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 🙂

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. 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_130237 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 –  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) – 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).  i’m happy that i finally checked this place out, but it was all a little overrated, i feel! 20131219_125627

Strangers’ Reunion

37 Kampong Bahru Rd
Singapore 16935620131219_145300
hi lou!
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Panamanian picks (or pigs?)

so i think i mentioned in my previous post that i spent the first 10 days of june in panama on a volunteer trip! i was part of the first ever ucl human rights brigade that went to the darien province (the most impoverished and abandoned region) in panama to provide a community there with legal assistance and education on their rights, working alongside panamanian lawyers. we went under the organisation global brigades, and it was a great experience – eye-opening and fruitful (not just in the sense that we were fed lots of sweet, sweet fruit :P), one that i really enjoyed.

our daily meals were lovingly prepared by a group of ladies who woke up at the crack of dawn (or earlier, actually – 3am!!!) every day to ensure that breakfast was ready for all the brigaders living in the compound when we woke up, and our packed lunches were ready to go when we left the compound for our respective communities. they mostly served us traditional panamanian food, and there were definitely way more hits than misses!!!

here are my five favourites:
1. arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) – a panamanian classic!Image

i remember this being one of our first few dinners and we all loved it so much that most of us went for seconds! the rice is amazingly flavourful and as you can see from the picture, has bits of shredded chicken, veggie, olives and raisins in it. i’m not sure what gives it its orange colour, but i’m guessing stuff like tumeric/paprika/cumin/saffron maybe? (from the spices i’m listing, you can probably vaguely imagine the kind of taste it had?) it was really really realllyyy delicious omg i miss eating it so much! and i also absolutely adore how it is such a colourful dish with such strong, vibrant colours. maybe i should google and try out a recipe for it heehee.
the pink stuff you see in the picture is what commonly accompanies arroz con pollo; its a beetroot and potato salad and i loved it not just because it is a gorgeous pink (my favourite shade too!) but also because it was really really yummy. its served chilled and the beets really add a very nice and subtle sweetness to the salad. its amazing how different a regular potato salad with mayo can taste just by adding some beetroot! even people who don’t normally like beets liked it, so that’s definitely saying something, i think?
on our last day there, some villagers also cooked arroz con pollo for us for lunch in this gigantic pot. i observed them putting all the rice into some kind of soup stock-looking thing and stirring the rice round and round (and round) in the huge pot till all the stock had completely evaporated/been soaked up by the rice (the rice is very dry when its done) – its probably what makes the rice grains themselves so tasty and flavourful.
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2. hojaldres
Imagewe had these amazing fried pieces of dough for breakfast twice during our stay there and loved it so much that for our last breakfast at the compound, the kitchen ladies specially prepared it for us to have one last time before setting off (normally groups that leave really early – we ate at 4am before setting off at 5) :’)
they are soft and fluffy while being slightly crusty-ish on the outside, and we had them with honey (pretty much panama’s version of pancakes!). it was hands down my favourite breakfast item we had in the 10 days there. hojaldres are quite similar to roti prata (indian pancake-like fried dough, eaten with curry or sugar), but i think texture-wise, they are even more similar to you tiao/butterfly buns (fried dough fritters – are these singaporean? i’m not quite sure where they originated!). super yummy. definitely the breakfast of champions 😉

3. corn fritters
Imagesorry for all the other distractions in the picture, i realised i didn’t take one that focused on just the corn fritters alone! the corn fritter is the thing you see next to the eggs in the foreground of the picture, with the cheese on top! i think they were just mass produced frozen corn fritters that were fried for us, but they were quite nice in their simplicity all the same, especially with the cheese that melted on top (from the heat of the freshly fried fritters).

4. pineapples!!!
Imagesomething about them panamanian pineapples… omg, SO amazingly sweet and juicy. i was never a fan of pineapples (in fact i used to pick them off hawaiian pizza) until i tried grilled pineapples last year, and i started liking them. these were cut into huge chunky blocks and exploded in our mouths in all their glorious juicy sweetness with not a hint of sour acidity that pineapples can sometimes leave in your mouth as an aftertaste (it used to make my tongue sting which was why i never liked them).
my eyes lit up whenever i saw that we were having pineapples at breakfast heehee. we were also served watermelon and papaya which were not too bad, but the pineapples were definitely my favourite, the rest didn’t even come close!

5. fried whole fishImageanother typically panamanian dish. i first tried it on our first night in panama at a mall which we stopped at for dinner en route to darien province which was a bumpy 4 hour bus ride in the dark away from panama city and into the wilderness hahaha. when i had it for the second time (pictured above) at the fish market in panama city on our last day there, it was even better than i remembered it to be! the fish was extremely fresh, very lightly and simply seasoned, and fried to perfection. eating it off the bone reminded me of chinese-style steamed fish back home! the plantain chips are also a forever favourite. i could really do with some now… way better than regular potato fries!!!

so there you have it, my five favourite foods from panama! and in case you were more interested in seeing a panamanian pig (as suggested in the post title) than my panamanian food picks, here’s a picture of one:
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two:
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and three:Image

OMG, are they not the hugest pigs you have ever seen!?!??!?!?! i was stunned… takes the phrase “fat pig” to a whole new level in my opinion…

btw for those who are curious, this is panama:
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🙂