Artichoke, Singapore

located in sculpture square (a place i think not many people even know exists), artichoke is like an oasis of calm amidst the usually bustling bugis area. my friend and i had a great time there when we met for brunch on a saturday morning – we ended up staying for 3 whole hours having great conversation over amazing food in a nice setting.

we knew how popular artichoke is, especially on weekends, so we made a reservation and managed to get a lovely raised table meant for 4, by a big window that looked out into the artichoke courtyard. yay!Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

the cafe exudes a laidback yet sophisticated vibe; it is casual but not sloppy and spacious but still cosy. it is also bright and airy, and i love how the tables are well spread-out so that it doesn’t get too noisy and you don’t have to worry about other diners hearing your entire conversation.20131221_11305920131221_113150

they serve dinner tuesday-saturday, and brunch on saturdays and sundays. here’s the brunch menu for the saturday we visited (i heard it changes):
20131221_113329i was really excited by the menu – everything was different from the usual brunch fare available elsewhere, and had nice middle eastern/turkish/arabic touches to them. artichoke prides itself on serving moorish cuisine. not quite sure myself what exactly moorish cuisine entails, but that might be because that is exactly what it is – a cuisine that comes from a huge variety of sources and has all kinds of influences (african/spanish/middle eastern etc), with no true definition that encompasses everything under it.

we opted for the scrambled eggs and mushrooms and the lamb shakshouka, and boy am i glad we did, because they were both amazing.

first, the scrambled eggs:
20131221_121015
scrambled eggs and mushrooms: local farm mushrooms/grilled halloumi cheese/za’atar toast – $22

this was super yummy! being an egg and mushroom lover, this was heaven on a plate. the mushrooms were fresh and juicy, and were cooked to finger-lickin’ perfection 😉 love how they’re local farm mushrooms too! nothing gourmet or fancy, but tasted just as delicious. as for the scrambled eggs, they were also pretty much perfect – not too wet nor dry, wonderfully creamy but not mushy at all! the eggs & mushrooms were topped with some fresh greens and these unidentifiable crispy bits (still don’t really know what they are) that were glazed in something (couldn’t really place what the glaze was either… oh dear) that were extremely delicious and added texture to the dish. the za’atar toast was also delicious, making for a super satisfying plate of goodness. our only (tiny) complaint was that we found the grilled halloumi a tad too salty. but other than that, it was grilled well and yummy like everything else! not sure if you can see in the picture because of the lack of scale, but the serving was pretty big! definitely filling, yet light.

instead of the mushrooms, an alternative is to have to have the scrambled eggs with “thick cut maple bacon chop”. when they say thick, they really do mean thick – the slice slab of bacon was about half an inch to an inch thick, and we spotted it glistening away in all its smoked glory at many tables. looked incredibly delicious but also very very sinful. best to eat in moderation! hahaha.

20131221_121628lamb shakshouka: stewed eggs/tomato sauce/roast lamb/cheese/pistachio dukka/toast – $26

i was really impressed with this. it was a pan full of bold flavours and hearty goodness. it was something like baked eggs, but even better. a giant serving of tomatoes, two runny eggs (hidden somewhere in there), amazing braised lamb shanks, cheese, topped with dukka, pistachios and some yoghurt – my idea of moorish food heaven! it was very filling, but so delicious that i just couldn’t bear to not finish it! though it sounds like a huge mess of flavours and things piled together in a pan, i must say it was a pretty organised/beautiful one 😛 the flavours and different components combined wonderfully and the lamb (which they were very generous with) was braised to perfection – it was moist, tender and extremely tasty, with none of the “smell” that people sometimes complain of when eating lamb. dunking the toast in all this was really, one of the best things ever.

case in point:Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetdespite the slightly heftier price tag, i would highly recommend this to anyone dining at artichoke! the serving is big and its definitely something different from the typical brunch fare of eggs benny etc, and in my opinion, in a really good way. its pretty heavy and and can get jelat though, so best to share this and some other lighter dishes with your dining companions if you want a greater range of things to eat.

given the big servings for the mains, we were stuffed by the time we were done with our mains, but were so pleased with the food that we decided we just could not pass on dessert. besides the desserts on the menu, they have a little bakery next door that sells an impressive range of tarts/muffins/baklava (traditional middle eastern/turkish dessert) etc where you can order some sweet treats to be eaten at artichoke:
20131221_131817

the tarts and their really interesting flavours were highly enticing, but we eventually decided on the sticky date pudding from artichoke. once again, no regrets at all because it was very very delicious! check it out:
20131221_132727
date pudding: burnt milk custard, coffee jelly, peanut caramel, smoked salt – $14

it appeared at our table completely different from what we expected, and looked good enough to warrant some oohs and aahs from us and envious glances from neighbouring tables. serving was like everything else big, and the pudding itself was sitting in this deep dish of burnt milk sauce, which to me sounded very interesting but to others might sound odd, i realise. if you belong to the latter category, do not let that deter you from ordering this, because trust me, it came highly recommended and with good reason! the date pudding was not cloyingly sweet like many sticky date puddings tend to be. neither was it very sticky actually! but it was moist and dense and was heavenly when eaten with the sauce surrounding it, the coffee jelly and the caramelised peanuts that topped it. the salt also added a very nice salted caramel-ish twist to the dessert. its priced rather steeply but the serving is definitely huge enough for sharing. so very satisfying! need to try the turkish apple crumble next! and some overdoughs delights.

as you can tell from my pretty much rave review of artichoke, i thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back for more. i loved the ambience, the food, and the service (they give each dinner a pack of sour gummies as you leave the cafe – a nice little touch and really helps in cleansing the palette after all that delicious food!). it was quite pricey but i thought it was nevertheless pretty worth the money. be sure to make a reservation on weekends or you might have to queue or be relegated to an outside seat (which is fine on a breezy day, but rather unoptimal on a sweltering one). i think they allow dogs in the courtyard too! saw some people dining with their furry friends so that’s something worth noting for dog owners out there.

i’d like to return for dinner one day, to see what they have to offer! they do communal dining for dinner, and i’m sure the great food and excited passing around of large sharing plates will make for a lovely experience 🙂

20131221_132241
outside seating area

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
my habibi & i 😉

Artichoke Cafe & Bar

161 Middle Road, Sculpture Square
Singapore 188978 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Advertisements

BRGR.CO, London

brgr is yet another place that has added itself to the already long list of choices we have for burgers here in london. being the first outlet outside of lebanon where it originated, i was initially apprehensive of how it’d fare but it came highly recommended from friends so this is where i ended up on a thursday night when i was craving some manfood! hahaha.

you’ll find it at the end of wardour street that’s closer to oxford street, and this location was extremely welcome since it shortened the trek from school after a torturous jurisprudence lecture (am sure it’ll be as welcome if you’re heading over with aching legs after intense christmas shopping too)! the interior of the shop was not quite what i was expecting – in contrast to other burger joints like patty and bun (possibly still my favourite burger in london; see review here), the decor in brgr is not what you’d expect from a typical burger joint – it seemed to be going for a more smart & sophisticated vibe with its dark colour scheme, and staff were dressed in crisp white shirts.
20131205_183238

at brgr, you can construct your own burger, choosing the kind of patty, followed by any sauces or cheeses that you want to add to it. here’s the menu:20131205_183229

they pride themselves on the beef they use (premium beef sourced only from the duke of buccleuch’s estate in scotland), and the signature burgers are supposed to contain only the best cuts, more so than the standard patties in their regular burgers. my friend and i both decided to go for the 6oz “butcher’s cut” plain, without any distractions from the fancy cheeses or sauces, and could not resist getting a serving of the parmesan truffle fries to share (it was calling out to us once we spotted it on the menu).

service was prompt (though it was hard to get the staff’s attention as it got later and the place filled up) and we were served our food rather quickly! the burger came deconstructed, with the veggie left out by the side – still not sure what the idea behind that is…
20131205_184700
6 oz “the butcher’s cut” – £7.95

lifted up the top half of the burger bun to reveal the AMAZING slab of beef patty within:20131205_184845

i don’t think the picture does how good it looked justice at all – it looked absolutely tasty and juicy and perfectly-cooked and made me want to dig right in. but alas, i had to snap a few shorts of it to share so i had to resist that urge for a bit. my friend on the other hand, promptly attacked hahaha.

all put together now:
20131205_185006
the beef patty certainly did not disappoint – the quality of the beef lived up to what it was made out to be. it was tender, juicy, sweet, wonderfully seasoned, and perfectly chargrilled to a pink medium rare. tasted like a gourmet beef patty, and even had that melt-in-your-mouth goodness at some points. the veggies in the burger were simple but very fresh, and the brioche burger bun was yummy – super soft and light and fluffy in all its glazed goodness.

what struck us most about the burger was its simplicity – no fuss in the form of dripping sauces or melty cheese; it was simple and very clean, and that is what makes the brgr burger special in my opinion. after finishing the whole burger (which i thought was a pretty good size), i didn’t feel like i had just eaten something unhealthy (which burgers that are heavier tend to result in) at all! in fact, it was not at all unthinkable to order a second one; it was that light! so it really depends on what you like in a burger – if you’re looking for something hearty and heavy and bursting with flavour, then i think brgr is not for you. (try patty & bun instead!)

we were also extremely impressed with the parmesan truffle fries:
20131205_184706
parmesan truffle fries – £3.85

these were calling out to us once we saw them on the menu, and we were not disappointed! the fries were thin and crunchy like what you’d get at macs, but a hundred times better with all that cheese and the fragrance of truffles! i loved how the parmesan was melted over the fries instead of just having shaved parmesan sprinkled on the top, and both the cheese and truffle were well-spread throughout the pile of fries such that each fry had the taste of both. (the worst thing is when you have to eat fries plain because all the toppings are just heaped in the centre and at the top – hate when that happens!!!)

finally, we had a dessert special (they have specials written on a blackboard) – the DESSURGER:
20131205_191632
dessurger – brioche bun, lemon custard, chantilly cream, vanilla parfait crusted in pistachio and blackberry jam

SIDE VIEW:
20131205_191654

my jaw literally dropped when it arrived at our table – it looked amazing and i had never had a dessert burger before so this was all very novel and exciting!!! luckily it tasted as amazing as it looked or i would have been sorely disappointed.

the brioche was lovely and light and fluffy, and though i was worried that it would just be a giant cream puff-like thing, i was pleasantly surprised that it was not the case at all! all the different components of the “burger” came together wonderfully – the chantilly cream was unbelievably fresh and light, the pistachio bits added crunch, the lemon custard was firm (a little like the texture of ice cream, just not as cold!) so that it didn’t get lost along with the cream, and added a nice and refreshing (slightly tart) lift to the dessert.

at some point we realised that maybe we should really be eating it as a burger so this is what we did:20131205_191944it was like a massive jam donut, only much much better.

we agreed that it was definitely worth trying but its a special item on the blackboard menu that changes, so i’m not sure how often they have it! just means that if you’re there and they happen to have it, you should definitely order it then 😉

all in all, we enjoyed our experience at brgr and concluded that its a great place if you’re looking for a light and clean-tasting burger. if you’re looking for something greasy or heart-attack inducing however, then this is probably not the place for you.

20131205_194632

BRGR.CO

87 Wardour St
London W1F 8ZD

Patty & Bun, London

i think my quest to find my favourite burger in london may very well have ended with my visit to patty & bun two weeks ago. the only thing holding me back from using “the best” instead of “my favourite” is my acknowledgement of the fact that not everybody likes their burgers the same way and so what i think is the best may not be the best at all in someone else’s opinion!

this place is so popular and so consistently has a queue that there is a location tag for “the patty & bun queue” on instagram – is that not hilarious? hahaha i thought that was highly amusing/intriguing! headed there for lunch on a friday and we waited about 20-25 minutes to get in, which was shorter than i expected.20131031_125033
happy despite the queue

it felt shorter than it actually was too, since we spent a good portion of it staring at the menu and trying to pick something to order; everything sounded amazing!!!20131031_124231
the menu

very conveniently located off oxford street, patty & bun occupies a small, cosy and simply-decorated shop that i thought gave off a very casual/chill/relaxed vibe, just like a burger joint should! don’t expect anything fancy; its quite a no-frills place that is really all about the food on the tables.20131031_131205our one qualm was that the tables were pretty close to each other and the music and chatter were rather loud, making it quite hard to carry on a conversation without having to raise our voices or strain our ears. but this didn’t seem to matter much once the food came and we we were all too busy stuffing our faces to speak much 😛

it being my first time there, i decided to start from the basics and opted for the “ari gold” cheeseburger. without a doubt, one of the best cheeseburgers i have ever had.
just look at that –20131031_134305
~DROOLS~

20131031_133951the burger was big, amazingly tasty and seriously dripping with juice. i loved the sweet brioche bun which was perfectly toasted, and what it held within was even better!!! the beef patty was cooked to absolute perfection – wonderfully juicy and naturally sweet, and all the flavours from the cheese, onion, special mayo etc came together to give this HUGELY satisfying burger (one of the best i’ve had in a while) that sent me straight to food heaven. i forgot all about the wait to get in + for the food once i sunk my teeth into this seriously good stuff…

we also ordered some sides to share, a serving each of their chicken wings and rosemary chips:
20131031_133807
i quite liked the chips, though i wouldn’t really rave about them as much as i raved about the burger above/will be raving about the wings below. i liked their thickness – not too thin and not too thick, and they were well-salted with a hint of rosemary which was a nice touch! they were really good with the ketchup/mustard/mayo/hot sauce (Y)

20131031_134003as for the wings, i have never had chicken wings like these before! they were drenched in a thick and sticky barbecue sauce which actually reminded me a bit of an asian-style dish (maybe it was the spring onions?). the sweet sauce was yummy, but it was the way the chicken was cooked that really impressed us all – the meat literally fell off the bone and was cooked to perfection! it was moist, sweet and wonderfully tender. finger lickin’ good stuff! 😉 definitely a must-try side if you’re at patty & bun, in my opinion.

BEFORE:
20131031_133539

MIDWAY:20131031_133722

AFTER:20131031_140123

they have choc ices available for dessert but we were unfortunately too stuffed to have any 😦 i will DEFINITELY be heading back to patty & bun soon for a burger fix. the thought of sinking my teeth into that amazingly moist and juicy burger again has never been far from my mind; i guess you could say it was love at first bite 😛 worth the queue in my opinion, and definitely in the running for best burger in london!

Patty & Bun

54 James Street
London W1U 1HE

PS. i MUCH (much much) prefer the burger here to what shake shack (see review here) offers – to me, it makes for a MUCH juicier and tastier (and hence more satisfying) meal. one of my friends felt that what we had here was rather heavy however, so if you prefer something more plain/light then this might not be for you. given the price and serving size however, i don’t think you can go far wrong with giving patty & bun a try! seriously good stuff.

Marylebone Hotel Afternoon Tea, London

no london experience is ever complete without some traditional afternoon tea, and the fact that i study and live here doesn’t stop me from doing “tourist-y” things like this once in a while 😉

having gotten a good afternoon tea deal at kingsway hall hotel via afternoontea.co.uk last year, it was that trusty website that i headed back to when a friend and i decided we were going to treat ourselves to an indulgent afternoon before the madness that school can become sets in.

this time, we got an amazing deal at the marylebone hotel – traditional afternoon tea at just £12.50 per person!!! considering how plush the hotel was, the impeccable service, and the quality of the food we were served, i would say this is the perfect deal if you’re looking for an affordable tea-time treat.

we arrived to a beautifully laid out table, and i loved the fact that we were seated on a huge cushy sofa in a lounge rather than stiff chairs around a table in a coffee house:
20131011_184803afternoon tea is served both in the lounge and the drawing room, and despite the very nice set-up, the staff are informal and unfussy, making you feel comfortable and right at home!

tea began with the waitress bringing us a selection of teas on a tray, explaining each one and letting us sniff them all before making our decision on what to get. they serve a selection of wonderfully fragrant “jing” tea there (which i found random packets of in my kitchen at home over summer and proceeded to make earl grey chiffon cake with – it tasted amazing and even better than when made with twinings tea!), and you’re allowed to have as much and as many kinds as you want throughout the afternoon. the selection of teas isn’t oustandingly extensive (i think we had 6 choices if i remember correctly), but is definitely enough to satisfy your tea desires, from black teas to fruit teas!

here’s the menu for afternoon tea:
20131011_183737

the sandwiches and scones were served first, and everything was plated really prettily (as it should be at afternoon tea!):
2013-10-11-18-12-47_deco

these were the sandwiches we had:
20131011_160542though simple, they were a case of classic afternoon tea sandwiches being done really nicely. the proportion of ingredients to bread was just right, and fillings for the sandwiches were fresh and tasty while the bread was nice and soft. fortunately, they didn’t really fill me up as much as i had expected – they remained light despite all that butter, cream cheese and mayo in them – , because more good things were to come! 😉

next, on to the quintessential part of afternoon tea – freshly-baked scones with clotted cream and jam!20131011_160551i love scones. and when they are really good ones which are freshly toasted and warm, that’s just icing on the cake (what an apt expression to use :P)! the clotted cream was good stuff – thick, smooth and not too sweet, while the homemade jam was very nice too, with whole bits of strawberries! we had a raisin scone and a plain scone each, both of which were delicious – they had risen very nicely and the slight crunch on the outside (which i love) gave way to a perfect airy, soft and moist inside. such a plain-looking thing in comparison to the other fancy tea-time offerings, but so yummy.

and finally for the sweet end to the tea, we got to choose cakes and pastries from a wide range on display which was rather exciting:
20131011_165702they had macaroons, tarts, cakes and biscuits – more than enough to keep that sweet tooth in you happy and satisfied!

our selections were later served to our table:2013-10-11-18-14-25_decowe were actually pretty full by the time we moved on to dessert, but still soldiered on anyway because they all looked too good to resist!

my favourites were the carrot cake and the dark chocolate + caramel tart!20131011_171146
the carrot cake was really dense, moist and had a good amount of nuts, raisins and carrot strips in it. the icing on top was also very light, nice and not overly sweet at all – it went super well with the cinnamon-y cake. yummm.

20131011_171716
(sorry for all these pictures of half-eaten food; we were clearly too excited to tuck in)

my other favourite was the dark chocolate & caramel tart (seen at the front of this picture) – the dark chocolate was so amazingly rich and lovely and the caramel and hint of sea salt prevented it from becoming overly chocolate-y. the tart base was nice and crisp and wasn’t too thick!

the macaroons however, were quite a let-down – they were quite dry and didn’t quite crumble in the way i like them to; we didn’t touch any of the other 3 after having the first one :/ they weren’t exceedingly terrible, but we’ve certainly had better and wanted to save our stomach space for the other treats! (pierre herme macaroons forever!!!)

we also tried a slice of the traditional victoria sponge cake!
20131011_171630the sponge was nice, airy and fluffy while the cream was super fresh and light! we did find the jam a tad too sweet, but all was good otherwise. i wouldn’t exactly rave or shout about this cake, but it was definitely another simple classic done well!

all in all, we had a great experience at the marylebone hotel at a truly unbeatable price. good conversation with a great friend was made even better with such nice surroundings and yummy food, and at no point in time did we feel obliged to leave (in fact they kept asking us if we wanted fresh pots of tea) at all – we sat there from 330pm to close to 7pm without realising how much time had passed! will definitely be booking this offer again if its still available the next time i’m looking to pamper myself by indulging in some traditional british luxury 😉

The Marylebone Hotel

47 Welbeck St
London W1G 8DN

Llao Llao, Singapore

llao llao is one of the newest kids on the frozen yogurt block in singapore, and is probably my family’s current favourite place to get our froyo fix! since discovering it about a month ago, we go by whenever we’re in the marina square/city hall area.

llao llao is a spanish frozen yogurt chain, and chose singapore as the place to open their first store in asia! thank goodness they did because they have brought some amazing frozen yogurt to our sunny island that i felt was lacking really good pinkberry standard froyo. before discovering llao llao, red mango and yoguru were my go to places for froyo (especially the green tea flavour that yoguru has at their lucky plaza and great world outlets!!!). now however, llao llao is definitely the one to beat!

20130908_144027

walk through marina link and their bright green signboard as well as the brightly-lit shop are hard to miss! besides the froyo itself tasting really good, i love how there are seats in the shop for you to have the option of chillin’ and properly enjoying your froyo while seated instead of buying a cup and having to eat it while walking around.

they have the usual range of toppings available – a good mix of healthy fruit toppings (on the left in the picture below) and the unhealthier option of the normal chocolate/biscuit dry toppings (on the right):20130908_144240

besides toppings, llao llao also has a range of sauces to be drizzled on top of your froyo! i thought this was quite interesting as most other yogurt places just have the usual hershey’s chocolate/strawberry sauce etc. i didn’t try any because i prefer my yogurt sauce-less but will consider getting some next time, especially the more unusual ones like the raffaello and chococrock; they sound pretty interesting! they also only have original-flavoured yogurt, so i suppose the sauce is a way to “flavour” your own yogurt?20130908_144233

here’s the medium cup + 3 toppings that we got for $5.50:20130908_144405

the froyo here at llao llao is definitely the creamiest and smoothest i have had in singapore. i LOVE pinkberry and snog froyo in london, and to me, this comes pretty close! their frozen yogurt has not a hint a of iciness and is perfect froyo in my opinion! it is thick but not heavy, and besides having a really great consistency, it tastes good too – not too sweet but not too sour like plain yogurt can sometimes be. they were also generous with the toppings which were fresh, and the medium cup contained a very substantial serving of yogurt so i felt it was really worth the price we paid! all of us had nothing but praise for it.

oh and they also have really cute spoons that are very long and made of very sturdy plastic! i love how they’re so streamlined in shape such that when you dig deep into your cup of yogurty goodness, no yogurt gets stuck like in the groove on the back of regular spoons!

even more extra points for a super cute and delicious-looking menu:20130908_145547

the sanums looked very good and seemed to be a popular choice among the steady stream of customers that patronised the shop while we were there, so that’s definitely what i’m going to try next time. (they are the layered cups shown in the bottom row of the leftmost panel of the menu below)20130908_145412

llao llao is currently my pick for the best frozen yogurt in singapore. if you are a froyo fan, this is the place for you!!! and even if you’re not, this is still the place for you to possibly become a froyo convert 😉

UPDATE: i have since returned to try their sanum and it was really a case of love at first bite. craving for more and really need to pay llao llao another visit soon! i know i have a ready companion in my mother, who is as hooked to the froyo there as i am. (i really hope they open another branch somewhere closer to me soon; having to make a trek to the marina area whenever i’m craving some amazing froyo is very unoptimal! 😦 )20130923_150310
sanum: froyo + 2 crunch toppings + 3 fruit toppings + more froyo + 1 sauce – $5.90

i tried my best but just could not get a good picture that showed all the layered toppings. i picked crushed walnuts and oreo crumbs for my 2 crunchy toppings, and blueberries, strawberries & kiwis for my fruit toppings. absolutely love how 5 toppings + 1 sauce allows you to pick a wide variety of stuff to have your froyo with – this is customisation at its very best! the serving was huge and i very happily lapped up every bit of it. i thought it was really value-for-money especially since a medium-sized cup with 3 toppings is $5.50. just $0.40 more for 2 additional toppings and a sauce!

for my sauce, i picked the raffaello which the girl at the counter described to me as white chocolate with coconut and cookie crumbs. i am normally not a huge fan of coconut but decided to give it a try anyway, and i was really pleasantly surprised to find that it was really really delicious. definitely going to get this the next time i go; there’s no question about it 😉

here’s a picture of my half-demolished sanum:20130923_150745sorry i know its not a particularly appetising picture but trust me, it was seriously YUM. you can also see how generous they are with the serving size from the picture; the cup is so deep and it isn’t just filled full but way beyond the rim of the cup! the toppings are all very fresh too; my only qualm is that i wish i they had granola as a crunchy topping. but that’s most definitely not going to stop me from returning to llao llao again and again. and again.

and more sanum pictures from a 3rd visit with my momma just before i left for london:
2013-09-26-13-23-35_deco
YUMZZZZZZ

open a branch in orchard/somewhere i frequent more than the marina square area soon please??? 🙂

Llao Llao
Marina Link # B1-04
(Marina Square Basement link to Esplanade MRT)

UPDATE: really exciting news – llao llao has since opened a 2nd branch at somerset 313! its been quite a while (nearly a year!) since i first wrote this post about llao llao and today (28/6/14), i am proud to say that i still love it as much as i did then 😉 i can never pass on the opportunity to get a sanum whenever i’m in the vicinity, and it still never disappoints though i have to say the serving sizes have decreased quite significantly of late, and the range of toppings has also been more limited the past few times i visited! also, for sanums, you are also now only allowed 1 crunch (which is added twice – i honestly do not really understand the logic; what is the difference between getting 1 crunch as opposed to 2 different ones if the same total quantity added is maintained?) 😦 nevertheless, i am still addicted to this creamy goodness and as the following pictures will show, still take pictures of the towers of goodness every single time i’m there… #somethingsdon’tchange
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
check out how they’ve really shrunk in size from the early days 😥

Swee Choon Dim Sum, Singapore

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

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

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

20130814_193844 what always happens when food is served #asianproblems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant Pte Ltd

191 Jalan Besar
Singapore 208882

IMG-20130814-WA0028
R001-005
feasting friends forever

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
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 🙂

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 – $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 – $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 😉

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!

20130817_125945

Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar

56 Tanglin Road
Tanglin Post Office #01-03
Singapore 247964
20130817_143041special friends