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 think 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! besides that though, no other complaints at all! i will probably be back 🙂 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

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Oriole Cafe & Bar, Singapore

had been hearing pretty positive things about this place since it started gaining popularity in recent years but never got the chance to try it, so i was more than happy to have lunch here when my friend suggested it.

oriole cafe is a nice spot to rest your tired legs after indulging in retail therapy along orchard road. its at somerset, so if you start your shopping at far east plaza and make your way up along orchard road, i think somerset is around the point where a good cup of coffee or waffles for tea will be a welcome break!

we went on a wednesday afternoon and it was easy to get a table. the restaurant is rather spacious and i felt that the tables were nicely spaced out so its a really nice and comfortable setting for lengthy conversations over a meal. the huge glass panels and high ceilings also add to the relaxed vibe of the place!

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they serve breakfast till 5pm daily, but we decided to go for the lunch menu as there wasn’t anything that seemed out of the ordinary among their breakfast offerings – they have standard brunch fare like eggs benny, french toast etc. we weren’t particularly ravenous (i had a breakfast feast at tiong bahru market that morning hahaha) so we settled on the spicy calamari and the beef cheek tagliatelle to share! here is nikki looking excited that the food has arrived heh:20130710_131935

spicy calamari: it was recommended by the waiter as one of their most popular starters. the chilli was very much like belachan and i thought it added a nice twist to regular calamari, with its spiciness and tinge of sourness. the batter of the calamari was very well done – it was light, crispy, and neither too oily nor thick. we could tell that the oil used was fresh and i loved the fact that it was delightfully fluffy which gave it a really nice bite. i think i would have been happy eating just the batter without the squid within (though the squid within was nice and fresh too)! i would have preferred thicker and crunchier squid slices though, so that the taste of the squid didn’t get lost in the batter.
not sure if it shows in the picture but the serving was big! there were probably 15-20 calamari rings there and given that they were rather big pieces individually, its a wonder we didn’t start sprouting tentacles after eating it all hahaha.

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spicy calamari, $15

as for the beef cheek tagliatelle: we enjoyed this very much! the beef cheek pieces were very nicely braised in red wine (according to the menu, though i didn’t taste a hint of it!), making them deliciously tender. the mushrooms were also very yummy, and the tagliatelle had a nice bite to it (it was very much like western mee pok). nikki and i agreed that we’d gladly come back to have this tagliatelle again!
the serving was very generous once again; we shared this and were both very satisfied when we were finished with it. needless to say, the sauce in this dish is heavier than tomato-based sauce for example, and so given its consistency, i think i might have found it hard to finish if i had ordered this alone. its quite a thick stew-like sauce, but i didn’t find it overly heavy – i’d take this over a creamy carbonara-type sauce any day!

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beef cheek tagliatelle, $22

oriole cafe and bar is well-known for its coffees but since we didn’t order any with our meal we decided to go with a coffee-based dessert! and luckily we did, because the honey crumble affogato (vanilla ice cream, espresso and crunchy honeycomb bits) was  really really good. the giant scoop of vanilla ice cream was thick and creamy, the espresso was very good and everything came together to give us a very enjoyable end to our meal! i can imagine myself coming back to oriole to have this as a mid-afternoon snack/break from shopping 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhoney crumble affogato, $9.50

i hadn’t seen this girl in the flesh for 9 months and so you can imagine how much we had to catch up on… we spent a good 3.5 hours at oriole and never felt like we were overstaying our welcome at any point in time. the staff were polite and friendly and i think if we had continued sitting there for another hour, they wouldn’t have minded at all! given the size of the portions, i feel the food is reasonably priced, and definitely above average as far as cafe/bistro-style food goes. a good place for all-day dining options!20130710153040919reunited in completely unintentionally & unplanned colour-coordinated outfits heehee. still telepathic even after 9 months apart 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOriole Cafe & Bar

#01-01, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
96 Somerset Road
Singapore 238163

Menya Musashi, Singapore

ramen is all over singapore! there are way too many choices – so much so that everytime i feel like having a good bowl of ramen, i end up spending more time searching which shop i should go to and reading reviews than actually eating the bowl of noodles.

this time, the choice was menya musashi. i used to wonder how good it was when i saw the snaking queues outside the raffles city outlet and this time, it was the outlet at ion orchard that we headed to to see whether it was really worth the queue!

this shop is supposedly one of the most popular in tokyo, and their specialty is the tsukemen, where the ramen and soup are served separately and you are supposed to dip the noodles into the soup with each bite you take! wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous that night so i stuck to the ramen we are used to – a piping hot bowl of delicious noodles. their menu is pretty straightforward: they have a black, white and spicy soup base and for each soup base, there are 4 options, each differing based on the amount of toppings given.

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we ordered one bowl of black big tiger ramen and white big tiger ramen.
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(black on top, white at the bottom!)

what’s the difference between the white and black soup? the black soup is more garlic-y and also a little saltier – a heavier soup in general.

the “big tiger ramen” comes with the most toppings; i suppose its meant to be the “top of the range” bowl (at SGD16.90) – it comes with a mixture of shabu shabu pork and cha shu, half an egg, and a whole bunch of other garnishings. it was the most expensive on the menu but i would say it was very worth the money.20130327_183836
i have to say, they are EXTREMELY generous with the toppings, which is what i really liked.  every bit of noodles could be eaten with something (unlike some other bowls of ramen where its just a lot of noodles with a few measly slices of pork) and the cha shu was one of the best i’ve had with ramen! it was cooked to perfection – tender and very very tasty.as for the soup (which is key to any bowl of ramen), it was definitely not what i was expecting. it was so thick that it was almost like a gravy – i think i remember remarking that it reminded me of lor mee gravy. don’t get me wrong – it tasted good, but was just much thicker than i had imagined soup for ramen would ever be! because of the super generous amounts of toppings given and the extremely thick broth, it was a very filling and satisfying  bowl of noodles. definitely not something that everyone will like though, as its not the normal tonkotsu/shoyu soup that most of us are used to. however, another good thing about it was that i didn’t feel too thirsty after the meal, which means the tastiness is pretty natural and doesn’t come from too much msg!

out of sheer coincidence, the lady sitting next to me on the bus home had had her dinner at menya musashi as well. i sheepishly (or shamelessly?) admit that i eavesdropped on her phone conversation as she recounted to whoever was on the other end of the line how her shoe-shopping trip failed because apparently shoes that are both comfortable and nice-looking just do not exist, and how she did NOT like her ramen at menya. in her words, she said it was “super gao” (gao = thick in hokkien dialect, for the uninformed). she also complained that she didn’t get to drink coke because they only serve pepsi (heads-up for all coke lovers out there lol).

total bill: SGD39

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a different sort of ramen, either the dipping sort (if you are interested in trying something new) or one with an extremely thick soup. guaranteed to be a filling meal! i’m not sure how crowded it normally is as we went early and on a weekday but given the crowd i’ve seen at dinnertime at the raffles city outlet, i’d say its best to go early to beat the crowds. when we went at 630pm, there was no queue, but there was a steady stream of customers.

will i go back? i don’t really foresee myself going back in the near future unless i’m craving this sort of ramen. i think i still prefer the normal soup bases, though this is an interesting change. probably the kind of place i’d consider going to if i’m in orchard with no food ideas and am craving some ramen. i’d definitely say its worth trying at least once though!

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Menya Musashi
2 Orchard Turn
#B3-25 ION Orchard