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.
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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…
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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:
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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:
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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:
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dessurger – brioche bun, lemon custard, chantilly cream, vanilla parfait crusted in pistachio and blackberry jam

SIDE VIEW:
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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.

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BRGR.CO

87 Wardour St
London W1F 8ZD

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, Singapore

i was never a fan of bak chor mee until my mother took me to this place on a random afternoon after we collected my passport at the immigration & checkpoints authority. the stall is in a coffeeshop which is behind the immigrations building, and can be accessed via a pedestrian bridge across a canal that’s near the open-air carpark next to the building. one spoonful of the noodles and i was sold!!! (still wouldn’t say i am a bcm convert though, because this is probably the only bcm i ever crave)

i’ve gone back every single time i’m back home and each time, the queue seems to be longer. not sure if its because its become more popular of late or because i’ve just been going at the wrong times, but i think it might be the former since on my most recent visit there, we arrived at 11am (we thought it was the perfect time to beat the lunch crowd) and ended up queuing for 1 hour and 20 minutes. by the time we got our food, everyone at the table still thought it was worth it though, so i guess that means i will be returning to conquer the crowds once my craving for it hits again…

what greeted us when we clambered out of the car at 11am on a weekday morning:20130723_112026half of the queue. there were about 10-15 more people that couldn’t fit into this shot; the queue so long and snaking that i couldn’t even take a panorama shot to get the entire queue in 1 picture lol

by the time we reached the front of the queue, more than an hour had passed and my cousin decided that she needed to order the biggest bowl available ($10) to make the queuing worth it. 😉 the smallest bowl costs $5, and the largest $10:20130723_121049

she managed to finish every single bit of it!!! (as i mentioned before, a huge appetite and thankfully, a high metabolism to accompany it, runs in the family :P) as you can see in the picture below, the bowl itself is actually really large and it comes with a bigger bowl of soup too, but what makes it cost more is actually additional ingredients and not anything else. the noodles given in the $10 portion aren’t significantly more, but if you compare this picture to the next one, you can definitely see the difference in the amount of meat/liver/fried fish/meatballs/dumplings they give!20130723_122842 $10 bowl

this is the $6 bowl:20130723_122900$6 bowl

so what exactly makes this bak chor mee so good?

1. the noodles are cooked to perfection. they aren’t in the least bit overcooked and retain a delicious bite while not being too hard. you’ll also never find bits of clumpy noodles stuck together (that is pretty common in noodles that aren’t as well-cooked). my personal preference is mee kia, but both the mee kia and mee pok are good!

2. the sauce – note that this sauce is a vinegar-based type of sauce so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. having grown up eating dry noodles in sauce that always includes some vinegar, this to me is the best sauce ever.

3. the chilli is really really good.

4. the ingredients are all delicious. the meat, like the noodles, is perfectly cooked – sweet, tender and not overcooked at all! the liver is crunchy and delicious (my sister who normally avoids liver like the plague actually enjoys this liver), the dumpling is not at all the kind of dumpling that has more skin than filling (in fact many people order a bowl of soup with dumplings on top of their bowl of bcm), and the meatballs are a yummy touch. and the pieces of fried solefish (ti poh) that top the dish are like icing on top of the cake – so good.

at this point, if the only reason why i haven’t successfully managed to convince you to go give this delicious bcm a try is the long queue, then i hope this helps me to further build my case 😉 :20130723_114706

another stall in the coffee shop does very good fried dumplings (guo tie) as well as chive pancakes! plus their queue is never as long as the queue for bcm, so this is a great snack as an appetiser or energy boost for the queuing while waiting in line for your noodles! the guo tie is perfectly brown and crispy on the outside without being burnt at all (check out the pic – no black bits in sight!), while the chive pancake is really well done with generous amounts of very fresh and juicy chives. both aren’t too oily as well – barely any oil was found left on the dish when we were done. i would definitely recommend ordering this along with your bak chor mee! the stall that sells these items is the 2nd stall to the left of the bak chor mee stall.

there is a western stall in between the bak chor mee stall and the guo tie stall, and this western stall is supposed to sell very decent coffeeshop-type western food! they actually have newspaper clippings about them stuck at the stall so it must be pretty good! i’ve never been one to go for western food in hawker settings though, so i’ve never given this a try. i guess this is a good option if you’re eating here with young kids who might not fancy or appreciate a bowl of bak chor mee as much as they would a plate of pork chop with fries. 20130723_113011 L to R: guo tie stall, western stall, bak chor mee stall

there is a carpark right by the coffee shop so its pretty convenient eating here if you drive! if not, walking from lavender mrt which is right by the immigration building is also a breeze. definitely be prepared to queue for about an hour if you head down at lunch/dinner time. if not, going once it opens in the morning (930am if I’m not wrong) or mid-afternoon should help to shorten the waiting time.

although my parents say that there is a stall in hong lim food centre that serves very similar bak chor mee with a shorter queue that moves more quickly, i have yet to try it and so hill street tai hwa pork noodle is currently still my favourite go-to place for bak chor mee in singapore 🙂

UPDATE: aforementioned hong lim bak chor mee has been tried and tested a few times, and unfortunately i have been disappointed each time! i find that its downfall is mainly in its noodles – what you get at hong lim somehow just lacks the same satisfying al-dente bite that hill street tai hwa somehow manages to deliver every. single. time. besides the noodles, i find that the ingredients at hill street tai hwa are always cooked to perfection, never over or underdone whereas the hong lim bak chor mee lacks that same consistency. hill street tai hwa – you have my heart, always and forever! ❤

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Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

#01-12, Tai Hwa Eating House
466 Crawford Lane
Singapore 190466

Saveur, Singapore

i first patronised Saveur about a year ago at their bugis branch and remember being quite satisfied with the lunch i had there, so i was quite excited when they opened another outlet at far east plaza a few months ago!

the crowd at far east plaza seems to be a bit more manageable; i remember having to go to the bugis branch right at opening time so that we were guaranteed a seat at their first seating. once the restaurant filled up, you’d be sent away and told to come back later. i’m not sure if thats still the case there, or if the crowd was merely due to the initial hype that came with an ex-coffee shop stall serving up affordable french cuisine moving to their own restaurant-style premises. whatever the case, i was pleasantly surprised when we did not have to queue at all when i visited the far east plaza branch at 1230pm on a wednesday afternoon. the restaurant gradually filled up though, and a queue soon formed outside the door. service is rather efficient and quick however, and so the queue moves relatively quickly.

the decor at both branches is modern (albeit simple), and very pleasant for a good meal. i think i prefer the ambience at the bugis branch to that in the far east branch though! if my memory serves me well, the bugis outlet has a white colour scheme, making the restaurant appear quite nice and bright. but food-wise, i think they are pretty much the same – as good as each other!

we ordered Saveur’s signature pasta to share as a starter. at an extremely affordable price of $4.90 for a regular-sized portion (we paid an extra $2 for a bigger sharing portion), its hard to go wrong with this order.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaveur’s pasta tossed with chilli oil, japanese konbu & sakura ebi with minced pork sauce – $4.90

i thought this was a very well-presented dish (given the price – equivalent or even less than a bowl of bak chor mee!). the angel hair pasta was cooked just right; it was moist and retained a bite while not being too hard. i liked how each strand of noodle was infused with subtle tastiness and this was achieved without having them swimming in a dish full of sauce (in fact as you can see from the picture, there is no excess sauce on the plate at all), keeping the dish light, as a starter should be! the ebi contributed to the texture of the dish, adding a nice crunch to the pasta.

for mains, the first thing we ordered was the duck confit:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
duck confit – $10.90

i don’t think there’s anywhere else in singapore where you can get duck confit of this quality at $10.90! of course its not the quality of duck you’d get at a fancy french fine-dining restaurant, but for the price you are paying, there is really nothing at all to complain about. the duck was well-cooked as duck confit should be – the skin was crispy while the meat within was tender and moist. the mashed potato was smooth and creamy, and the mushrooms were juicy and well-cooked (if only they gave a few more!), this is definitely an extremely popular item on their menu; nearly every table in the restaurant had at least one serving of this main.

the second main we ordered was the beef:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
beef short ribs braised in red wine – $14.90

being beef, it is one of the more expensive mains on the menu (along with the fish) at $14.90. the beef was very tender and juicy and the sauce it was braised in was nice. however i think if we hadn’t shared all our mains and i had ordered this dish just for myself, it might have bordered on being “jelat” towards the end, because the sauce tends towards being heavy. the potatoes (potato au gratin) that accompanied it were delicious! despite the creamy sauce, they were not heavy at all and were a nice balance to the beef’s sauce.

our final main was the pork:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
pork belly with lentils and soft-boiled egg – $10.90

i love pork, i would say its probably my favourite meat along with duck! the skin of this pork belly slab was divine – it was crispy and very much like the skin of the best chinese roast porks. the meat was also very good – it was tender, juicy and moist. my only qualm is that the serving size was really small. 2 mouthfuls each and it was gone! i like lentils, and am also the hugest fan ever of soft boiled eggs (the one here was cooked to perfection) so this dish was really just my cup of tea 🙂

we skipped dessert as they were not that cheap (unlike the rest of their dishes) and we figured we’d probably be more satisfied with a huge cup of bubble tea or froyo each 😛

i would say my expectations for my visit to the far east plaza branch of Saveur were definitely met. the quality of the food was as good as i remembered it to be, though the serving sizes were also as small as i remembered them to be hahaha. ordering a main each is definitely insufficient (unless you have a tiny appetite). ordering starters thus becomes quite necessary and i suppose this might make you spend more than you initially planned on. but then again, for the price you are paying, i think its a very decent meal that you get.

saveur is known for providing quality french food inexpensively to the masses, and i think they are doing a pretty good job at living up to this reputation.

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Saveur

14 Scotts Road
Far East Plaza #01-07B
Singapore 228213

Flat Iron, London

what better way to celebrate release from the evil clutches of exams than feasting on some good food? my friend suggested trying flat iron right after our criminal law paper and we were all so happy that she did, because it was really really good stuff.

got a little lost walking to beak street from school (our brains were fried from the mad rush that writing – or should i say scribbling – 4 essays in 3 hours is) so by the time we reached flat iron at 2pm, we were all super starving. but our hunger pangs were very quickly satiated by what they put on the table once we arrived:Image

POPCORN!!! we all thought it was such a cute/novel touch! along with the mini choppers for knives hahaha.

anyway, the menu at flat iron is really simple and straightforward. there’s steak for £10, and a range of sides and sauces to choose from to have with your steak.

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we planned to save space for dessert so we didn’t order much – just a steak each, and a side of roast aubergine to share!

the steak. was. SO. GOOD.

(sorry these are bad pics i know 😦 the lighting wasn’t very optimal for good pictures with my phone camera!)Image

the meat was perfectly done – every bite was amazingly juicy, flavourful, moist and tender and even though i had mine done medium, it was not AT ALL dry or tough. so so so good. i’m  nearly salivating just thinking of it. srsly. really really good steak. my friend who normally doesn’t take meat was saying she probably wouldn’t be able to finish her beef but once she took the first bite, all such thoughts were banished and her plate was as squeaky clean as all of ours were at the end 😉

we found the portion just nice though i think some might find it on the small side, especially hungry boys! the greens that came with the steak were really fresh and had a nice, light dressing, and the aubergine was a hit among the 4 of us. it was simple but very delicious! apparently the creamed spinach is something thats very popular there as well, but i only found this out after we had our meal so that’s something i will have to try next time!Image

we also tried fred’s sauce, but it was nothing to shout about. personally i think you can give the sauces a miss because the meat by itself is super delicious and really doesn’t need much to make it even better. in fact, the sauces might even mask the natural sweetness of the meat?

the restaurant isn’t very big and i think the only reason why we didn’t have to queue is because we had a late lunch (2pm). they don’t take reservations and the queues are apparently snaking at dinnertime so if you’re planning on going, either go early or go late!

there’s no service charge too, so its really just £10 for a really good steak.

will definitely be heading back when i’m feeling carnivorous…

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Flat Iron
17 Beak St
London W1F 9RW

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)

La Nonna, Singapore

checked out this italian restaurant on a tuesday afternoon, and we enjoyed an amazing 50% off the food bill (an ongoing offer they have at their outlet at namly place)!!! good food + great company + amazing discount + parallel parking success outside the restaurant = three happy girls.

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we had a late lunch at 130 and were the only customers when we arrived. they (rather unhappily; probably weren’t expecting any more customers for lunch) told us they were closing at 230pm but that didn’t deter us one bit! good food awaited us and we were ravenous!

the meal started with some bread rolls which were nicely warmed up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the first thing we ordered was a crabmeat linguine in creamy tomato sauce – this wasn’t on the menu but my friend requested it and they were more than willing to do it for us, which was nice. it was very good! the crab was fresh and they were generous with it – definitely not shredded up frozen crabsticks or anything of that sort. the sauce was also great, it had a cream base but was light and of a great consistency – thicker than normal tomato-based sauces but not too thick at all!
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we also ordered their signature pizza which had tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, asparagus, egg and black truffle – it was a really delicious combination and this is something i would go back to la nonna for! not just because i LOVE truffle, but also because of the wet egg yolk (MY FAVOURITE OMG), asparagus and the thin crust! it was a light pizza and something very different from what you’d get from the commercialised pizza chains – the usual oily, unhealthy, processed pepperoni/pineapple/ham stuff.
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the third thing we ordered was the gnocchi. i can’t remember exactly what went into the sauce, but it was cream-based with a touch of lemon zest. we agreed that we preferred antoinette’s version of gnocchi in cream sauce (though that one seems to be heavier), but this was not too bad either! the gnocchi was soft and quite fluffy, and the sauce was not too gelat (i realise i use this word a lot hahaha but it is really the most apt thing i can think of in many situations!!!).
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the servings were pretty big so by the time we got to dessert, we only had space for 1 to share – the panna cotta, which was really really good, and quivering away in all its wobbly goodness! it was extremely well done, and we derived great excitement from watching the wobbly tower threaten to collapse as the waitress brought it to our table. it was light, creamy and of the perfect texture – a great rendition of a classic italian dessert!
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total bill: SGD42 (after 50% discount – AMAZING DEAL)

who i would recommend this to: people who drive as the namly outlet is pretty inaccessible  on foot. an alternative would be to go to the holland village outlet which is a lot more convenient to get to via public transport, but the offer there is a 1-for-1 offer instead of a 50% one. a place for a nice, casual, leisurely lunch with food that’s of a good quality and great value for money when the discount is available for lunch on weekdays!

will i be back? will definitely go back to enjoy the great savings at lunch and if i’m craving italian food!

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La Nonna
76 Namly Place
Singapore 267226