Platypus Kitchen, Singapore

previously catering to mainly the working crowd at their first branch in the heart of the cbd at clifford centre, Platypus Kitchen is now catering to a more diverse clientele at 2 other locations – bugis junction and bukit timah plaza.

i first heard about it when i was interning at raffles place last year but unfortunately never got the chance to try it during my short working stint. so i was really excited to hear about their new branches that are a lot more accessible to people who don’t fancy heading into the business district to jostle with the working crowd!

occupying a spacious area on the third floor of bugis junction, Platypus Kitchen prides itself on offering not only the widest selection of handmade pastas in singapore, but also as mediterannean bistro serving quality food at affordable prices. i paid the bugis junction outlet a visit last tuesday night, and thought they did pretty well at living up to the reputation they have created for themselves!20130806_200241
platypus kitchen at bugis junction

it was definitely affordable, with a set menu (for both lunch & dinner!) starting from $16.90 that included a choice of starter (pumpkin soup, mushroom soup or salad), a pasta (an additional $1-$2+ was added for certain more “gourmet” pastas) and a drink (a whole range of exciting-sounding but not so exciting-tasting options):20130806_185750

the selection available in the set menu was surprisingly extensive and gave indecisive me quite a headache deciding what to get – everything looked/sounded so good! luckily we had decided that the set menu was too good to pass on, so that limited our choices to the (not so) few you see above; the main menu takes being spoilt for choice to a whole new level and is a real nightmare for the indecisive like me, though i suppose that is a happy problem? and a very good way of getting people to keep returning to try more of what they have to offer!

20130806_185850 happy val with the a-la-carte menu

we both chose the wild mushroom soup as a starter which i felt was passable but certainly nothing to shout about. it had bits of mushroom in it that added a slight chunkiness which i like, but i thought the soup could definitely have been thicker and creamier. it seemed slightly watered-down (probably ladled out from a giant ready-made pot), and definitely could do with a bit more of a really fragrant portobello mushroom type of kick! but that said, maybe that’s too much to expect from a mushroom soup that comes as part of a set menu or otherwise at a very reasonable price of $3.90 a bowl.20130806_190500
mushroom soup and lychee peach tea

the drinks on the other hand, were really rather terrible. my lychee peach tea tasted nothing even remotely like lychee or peach! if not for the fact that there was a lone lychee bobbing around in the drink, i would have thought they’d sent the wrong drink. my friend’s mango peach tea was just slightly better, but both were as diluted as each other and just tasted like iced tea without the sugar syrup. a big disappointment, especially when i got excited by the range of interesting flavoured teas they had that came with the set menu.

for our pastas, we ordered 2 of their most popular pastas – a truffle carbonara tagliatelle and a black & white scallop & crab. both were good, but the black & white was the one that really stood out for us!!! (note 3 !s to denote excitement and sheer delight :P)

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black & white, scallop & crab $17.50 / an additional $2.40 with the set menu

the black & white is something i will definitely go back to Platypus Kitchen for – a mixture of egg and squid-ink tagliolini with crab and scallops in a white wine consomme. i loved the mixture of noodle types, the white wine consomme which had a tinge of zestiness in it, and the generous servings of crabmeat and scallops. the ingredients were fresh and the consomme was light, its very subtle sourness giving the sauce a really refreshing lift. i absolutely loved this dish!

as for the truffle carbonara, i normally avoid creamy pastas like the plague (the closest thing i’ll have to anything creamy is a pink sauce) but decided to give this a shot since it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. plus it had truffle (my fave) which totally egged me on in my foray into the land of creamy sauces.20130806_191230truffle carbonara tagliatelle $16.50 / an additional $1.90 with the set menu

the carbonara was much lighter than other carbonaras i’ve had (that have managed to leave me unable to finish the dish halfway through it – an extremely rare occurrence, i assure you); you can probably see that from the picture above! it wasn’t just the fact that the amount of sauce that the pasta was tossed in was less than normal, it was also the fact that the sauce itself (an egg yolk-based sauce, apparently) was quite light. i think the taste of truffle (that was rather strong) definitely helped to distract me from the usual creaminess in carbonaras that can sometimes be overpowering. i also really enjoyed the mushroom slices, cheese and double-smoked bacon that topped the pasta pile. it was definitely one of the better renditions of carbonara that i’ve tried, but i still preferred the black & white since it was something more unusual.

although we were super satisfied and rather full after our pastas, we couldn’t resist dessert, of which they have a sizeable number of options! we ordered a sea salt caramel to share and were pleasantly surprised by the portion which was quite generous for its price, quite unusual at such cafes that can typically serve desserts in rather meagre portions!20130806_201447sea salt caramel $6.90

the most interesting/amusing part of the dessert was the popping candy that topped it. we only realised it was popping candy after we each took our first bites and started hearing loud crackling sounds emerging from the depths of our mouths – definitely awkward first date food… or on the other end of the spectrum, a (quite literally) sizzlin’ one? hahahahaha! popping candy aside, the dessert wasn’t fantastic but it was a decent end to a good meal. there wasn’t a very strong sea salt caramel flavour at all – it seemed to have been lost in the chocolate sauce and peanuts that were rather distinct flavours in this seemingly confused cake. that said, it still succeeded in satisfying our craving for a sweet end to the meal.

Platypus Kitchen is definitely a great place to go if you are looking for affordable gourmet pastas with quality ingredients. i’m already looking forward to the next time i get to return to try more of their exciting offerings!

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Platypus Kitchen

200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction
#03-29/29A20130806_211309

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

Binging in Brighton

had a wonderful time on a day trip out to brighton last weekend! what seemed like a potentially disappointing trip when we left early in the morning (i actually wore WELLIES to brighton; was defeated by the rain D:) turned out to be a great day away from the hustle and bustle of london!!! not just because of the great sights and great company, but also the great FOOD (glorious food).

tripadvisor was helpful as usual with plenty of highly-ranked suggestions, and we settled for this quaint cafe run by a mother & daughter pair just down the road from the train station for lunch. ella’s yummy delights seemed really popular with the locals – there was a steady stream of customers during the entire two hours we spent in the shop, and we even struck up conversation with some of the regulars and the lady behind the counter; everyone was so friendly and there was a such a homely and cosy atmosphere in the little shop! we started with 2 soups – tomato soup and leek soup, and 2 toasties – bacon, brie and cranberry & ham, cheese and onion. All were super yummy.20130316115914633

its hard to take a picture of a toastie that makes it look exceptional, but trust me, my bacon + brie + cranberry one was SUPER DELICIOUS. They were generous with the fillings and the brie was perfectly melted all over the bacon, which was perfectly cooked. A generous dose of cranberry and granary bread to go with it all made it one of the best toasties I’ve ever had!!! Yummmmm – so simple yet so good!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20130316_120130janus had a ham + cheese + onion toastie, and he found it equally good, saying there was something about “Brighton bread” LOL – don’t ask me what he meant; he got his toastie with what seemed to be normal white sandwich bread.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe soups were good as well – big bowls of hearty, warm, homemade goodness. Lou ordered a tomato soup (see picture above) while Janus went with the leek soup. I thought the leek soup was rather special – it was thick and almost stew-like in consistency, chock full of pieces of leek (cooked till it didn’t have that distinct onion-ish/some might even say pungent flavour) and meat. Homemade and a generous portion as well!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA they both felt that the soups became slightly heavy after awhile though, and a little too salty too! I think “gelat” would be the right word for it – for the uninformed, its malay slang that means something is over cloying.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi ordered my standard chai latte to go with our meal and i loved how it was thick, frothy and creamy, though a tad too sweet for my liking. I felt it could have done with a bit more spice!

ATTACKED THE DESSERTS NEXT!!!
check out lou & janus excitedly peering into the cake display. we took ages to decide what we wanted and it didn’t help that a regular customer told us EVERYTHING was good and she’d tried them all before haha! she also mentioned that she’d once been to ella’s thrice in a day – that’s how much she liked the place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter some serious deliberation, we finally settled for a cappuccino cake, a moo-moo cake and a spotty!
excited faces (aka a nicer way of saying “the face of pigs”):903622_10151364506138652_249460852_o

the slices were huge and more than enough for the 3 of us to satisfy our craving for something sweet:
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THE SPOTTY: chocolate & vanilla crumble with strawberries
our favourite of the day! it was dense and moist and the layer of crumble on the top was exactly how a crumble should be! it had just the right amount of bite and a really nice texture that made it melt in our mouths along with the icing sugar on top – YUMZ! the vanilla, chocolate & berries combined seamlessly and every bite was delicious (Y)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThick with many layers of coffee goodness and some kind of cream cheese-ish frosting. It was something like a tiramisu but less moist, firmer, and with more cream cheese and sponge! The cream cheese layer was really yummy and we thoroughly enjoyed it but found it a little heavy after a while. As you can see from the pic, it was a giant slice that seemed to be leaning backwards from its sheer weight hahahaha!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this was our least favourite of the 3 – not that it was bad, but that it was nothing exceptional (i guess sponge cake can never really be particularly unique?)! The sponge was good – moist and of just the right density.

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our overall take on the cakes was that they weren’t mindblowingly amazing, but they were delicious homemade treats; the kind of cake that was wholesome and hearty and perfect for comfort food 🙂

and most importantly, everything was really reasonably priced! The total bill for our 3 huge slices of cakes, 2 coffees, 2 toasties & 2 soups came up to  just around £20 – what we thought was a great deal for the portion size, service and quality of food served.

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Ella’s Yummy Delights

51 Queen’s Rd  Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3XB, United Kingdom
+44 7540 892697
after ella’s, we explored north laine,
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and saw so many other quaint cafes that we wanted to try but unfortunately had no stomach room for! what we couldn’t resist though, was making a froyo stop at Lick.
the bright and attractive colours of the store drew us inside (along with the declaration in their window that they were the “first frozen yoghurt shop in Brighton”) and we were not disappointed!
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we got a cup of their special flavour of the day to share – elderflower. IT WAS AMAZING. none of us had tried elderflower frozen yoghurt before and it was really refreshing, light, and natural-tasting, and the elderflower flavour was subtle yet unmistakeable! it was more towards the creamy end of the frozen yoghurt spectrum, and the granola toppings were yummy as well. can’t say it was better than my all-time favourite pinkberry, though it doesn’t come in too far behind 😉
will definitely make a trip back here next time i’m in brighton!!!
Lick

19 Gardner Street
Brighton, Sussex BN1 1UP, United Kingdom
01273 945102

finally, we ate at a casual seafood restaurant called Melrose for dinner. it was highly recommended on trip advisor and was just a short walk from the pier so we decided to give it a try! the restaurant was not very crowded when we first arrived, but soon filled up as it got later, with a noticeably local clientele (always a good sign?). the restaurant was run by a couple and they were friendly and ever-willing to give us recommendations.
we settled on a pot of mussels, a fish (haddock) and chips, and a grilled fish platter to share.

grilled fish platter:
it came with salmon, cod, halibut, calamari and scampi. they were all lightly seasoned which was great because it allowed us to taste and appreciate the freshness of the seafood without it being overpowered by any heavy or strong-tasting sauce. the fish was very fresh and the calamari & scampi were well-fried (I particularly enjoyed the scampi – but then again, my standards are probably exceedingly low given the kind of scampi they serve in hall hahaha). i wouldn’t RAVE about the dish though.
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fried fillet of haddock with chips:

thought this was rather yummy. the haddock was really fresh and coated in just the right amount of batter so that it really complemented the fish. we could tell that the oil used was fresh, and the fish had none of the “fishy” smell you sometimes get from buying cheap fish & chips from random street stalls.20130316_184338

we also had mussels in white wine and garlic sauce (which you unfortunately cannot see very well in this picture because the sauce was at the bottom) and it was delicious!!! my favourite dish of dinner i think! the mussels were plump and juicy and the sauce was seriously yummy; i was drinking it off a spoon when we ran out of bread (oh, the bread was good – it had some kind of cheese on top of it I think?)!!!
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all in all, i wouldn’t RAVE about melrose but i do think it is a good option for reasonably priced fresh seafood, and i would say the local clientele says something about the standard of the food in the restaurant. not a bad choice for a seafood meal! they also have a dessert cart with homemade puddings & cakes on it for you to choose should you be interested, which i thought was a nice, homely touch.

Melrose Restaurant

132 King’s Rd  City Centre, Brighton BN1 2HH, United Kingdom
+44 1273 326520

shall end off this post leaving you with this picture:
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heeheehee.
am already looking forward to the next time I visit brighton – so many more food places to explore and try out!!! 🙂
– rach

Who’s your daddy?

We had initially intended to go to the famed Burger & Lobster for dinner. Owing, however, to the approximated 2 hour wait, we decided to adjourn somewhere else. My buddy Chor Hiang suggested this ramen place just off Wardour Street called Bone Daddies. With a name like Bone Daddies, my visiting friend from Oxford, Tong Hui and I were naturally highly suspicious. I mean what kind of F&B establishment calls itself Bone Daddies?!! After much thought though, I realised, much to my own dismay as well, there again, that what kind of blog is called rockabite, baby?? So cynicism unjustified, I guess: nomenclature is not fully representative and should not be used as a judging criterion. Any doubts that we initially had were eventually, and perhaps even conclusively, quelled when we saw the queue outside the restaurant. It was uber looooong. The queue extended beyond the entire corridor of the restaurant into that of the massage parlour next door. And that wasn’t it; there was another round of queuing inside. Madness, should have just gone back to Burger & Lobster eh. But seeing the number of people willing to queue in the cold dreary weather outside, we willed ourselves to brave the frostbites and got in line.Photo 19-03-2013 07 43 07 PM

Tong Hui, who I must emphasise is of University of Oxford provenance, said that the soup of ramen – being made from boiling pork bone for more than 10 hours – increases one’s chances of getting cancer by 15% or something. *TOUCH WOOD* Seeing the people queuing outside and the people slurping sumptuously inside, I reckoned this was either a myth or that the ramen was so good it was worth the health risk! Not that it mattered, we were going in anyway.

Set up like a bar, with bar stools and not chairs, and with rock music playing in the background, Bones Daddies was conceptually as surprising as its name. Indeed this combination of such a setting with ramen was interesting. The queue inside was rather agonising, especially as we felt so close to the food yet still so far.Photo 19-03-2013 08 18 46 PM

Making it worse was this party of 4 seated in front of us, who had finished their food but continued playing some lame numbers game. They were taking their own sweet time to leave; it was diabetes-inducing. And the clearing of tables for a turnover of customers was also pretty slow by the service staff. This made the wait painfully long, particularly when they give you the menu while you are standing in line.

After 15358230231051 years, we were led to our seats. First thing I noticed was that the layout of the tables was pretty cool. They had chilli oil, sesame seeds, chopsticks and this interesting garlic masher. Photo 19-03-2013 08 40 37 PM Photo 19-03-2013 08 40 52 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 40 05 PMI guess this gives people a choice if they want their garlics whole or mashed. Or to have their ramen completely without an excess garlic-y taste at all. The item that caught my attention the most was, however, the bottle with hair bands in it. I felt it was a nice and thoughtful touch as peeps with long hair often get their hair into the broth, making both the hair and broth disgusting. Photo 19-03-2013 08 45 42 PM Photo 19-03-2013 08 48 05 PM

Anyway we placed our orders and we each got the purportedly famous tonkatsu ramen. On the menu it was stated that the bones are  boiled for 20 hours – which makes, assuming Tong Hui was not bs-ing, us doubly susceptible to cancer compared to the average ramen eater elsewhere! Anyhow, Chor Hiang, the friend who recommended this place, mentioned that the servings were a tad small. It was also suggested that we enhance the flavour of the broth with a topping of cock scratching (£0.80), whatever that was. I was undecided but after considerable scratching (of my head), however, I decided to stick with the tried and tested extra bean sprouts and an extra egg.Photo 19-03-2013 08 16 52 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 18 26 PM

Alas the ramen arrived and it smelt great.  Before we began eating, we saw this group of Caucasian ladies taking pictures of their food. Stereotype disproved! And I guess it also suggests something about the quality of the food there that others, and not just this food blogger extraordinaire, were keen to capture their palettes in photos.Photo 19-03-2013 08 51 02 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 42 33 PM

On to the ramen. The bean sprouts were crunchy and juicy. The egg yolks were runny and viscous at the same time. Done almost to perfection! It was really rich in taste as well. And the texture of the yolk in your mouth – it just melts.Photo 19-03-2013 08 52 45 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 53 44 PM

The serving of meat was decent, two big pieces that were thinly sliced with a nice decent amount of fat, making it supple and tasty without an overly swinish (yes, yes, I know it’s still pork, nonetheless) and oily taste. Looks sinful, I know; but if it’s healthful, chances are it won’t taste as nice!Photo 19-03-2013 08 56 36 PMThe broth was really thick. It was almost as though I was drinking a cream of ramen soup instead. I guess it was nice, and I doubt you can justify charging 3 quid for extra broth if it isn’t good! There was also a judicious amount of spring onions and radish slices in the broth. Some veggies to justify the indulgence. However, the radish taste was a bit overpowering and I think this may put some people off, especially if they’re not radish fans. The noodles themselves, though, were pretty average. No special taste or extra ‘bounce’ that other famous ramen restaurants profess to have.

Halfway through, I decided to add some chilli into the mix. I felt it enhanced the taste of the soup in a good way, giving the thick broth – which gets static in taste after almost an entire bowl – a bit of an extra kick. Not too much chilli though, it was rather spicy and may overwhelm one’s palette if too much is added.Photo 19-03-2013 08 59 51 PM

It was funny that their bowls had a ‘thanks’ written at the bottom, almost as though they expected everyone to finish the broth to the last drop. Well, I did anyway and was amused by their sense of humour. The bowl of ramen was filling, unlike my friend had previously warned. Maybe it was the extra egg and bean sprouts.Photo 19-03-2013 09 03 15 PM

On a side note though, what I had mentioned previously about the radish proved right too – my friend left all his radish untouched, citing the fact that it tasted strong and he didn’t really like radish. Perhaps they could consider doing something like the whole garlic pieces with radish as well?

Overall, it was really good ramen, the soup was really rich, perhaps a tad overly so for my liking. But the eggs were really appetising and the quirky combination of a bar setting and rock music with ramen was truly something original. Would I be back? Not if I had to endure another almost 2 hour wait, especially in the kind of cold we endured. However, for a tad under £15, it is a place that I would definitely recommend, at least once – for the entire experience (queuing aside) if not just the food. Is it, then, worth the repeated exposure to cancer risk? I think not.DSCN1589

Bone Daddies
31 Peter St,
London W1F 0AR