Scandinavian Kitchen, London

i liked this place even before i stepped in, when i saw this outside their shop:
20131211_132251the humour was a sign (pun unintended) of good things to come – good food and good service in a nice environment! it was packed when i had lunch there on a wednesday afternoon, and with good reason, we soon learnt ūüôā
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the lunchtime crowd

what you can order for lunch (which they start serving around 11.30am) at scandinavian kitchen is simple Рsmörgåsbord (your choice of sandwiches/wraps/salads), swedish meatballs (with your choice of 3 salads), or a scandi hotdog! everything is available for takeaway as well Рthe eat-in price is slightly more than the takeaway price, and taking away is hence extremely reasonable! see prices here:20131211_132522

a mix of sandwiches/wraps/salads can be chosen for your smörgåsbord from the glass display at the counter Рthey had a pretty wide range and everything looked good so that made picking just 3 (we opted for the 3 pieces one) quite a difficult task! the sandwiches & wraps:20131211_133232and the salads:20131211_141453

we settled on a smörgåsbord and a plate of swedish meatballs to share! you place your order at the counter, and bring the food to your table yourself, helping yourself to cutlery and water along the way.

the smörgåsbord:20131211_133442smörgåsbord (3 pieces) Р£6.50 (eat-in)

i can’t remember the exact names of the things we picked, but the one in the front on the left was something with prawns (no surprise there) and going in a clockwise direction from there, we had one with pate at the back, and last but not least, one with a warm salmon topping.¬†

i can’t pick a favourite because i thought they were all really yummy. if only they were bigger.. ūüėõ guess i’ll have to opt for the¬†sm√∂rg√•sbord with 5 pieces to be truly satisfied next time! the ingredients were very fresh – the prawns especially; i remember them to be naturally sweet and crunchy. they went together really well with the egg and tomatoes to make a very light and refreshing open sandwich. as for the one with pate, the pate was smooth and did not taste too strongly of meat. it was topped with bacon which i would have preferred to be crispier, but all was still good. and finally for the warm salmon one, it wasn’t exactly warm but i suppose they called it that since it wasn’t cold like smoked salmon slices and was instead cooked and made into something like a chunky spread. it was tasty and went really well with the dill and rocket that topped it!

however, if i had to pick one out of the three that i wouldn’t order again, it’d probably be this salmon one – it wasn’t bad at all, but i felt that it wasn’t as flavourful as the rest or as i had hoped! or maybe its because it was served on a crisp flatbread as opposed to the other 2 which had rye as their base, some extremely delicious rye at that! i was tempted to buy a loaf home (they sell it in their grocery section) but resisted, since i was leaving london and heading home really soon. next time i will!

we also ordered a plate of meatballs with 3 side salads to share:
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swedish meatballs with 3 salads Р£6.95 (eat-in)

this was a really generous serving – we were given nearly 15-20 meatballs, accompanied by 3 big servings of salad! we opted for the apple and beetroot salad (bottom left), the artichoke and rye kernel salad (bottom right), and the pizza salad (top right).

i loved the beetroot salad, and not only because it was my favourite shade of pink! it really reminded me of what i had in panama (see here), but this was a lighter version in a dressing that was less thick and mayonnaise-y. the beetroots were fresh and juicy, and the rare apple bits added a nice touch! i also loved the artichoke salad, with its bits of feta and rye kernels. it was something quite different with an interesting combination of ingredients. as for the pizza salad, what went into it really shed no light on why it is named as such – consisted of cabbage leaves that seemed to be soaked/dressed in a light vinegar; an interesting salad that is apparently quite typically swedish!

the meatballs were super yummy. i liked the fact that they were small and almost bite-sized, served warm and quite crisp on the outside while soft and moist within. i would definitely come back for these! they also have a meatball open sandwich, if you don’t think you can handle a whole plate of 20 balls at one go.

having finished all that, we had dessert accompanied by some pomegranate cider! i must first say that the pomegranate cider was really nice – do try it if you’re a cider fan and you’re at scandinavian kitchen. it was light and refreshing, and my friend liked it so much that she bought a few bottles home. as for dessert, they had a few cakes and sweet pastries to choose from:
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we ended up going with something that one of the staff recommended, and did not regret it one bit. behold, the amazing kladdkaka, a traditional swedish sticky brownie:Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetsticky brownie with whipped cream Р£2.75

the brownie was. amazing. i am normally not a huge fan of things that are this chocolate-y, but this was pretty heavenly. ¬†as you can probably see from its glistening interior in the picture – it was incredibly moist and sticky, having an almost half-baked/cookie dough-type texture. might sound weird to some people, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. i also loved how the top was crisp and went so wonderfully with the soft inside and the freshly whipped cream that topped it. it really had the homemade feel to it as well, which i really liked; it made me feel like i was having a really good piece of cake in someone’s wooden cabin in the middle of some scandinavian woods ūüėõ come to think of it, maybe scandinavians are just really good at making chocolate cake – i remember having really good chocolate cake while i was in norway with my sister last year! i’m definitely returning for more of this yummy brownie.

besides serving food, scandinavian kitchen also has a little supermarket section at the back that is well-stocked with a range of scandinavian products. throughout our lunch, there was a steady stream of customers browsing the shelves and the majority of them seemed scandinavian – looks like its a one-stop shop for them to get a taste of home!
20131211_155353besides the seating area you see in the above picture, they have more seats downstairs!

scandinavian kitchen is a wonderful little hangout along great titchfield street. it offers food that is legitimately scandinavian – everything is made using fresh nordic produce and though simple, they come together to make some very good dishes! as my friend said, everything tasted “… scandinavian.” we felt that there was really something different about the food there! service is friendly and efficient (pretty sure the staff are nearly all, if not all, scandinavian), and the staff all wear shirts with cute slogans at the back (not particularly relevant i know, but it adds to the experience!). the cafe itself is nice and it was not difficult getting a table at all despite the lunch crowd – most people seemed to be getting takeaways. i will definitely be back for more ūüôā

Scandinavian Kitchen

61 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 7PP20131211_15584920131211_155915

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Department of Caffeine, Singapore

despite the myriad of cafes in the duxton hill area, DOC has managed to stand out from the crowd instead of going unnoticed amidst the sea of eateries in the area. since its opening early this year, it has gleaned rave reviews and recommendations from many of its patrons for both its food and coffee offerings, and in my opinion, rightly so! a friend who was interning around tanjong pagar had the opportunity to try most of the cafes there during her lunch hours and DOC came out tops on her list of favourites. i can definitely see why after trying it for myself!

everything about¬†DOC exudes a cool vibe –¬†from the extremely¬†understated exterior (i nearly walked right past the shop and its¬†nondescript frosted glass windows with black frames) to the use of wood and black as the interior colour scheme to the young and seemingly hipster service staff. the shop, which is not big but seats a decent number of people at any one time, is¬†designed in a modern and stylish manner while managing to remain cosy and inviting. the atmosphere is casual and rather buzzing when it gets crowded, especially because it is the kind of cafe where you place your order and pay at the counter before the food gets brought to your table shortly after.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the menu is simple and concise yet sufficiently extensive to get you excited about what you should pick:
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we didn’t have a very hard time making¬†our decision that day though, as we already had our minds (and stomachs) set on the waffles which looked too good to pass on.¬†moreover, we were planning on¬†heading¬†to tsujiri tea house after¬†for what i think is the best green tea soft serve ice cream in singapore (see here)¬†so we agreed to exercise some self-control and not overdo the ordering. we did pretty well on that, i must say, opting to share a waffle and a salad between us.
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first up, the waffle:
(omg, just look at that picture and salivate now please!!!)
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sundried tomato & herb waffles with bacon, scrambled eggs & maple bacon jam – $16.50

they have both sweet and savoury waffles at DOC, but it was the savoury one that we settled for, in anticipation of dessert after. this was definitely¬†the highlight of our meal (not that there was very stiff competition for the coveted title with only one other dish in the running hahaha)! we could not stop spazzing over how good it was; even when we were 3/4 done with it, we were still repeating “omg. this is soooooo. good.” over and over.¬†the waffle was amazingly crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside, and the batter itself was infused with herbs which made it quite special. truly a savoury waffle through and through, and not just a waffle with savoury toppings! the scrambled eggs and bacon were also nicely done – the scrambled eggs were creamy and fluffy and the bacon would have been perfect if fried just a little crispier (but that’s a personal preference). topped with maple syrup, the waffles here at DOC are definitely one of the best buttermilk waffles ever (i hear wimbly lu ones put up a good fight)! my only complaint is that towards the end of our waffle-devouring adventure, the waffle soaked up some of the moisture from the scrambled eggs and became slightly soggy but i suppose that can’t be helped!

we also had a salad to share:
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regular salad – $13 (roasted butternut squash with semidried tomatoes, baby spinach & feta/chargrilled broccoli with chilli, garlic & lemon)

they have 3 different salads displayed at the counter daily for your picking pleasure, and i love how you can pick 2 salads to mix in a bowl, regardless of the salad size that you opt for!¬† we chose the spinach + butternut squash salad and the broccoli salad, and were pleasantly surprised that despite it being a small serving, the quantity was quite sufficient for us to share. the greens were extremely fresh and the butternut squash and spinach salad came with a lovely dressing which we couldn’t quite place but was very yummy nonetheless. as for the broccoli salad, the broccoli was perfectly cooked (ie not too soft, crunchy but not too hard) and cut (big, chunky pieces) for salads, and we loved how it was so nicely char-grilled, giving it a subtle smokey taste.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA¬†there was also some¬†lemon zest added to it which gave the salad a very refreshing lift. fyi, the menu also offers an option of combining the salads with a main – they had a choice¬†of either a¬†roasted chicken leg or some poached salmon for the main¬†while we were there.

i will definitely be back at DOC! this is the place to go if you’re looking for some great buttermilk waffles (another hot favourite is wimbly lu), and i’m looking forward to the next opportunity i get to return to try their sweet waffle with ice cream¬†offerings and possibly their churros with kahlua-spiked chocolate sauce! besides their sweet treats (they also have freshly baked goodies on a¬†daily basis), i hear their sandwiches are good too! the pulled pork one is especially popular.

another great thing about DOC is that they are happy to take reservations. this makes it the perfect place to visit on weekends especially after having a nice lie-in; no worries about long queues or waiting time that could ruin the pleasure of a relaxing weekend brunch!

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Department of Caffeine

15 Duxton Rd
Singapore 089481

ps. dessert was as mentioned earlier, a shiratama parfait at tsujiri:
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MATCHA HEAVEN IN A CUP!!!

pps. the domestic doyleys also got to work in the kitchen that afternoon, and successfully baked an earl grey chiffon cake! it was so yummy and we were pleased as punch heehee. a day full of fabulous food yay!
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Tamashii Robataya, Singapore

my dad whatsapped me very excitedly during his lunch hour last friday, telling me that he just had the most amazing truffle chawanmushi and (in my apparently standard words to describe anything i love) it was “sooooo gooood”. when he returned home that night, he was still enthusing about it over dinner and so it was decided that our family would go check the place out the very next day (yes, this means that my father went to the same restaurant to eat the exact same thing on 2 consecutive days; he likes it that much.).

so it was on a saturday afternoon that my family visited this relatively recently-opened japanese restaurant (it is about 3 months old) which is a stone’s throw away from my dad’s office, along north canal road. since its in the cbd, its really quiet on weekends and is actually a nice escape from the crowds at orchard road! we were 1 of just 2 groups of diners that day, but my dad says that its packed on weekdays so best to make a reservation if you’re planning on going down on a weekday.

Tamashii Robataya is on the 2nd floor of a rather nondescript building that houses a few other funky-looking joints, and is a traditional robatayaki (often shortened to robata) restaurant. for the uninitiated, robata is another kind of japanese dining (like shabu shabu, teppanyaki etc) where customers sit at a counter with a range of fresh produce displayed (eg mushrooms, corn, seafood, meats) and they pick what they want the chefs to skewer and grill over charcoal. when the food is ready, the freshly-grilled food is then served to you over the counter on a wooden oar, apparently to pay homage to the fishermen of Japan who served their fresh catch on wooden oars in the past.

20130727_132046 the counter at Tamashii Robataya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsome of the food that can be selected for grilling

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freshly-grilled food served to you on wooden oars

my dad really enjoyed the set lunch that he had the day before, and so we decided to go with the set lunch menu which is also available on saturdays. (next time we are definitely going back to try the omakase/a-la-carte menu though!) they have a decent range of affordable set lunches available, and all are very value-for-money given that they come with a salad, 3 slices of salmon sashimi, rice, miso soup, dessert & coffee/tea. here is the set lunch menu:20130727_132342

all set lunches start with a typical japanese salad as appetiser – the greens were fresh and served with a delicious dressing that was light and refreshing. i would have preferred the salad to be a little more well-chilled though.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
salad that comes with the set lunch

we were all really impressed with the salmon sashimi. expecting the typical run-of-the-mill salmon sashimi that you can get anywhere (and hence not expecting very much), the sashimi far exceeded my expectations and we were all very pleased. the pieces were sliced quite thick (i prefer sashimi that way as it gives the fish some bite) and they were fatty, which i feel is what set it apart from the regular salmon sashimi that you can get in any chain restaurant or even supermarket. i might be wrong but they seemed to have a light yuzu-type seasoning on the top which was a very nice touch, and made it a very enjoyable start to the meal. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
salmon sashimi

for the mains, we went with 3 orders of gyuniki teriyaki (beef) and 1 order of gindara teriyaki (cod). the beef was a clear winner – it was a generous serving that was grilled to perfection. the meat was extremely tender and juicy, and the sauce was simply put, finger lickin’ good ūüėČ i soon realised that my initial disappointment at the very simple (and some might even say unimpressive) presentation was completely unfounded once i sunk my teeth into the first piece of meat.

(sorry my pictures of the beef are really rather unflaterring ūüė¶ but trust me, it was absolutely delicious!)
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gyuniku teriyaki that was cooked to perfection
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA gyuniki teriyaki with rice

the cod paled in comparison. my sister was sorely disappointed once it was served. the serving was much smaller than the beef and although it was extremely smooth and fresh and the sauce was as yummy as the beef’s, it was lacking the juiciness and natural sweetness that the beef had. i think its very safe to say that my sister will be ordering the beef the next time she returns for the set lunch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgindara teriyaki

the japanese rice that accompanied the grills was well-cooked, no sign of any clumpy or hard bits at all. as for the miso soup, we all really enjoyed it. it was full of ingredients unlike the msg-laden bowls of soup with a few pathetic pieces of seaweed (and tofu, if you’re lucky) that you often get with set meals. this miso soup had generous amounts of mushrooms and what i think was beancurd skin/tau pok, and it was a warm, tasty and satisfying accompaniment to the rice and grills.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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miso soup

besides the set lunch, we ordered a truffle chawanmushi each. how could we leave without having the one dish that my dad had enthused non-stop about the night before? each serving costs $8++ with any set lunch order. it was definitely money well spent in my opinion. the chawanmushi was one of the smoothest chawanmushis i have ever tasted!!! it was light, very very extremely smooth, and topped with not just truffle oil, but bits of truffle! the smell is amazing once you lift the cover of the chawanmushi pot ūüôā definitely one of the best chawanmushis i have ever had.20130727_134032
truffle chawanmushi

the set lunch also comes with dessert to end off the meal. i love how they have a range of desserts for you to choose from unlike some sets that come with a standard dessert of fruit/fixed flavour of ice cream. here at tamashii, you can choose from green tea, black sesame, yuzu or grape ice cream, matcha cheesecake, mochi and japanese jelly. gotta love that wide selection!!! i had my eye on matcha cheesecake from the start of lunch but unfortunately, they didn’t have it the day we were there. major sad face ūüė¶ . so I went with black sesame ice cream instead, while my parents and sister went for the yuzu.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
black sesame & yuzu ice cream

we were really impressed when we learnt that all the ice cream is made in-house. the yuzu was a very refreshing sorbet-like palate cleanser, and had actual bits of orange peel inside which made it rather special. as for the black sesame ice cream, i forgot all about my disappointment with the lack of matcha cheesecake. it was delicious – smooth, creamy and extremely fragrant. i remember feeling very sad when i had the last bite of it; the one thing that could have made dessert better was… another scoop of ice cream? ūüėõ

all in all, we were all extremely satisfied with our meal at Tamashii Robataya. in fact, my dad just went back a third time yesterday (he very happily informed me that the lady at the restaurant now recognises him); i think he needed to satisfy his constant craving for the truffle chawanmushi. the set lunches are indeed very good value for money. we’re thinking of trying their omakase menu one of these days! will definitely update this space when we do so ūüôā

[UPDATE: omakase has been tried! read about it here]

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Tamashii Robataya

12 North Canal Road #02-01
Singapore 048825

The Lawn, Singapore

been eating non-stop since summer started, and finally decided that it was getting out of hand; i was in need of some serious detoxing! The Lawn was thus the obvious choice for a light lunch with friends last week, especially since i had inhaled an entire apple cinnamon prata with vanilla ice cream at 4am earlier that morning (it was SO. GOOD.)

eating clean doesn’t mean eating food that’s anything less than yummy, and The Lawn is the perfect place to do just that!¬†located at biopolis, it caters mostly to the working crowd in the area but given the ample parking available in the basement and its relative proximity to buona vista mrt station, i think its a pretty good spot for a satisfying salad fix. the cafe is clean and bright with a few tables inside, and a synthetic turf outside (an attempt to stay true to their name) for outdoor seating on a cool day. the atmosphere is relaxed, almost like you’re just sitting in your backyard having a barbeque ūüôā

we arrived a little past 1pm on a weekday to a thinning lunch crowd, and wasted no time in heading to the counter to place our orders:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the lawn is all about fresh greens topped with grilled meat/seafood, and finished with tasty dressings. everything is your choice and you get a huge personalised bowl of salad for just $9.90! at the counter, you start by choosing between a salad (1 grill + 5 toppings + dressing) and olive rice (1 grill + rice + side salad). the 3 of us all went with salad and we were really spoilt for choice. being the extremely indecisive person i am, ordering was stressful (picking the right combination of salad toppings is a life-changing decision, seriously :P) but i suppose it was a happy problem…

there are about 12 different grills to choose from, with some premium ones that cost an additional $1/$2. Sorry I didn’t take a picture of the blackboard behind the counter, but I do have a picture of the grills available (taken from a board outside the cafe) and you can check out the entire range of choices available at their website here:¬†http://thelawn.com.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85&Itemid=53¬†!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
grill choices at the lawn

i went with the chargrilled prawns while both my friends went with the herb-infused chicken which came highly recommended by the staff behind the counter. after choosing your grill, you proceed to pick your toppings from the huge range available; they have everything from granola to green apples to seeds to chesnuts to beetroot to assorted nuts to eggs to tomatoes to pasta to cous cous to broccoli – you name it and they probably have it! after picking toppings, the final step is to pick a dressing and unsurprisingly, there is once again a headache-inducing (because i am ridiculously indecisive) selection. i went with the honeyball which was a safe choice in my opinion; the last thing i wanted was to leave less-than-satisfied because of a wrong dressing choice, especially after racking my brains to achieve what i deemed the perfect salad combination! hahaha. for the adventurous, you can go for something like maple peanut (maple syrup + peanut butter?!) or perky sesame ginger (one of my friends got this and it tasted very much like chicken rice) or even one of the premium ones!

they grill your choice of seafood or meat on the spot after you place your order, so its nice and warm when the salad is served to your table. the prawns i had were juicy and crunchy, while the greens were very fresh. my friends enjoyed their chicken, though i felt it was a tad dry when i took a bite. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
$9.90 for my very generous portion of greens. a very satisfying bowl!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAM looking pleased as punch with her giant bowl of salad

none of us ordered the olive rice, but it seemed to be quite a popular choice with the rest of the patrons. it looked moist and hearty, and is done teochew style, instead of the thai-style olive rice that many of us would probably imagine it to be. given the huge range of exciting toppings and dressings to choose from when creating your own salad however, i think i’ll be sticking with the salad when i return. (also because my maid cooks an amazing teochew style olive rice ;))

they also have a coffee + cake counter selling rather reasonably priced coffees:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the lawn is a great place for a relaxing, casual and most importantly, healthy yet tasty lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the city. i will definitely be back when i eventually decide that its time for detox round 2… bets on when that’s going to happen are welcome ūüėČ

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The Lawn Grill & Salad Cafe

31 Biopolis Way,
Nanos #01-07,
Singapore 138669

Bloomsbury finds, London

had the chance to explore more food options in the bloomsbury area when the family visited and stayed in cartwright gardens just before i came home for summer! what a pity i never got down to trying these outlets earlier; i would probably have visited them quite a bit. good thing i’m not moving very far (at all) next year and so i’m going to have plenty of chances to frequent these places and make up for lost time hahaha!

1st place on the newly-discovered list: Chilli Cool!
should really have tried this place earlier. i think its the perfect place for students to get a legitimate asian food fix – reasonably-priced authentic sze chuan food in generous portions that are perfect for sharing! my friends and i had heard of and toyed with the idea of checking this place out and the hotpot buffet they have there at some point during the year, but just never got round to going… i think the lure of the juicy roast duck (and hazelnut + pistachio gelato at oddono’s after) at goldmine normally triumphed.

but because my dad is the ultimate china man (he needs his chinese food everywhere he goes – steamed white rice, piping hot soup etc), chilli cool (2 minute walk from our hotel) was the obvious choice for dinner on the first night we were back in london after cruising for 2 weeks with a lack of proper chinese food. (according to my mum, my dad’s cheeks had were getting more and more sunken by the day lol)

chilli cool occupies 2 spacious units along leigh street and is simply decorated but quite homely. we visited on a friday night and it was nearly full, patronised by a good mix of both asians (more often than not, a sign of the real deal when it comes to asian food heehee) and caucasians. besides the a la carte menu, they also have a hotpot buffet option – perfect for a cold winters day! we weren’t up for stuffing ourselves (post-cruise detox time!!!) so we ordered a few dishes from the a la carte menu to have with rice.

(sorry the pictures i have aren’t great at all; the lighting wasn’t very optimal and everyone was starving and wanted to tuck right in!)

here’s the chicken fried with chilli and cumin which was recommended by the waitress:
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not sure if you can see from the picture, but the servings are pretty big compared to what you’d get at a typical chinatown restaurant, and really good for sharing in a group. this chicken was probably my favourite dish of the night. it was fried to perfection and extremely flavourful! crispy on the outside in this yummy batter and juicy and tender on the inside. the chilli and cumin were also added in just the right amount, giving the dish a really satisfying kick! definitely going to order this again when i return… SO yummy that it made me forget every bit of deep-fried unhealthiness that was being consumed wahahaha. unfortunately, the picture really does not do the dish any justice ūüė¶

another typical szechuan dish: fried long beans with chilli20130628_210335
the beans were fresh and not overcooked such that they retained a nice bite. it was again a generous serving, but i wouldn’t recommend it to the faint-hearted (when it comes to spicy food), especially if you aren’t armed with tissue paper for dripping post-chilli noses. it was spicy even for us and we were really impressed by the caucasians at the next table who were happily devouring all of it… immunity achieved from repeat visits, maybe? ūüėČ the dish was really tasty and was delicious when eaten with rice.

HUGE bowl of fish soup:
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the bowl was seriously gigantic. to give some scale, the diameter of the bowl was nearly the width of the table!!! but our initial worries of not being able to finish it turned out to be unfounded since it was so delicious that there was nearly nothing left by the end of the meal. the soup is typically sze chuan and was served piping hot, full of green and red chillies, preserved vegetable, potato and plenty of fish slices. the fish was extremely fresh (definitely not the frozen kind), and what i really liked about it was that they were very generous with the ingredients, as you can probably see from the picture. this soup is perfect for sharing in a big group (it was way more than enough for the 4 of us) and i can imagine it tasting even more delicious on a blustery winters day… my only qualm about it was the shocking amount of oil that formed a thick layer at the top of the soup when it was first brought to our table, like an oil spill at sea. i was initially quite put off by it but we managed to scoop out most of it before tucking in, and once i did, it was so good that all oily thoughts were banished and everything was fine and dandy.

this was probably the most forgettable dish out of everything we ordered – tofu with black fungus and edamame:20130628_212108

in terms of flavour it was definitely outshone by the other dishes, but i suppose that’s what made it different from the rest, and not necessarily in a bad way! it was good palette cleanser since it was light and the least oily of all. definitely the healthiest too! the serving for this dish was exceptionally small though, and i probably won’t be ordering this the next time i go.

chilli cool was a great experience overall. service was prompt and friendly, and my family enjoyed the food (my dad certainly left a happier man with fuller cheeks :P) though we all agreed it definitely wasn’t the healthiest kind of food around given that most of it is fried and oily. nevertheless, am quite certain that i will be back, brandishing tissue and an empty stomach to try the hotpot buffet, maybe! if not, the a la carte menu has an extensive range of dishes so i have many more to try!

Chilli Cool

15 Leigh Street
WC1H 9EW

2nd place on the list: North Sea Fish Restaurant

another joint along leigh street, which caught my attention on the way to chilli cool because of the impressive number of stickers and accolades they had stuck in the shop window:
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(i was particularly taken in by the tripadvisor certificate of excellence + 2012 winner sticker wahahaha i am a tripadvisor review junkie)

there are 2 shops to the restaurant: one of them is for takeaways while the one is a proper sit-down restaurant that appears to be a nice ¬†little cosy and chill place for a good seafood meal. the mother and i were craving some good fish and chips one night after a long day of shopping and decided it would be perfect to buy some fish and chips back to our hotel to feast on ūüėČ

they have a range of fish available (check out the menu below), but we went with the cod as recommended by the very friendly guy behind the counter in the shop! we also wanted to try the salt and pepper squid but were sorely disappointed when we were told that they didn’t have them that day ūüė¶20130629_212343 20130629_213031

the service is efficient (which should be the case in takeaway outlets) and there were a few pieces of fish being kept warm in an oven-like thing, ready to go whenever a customer came in with an order. we ordered a jumbo-sized portion though, and so had to wait for about 10 minutes for it to be fried. there was a steady stream of customers coming in and leaving happily with their takeaway bags while we waited, adding to the anticipation that was building from the moment the gregarious guy behind the counter told us was the “only fish and chips you’ll eat in london from now on”! i later found out that the fish and chips here has been touted as a contender for the best fish and chips in london!

bag of purported goodness:
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got back to the room and was greeted by this piece of fish gloriously glistening away under the light:20130629_214427
we felt that it was definitely worth paying a little more to get the jumbo-sized portion because it was really a rather big piece of fish! but of course if you’re having it alone then a regular-sized portion would probably suffice. the fish was EXTREMELY fresh – we were told that the restaurant only uses fresh fish and never any frozen fish at all, which i really like about them because usually for fish and chips and other fried fish dishes in general, its often the case that frozen fish is used instead of fresh catch and not much attention is paid to the quality of the fish used.

the batter was light, crispy and not too thick. it was clear that the oil used was fresh, and i know i’m repeating myself here but the fish was really of great quality. a drool-worthy close up of the fish:¬†20130629_215152
as for the chips, they were alright, but nothing to shout about. i felt that they could have done with a bit more salt & vinegar, but that can be easily requested for when placing your order. i would also have preferred them to be a little crispier on the outside. its possible that they became slightly soggy from the condensation that resulted from being wrapped up in paper while hot, but the walk home was only three minutes and so i think they probably weren’t very crispy to begin with. do note that they charge separately for the fish and the chips.

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think i might go with a different accompaniment to my fish the next time i patronise north sea… am eyeing the beer battered mushrooms and the salt and pepper squid! might also give the sit-down restaurant a try – they serve a range of seafood in a range of cooking styles (grilled, fried etc) along with homemade desserts.

best fish and chips in london? i would say its definitely one of the better renditions of this national dish, but wouldn’t be so quick to say its the best, especially since i felt that the chips could have been done better! i have also had some really good fish and chips at Bonnie Gull (21A Foley St, London W1W 6DS). both are worth a try!

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North Sea Fish Restaurant

7-8 Leigh Street
London WC 1H 9EW

3rd place on the list: King of Falafel

grabbed a quick bite from this little cafe serving moroccan/lebanese-type food, and immediately wished i had discovered it earlier on in the year!!! had the falafel wrap which was SUPER delicious, filled with the yummiest falafel ever and lots of fresh salad and scrumptious homemade sauce. i had it in a normal wrap, though there’s the option of paying a little more and having the wrap in homemade spinach/tomato (if i’m not wrong) moroccan bread. there’s also the option of adding halloumi cheese, which i am sure is delicious! its a big wrap which they cut into 2, and it’s overflowing with goodness heehee.¬†i LOVE falafel, and this is probably one of the best i’ve had. it was perfectly spiced and just the right amount of crumbliness while not being too dry at all – a must try for all falafel fans out there!!!

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i definitely want to go back to try their range of meat skewers and salads and houmous. was eyeing the super hearty and wholesome plates of food that some at the cafe were having while i was getting my wrap to go. just look at that hunger-inducing display that’s filled with all things amazing:
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everything is really reasonably priced too! they have coffees for under ¬£2, and the lebanese falafel wrap was just ¬£3.50 if I’m not wrong…
king of falafel is definitely going to be one of my first stops once i’m back in london after summer!!!

King of Falafel

5 Tavistock Place
London WC1N

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 ūüėČ

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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ūüôā

Soon Heng Silver Stream Rojak, Singapore

I AM OFFICIALLY GOING THROUGH A PHASE WHERE I AM OBSESSED WITH ROJAK.

its the strangest thing because i never used to like it this much. it was something i wouldn’t mind having to share while at a hawker centre, but over this easter break, it has become (for seriously unfathomable reasons – i am so puzzled) something i NEED to have whenever i see a stall selling it hahaha!!!

for the confused non-singaporean readers out there (hello! you should really make a trip to singapore one day to FEAST if you love food as much as we do) – rojak is “a Singaporean-style salad of beansprouts, greens, tau pok, you tiao, pineapple, cucumber, and peanuts tossed with a prawn paste.” (thank you google for that definition) it’s kind of like a traditional local salad we eat here in south east asia, and can also have sweet turnip, green apple, mango and cuttlefish as ingredients, just to name a few. as you have probably gathered, it is a dish where anything goes – a whole range of ingredients can be added; in fact, rojak is malay for “mixture”, hence the very apt name for the dish.

getting a taste of this supposedly famous rojak at toa payoh has just fuelled this sudden love for rojak. check this out:

 

i think what sets good rojak apart from the rest is its sauce, and this soon heng silver stream (what a mouthful) rojak was drenched in a delicious sauce. it was the perfect mix of sweet and sour (though my dad noted that it was sweeter than most other rojak sauces – but that was what made it nice!!!) and they were ultra generous with the peanuts. they also add cuttlefish into the rojak which not every rojak stall does, and our $5 serving was a really big one for its price. great value!

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definitely my go-to place for rojak at the moment, till i find one that can beat this heehee. have been dreaming of it since i last had it, and MOSDEF need to go back for more this weekend before i fly back to london for exams ugh.

PS. my mother’s response to my latest obsession:IMG_20130416_133120

PPS. yes, she genuinely wants me to get fat.

PPPS. hi mum if you’re reading this!!! (she did promise to be a loyal follower of rockabitebaby heehee)