My Little Spanish Place, Singapore

don’t know what took us so long to check this charming place in our neighbourhood out, but last night (i liked it so much that i decided i had to write about it pronto!) the tan family finally did tapas! and boy were our tummies glad that we finally got round to giving this cosy spanish restaurant at the row of shops after coronation plaza a try.

when we called to make a reservation that morning, we were told that they were fully booked and they could only offer us a table outside. but we went ahead with the booking anyway, and went¬†prepared in our absolute sunday best (shorts) to keep cool in the heat. turns out we were given a table inside when we arrived instead, so that was already a great start to the night ūüôā and given that its a cosy family-friendly neighbourhood set-up, we didn’t feel particularly awkward or underdressed for the meal.
this picture was taken at 630pm when we just arrived and the crowd had yet to come. by 7ish, the place was full and people without reservations were either turned away or given tables outside.

i¬†was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s interior. it is tastefully decorated and the warm yellow lighting and cushioned seats with large pillows that line the side of the wall give it a nice homely feel, like you’re dining in someone’s traditional spanish home. not sure how clearly you can see it in this picture, but they also have a range of hams on display which is quite a feast for the (greedy) eyes. the menu is simple, but with a good range of dishes to cater to a myriad of preferences:

for our party of 5 (grandma tan was over for the weekend), we ordered a few tapas to start, followed by 2 small pans of paella. the first tapas that was served to the table was the tortilla:
tortla de patata con alioli – traditional spanish egg omelette with potatoes and onions, served with homemade aioli (4 pieces for $8)

said to be the national dish of spain, this was a good rendition of the traditional spanish tortilla. the omelette was fluffy and tasty with a thin crusty layer, and the potatoes were added to the mix in just the right amount such that it wasn’t too heavy. the onions also added a nice lift to the omelette and the aioli complemented the simplicity of the egg very well. my only qualm was that it could have been served warm/hot; not sure if its meant to be served completely lukewarm (it was bordering on room temperature).

next, we were served 2 tapas on a board – the garlic prawns (left) and fried chorizo (right):
chorizo frito – fried chorizo (spicy spanish sausage) $16

the chorizo frito is what you see to the right of the serving board. we actually didn’t order this but were given it on the house when we informed the manager that this was not what we had ordered (we had ordered the clams with chorizo – see below) – A+++ for service (although the waitress who took our orders seemed a little unsure and we had to repeat things many times to her – to not much avail, it seems, given the wrong order?) didn’t find anything exceptional about this dish; the chorizo was extremely salty but good when taken with the accompanying bread (which was very good – crusty on the outside but soft inside, and served warm). considering it was fried, it was not too oily! but i don’t think i’d order this when i return unless i am a huge chorizo fan…

the garlic prawns on the other hand, are certainly worth mentioning: 
gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) –¬†fresh shrimp cooked in boiling olive oil with garlic and chilli pepper $16

i wasn’t too impressed with this dish when i first tried it, but soon came to appreciate it much more when i dipped the bread into the delicious sauce, which to me was the highlight of this tapas. the prawns themselves were fresh and cooked to perfect crunchiness. they were naturally sweet, but i felt that the sauce could have been infused into the prawns more; i felt like i was eating plain prawns with just some sauce coating it, a real waste because the sauce was very yummy! it was super fragrant and had a strong taste of prawns; best savoured¬†when bread is dipped into and completely soaked in it. we ended up asking for more bread so that we could lap up every drop of this prawn-y sauce. it was a tad on the heavy/oily side, but that didn’t bother me much.

next, we had the croquettes:
croquetas – lightly-fried jamon-stuffed creamy croquettes $10

these little croquettes were little nuggets of happiness. i was all excited when i saw their perfectly golden-brown exterior, and was not in the least bit disappointed upon biting into it. the croquette filling was smooth and creamy, and oozed out once you bit through the light and crispy ‘skin’.
the generous chunks of juicy jamon added texture and depth to the croquette and despite the cream, it remained light and made for a satisfying treat.

finally, we had the clams with chorizo:
almejas con chorizo – fresh clams cooked in a chorizo-based broth $15

we thoroughly enjoyed this dish! it was a generous serving of clams (more than enough to go around for 5), and the sauce was extremely tasty while remaining light. it was tomato-based with small bits of chorizo that added texture and bite, and went very nicely with the fresh, plump and sweet clams. this was another sauce that we happily soaked up with bread.
moving on from the tapas to even greater things, we also ordered a serving of grilled squid:
calamares rellenos a la plancha con cebolla y pimientos – whole grilled squid stuffed with caramelised onions and red peppers, grilled and drizzled with a sherry wine reduction $21
close-up of the stuffing:
i really enjoyed this dish. it was a generous serving that is great for sharing, and the squid was fresh and grilled wonderfully. it retained the right amount of crunchiness and had a perfect subtly charred taste that was balanced by the sweetness of the caramelised onions and red peppers. the sherry wine reduction was very tasty and squeezing some lemon juice to go along with it lifted its taste, and kept it light and refreshing.
finally we were on to the paellas, which take 40-45 minutes to cook because they are made to order. we were told that each small pan serves 2-3 people, but upon seeing the serving size, i think its pretty generous and can probably serve 3-4 people especially if you have other food. for the 5 of us, we decided to go with ordering 2 different small paellas rather than 1 medium-sized paella. the first paella that we ordered was the house paella:

paella de la casa – house paella $49 (small)

this was one amazing paella, definitely one of the better (if not the best) ones that i’ve tried in singapore. it was so wonderfully robust and full in its flavour, and the range of ingredients including mussels, chorizo, prawns, squid and chicken were generously added. it was extremely fragrant and the rice was cooked perfectly – not too dry and certainly not too wet. a little steeply priced, but i thought it was worth every penny for the ingredients added and its great taste; every grain of rice was infused with the fragrance of saffron and seafood. i would definitely order this the next time i visit. paella perfection in a pan! i daresay this was my favourite dish of the night.
the 2nd small pan of paella that we ordered was the squid ink paella:
arroz negara – blank ink paella $44 (small)
this paella was very different from the house paella. it was good as well, but the hot favourite at the table that night was definitely the house paella. flavoured with black squid ink broth, and served with prawns and squid and a side of aioli, this was an interesting change from the usual paella. as with the house paella, the rice was moist and every grain was flavourful. the prawns had a wonderfully lightly-charred taste and a squeeze of some lemon lifted the taste of the dish such that it was easy to polish off yum yum. the aioli was an interesting addition that was nice but not particularly necessary. if slathered on too generously, the paella was at risk of becoming too heavy.
the paellas were certainly worth the 40-45 minute wait, which didn’t feel that long anyway, because we were kept more than happy and satisfied with the steady stream of well-timed tapas. they have a small but adequate selection of yummy-sounding spanish desserts including a chocolate tart, custard cream-type thing and of course churros! we were too stuffed for dessert, but i will definitely try some on my next visit.
i’m so glad that we finally tried this place out and my only regret is that we did not do so earlier! its so difficult to find good spanish food in singapore (and it tends to be quite overpriced), but for now this seems like its going to be one of my go-to places for delicious¬†tapas and paella. they also do brunch on weekends and that is something that i really want to try too. churros for breakfast/lunch/brunch? mmmm definitely…
My Little Spanish Place
619 Bukit Timah Road

Singapore 269720

The Missing Pan, Singapore

tried this new kid on the block a few days ago, and my friends and i were very pleasantly surprised by it! adding to the small mix of eateries around the coronation plaza area, the missing pan now provides an alternative to choupinette (which is just a few doors down) and little diner (further down the road) if you’re looking for a spot to have some brunch/cafe-style food.

it looks like a pretty small space from the road looking in, but there’s actually a second storey which has a good number of tables and if you’re lucky enough, you can get one by the large window on one end which is perfect for watching the world go by below you. there’s a very casual and laidback vibe and we were one of just four tables when we visited, so it made for a really nice, bright and airy environment to have a good catch-up over good food.

they call themselves a bakery and brasserie, and serve a range of cold and hot cafe foods, along with breads and cakes displayed at the counter on the first floor. here’s the menu:20140107_12223620140107_122247

the over hangover and french toast salpicon were not available when we went ūüė¶ i was quite disappointed because i thought the french toast sounded pretty special and would have liked to see if this unusual combination of french toast toppings was a hit or miss! nevertheless, we were happy with our 3 options – the eggs benny with smoked salmon, croque madame, and the rosemary rosti stack.

service was pretty efficient and we were soon presented with these goodies:

first thing that struck us was the rather generous servings – clearly meant to be a hearty meal rather than a dainty pick-at-your-food type of cafe, which i liked!

i think my favourite of the lot/the one i was most pleasantly surprised by was the croque madame:
croque madame: gammon ham, gruyere, parmesan, egg (croque monsieur has no egg) grape foccacia – $14

i thought it didn’t look as appetising as the rest (especially in the picture above, i realise… oh dear), but it tasted so good!!! here’s what i think is a better picture, after we flipped the top half over to form one big tasty sandwich:

the gruyere was delicious and my only regret is that i didn’t have more of it more when it was freshly made and brought to the table because after a while, it was naturally less melty than before. the gammon ham was yummy (not the processed sort), and topped with an egg and parmesan, everything came together deliciously. the bread was possibly my favourite part of the croque madame – the foccacia was so wonderfully soft and fluffy, and it was (rather unusually) topped with grapes, which added a very nice mildly sweet touch to the general savouriness of the whole thing. it wasn’t as heavy as i thought it would be; i really enjoyed their rendition of the croque madame and will be back for more!

next up, the eggs benny:
62 degree eggs benedict with smoked salmon: avocado, seaweed crumbs on sourdough with in-house hollandaise – $22

they were out of avocados when we visited, so they replaced them with spinach which was alright, but i think i would have preferred avo. i can imagine the texture and bite it would have added to the mix, particularly if it was chunky avocado! also, who can resist avo on toast??? the eggs were perfectly poached as you can probably tell from the picture, but here’s another one for the yolk to have its chance to shine:
20140107_124751exactly the way i like them in all their runny yolk glory – sooo gooood!
as for the salmon, it wasn’t really raw smoked salmon which i was expecting; the salmon was actually almost like tataki, lightly seared on the outside and more raw on the inside. the hollandaise sauce was also tasty and satisfying without overdoing the creaminess. however i felt that the sourdough left much to be desired! it seemed like it wasn’t properly toasted when it arrived at our table – it wasn’t warm at all and the crusts were thus a little chewy, almost making me feel like i was eating old/stale bread. we ended up picking the toppings off the sourdough and leaving the 2 slices more or less untouched. what a difference from the amazing foccacia in the croque madame! this dish would have been good if the bread were better toasted.

last but certainly not least, we had the rosemary rosti stack:
rosemary rosti stack: bacon, sunny-side egg, tomato, grilled zucchini salad – $16

this was yummy! even the side of grilled zucchini salad was really good and was gone in no time. the zucchini was naturally sweet and perfectly grilled – charred in all the right places, giving it a nice subtle smokey taste but not a burnt taste at all. the rosti was very well done, crisp on the outside but cooked perfectly through. and though you can’t see it from the picture, it had bacon hidden within! topped with an impossibly perfect sunny side-up, we were pleasantly surprised that this dish wasn’t as heavy as we thought it would be. it wasn’t too oily, and was something different from the regular brunch options you get elsewhere.

finally, we ordered a dessert to share. these were the desserts that were available that day, besides what was listed on the menu:
20140107_133714we needed to put name to face (cake) before making a decision, so headed downstairs to check the display out:20140107_134117

settled on the brownie cheesecake which came recommended by the staff.20140107_134350

don’t think there is really any form of scale in the picture, but the slice was rather big! a generous serving, just like their mains. the cake was good, though i wouldn’t rave about it or consider it something i would return for. the combination of brownie and cheesecake was interesting, and it was surprisingly not overly sweet or heavy. taste-wise the cheesecake layer was like light japanese cheesecakes, though texture-wise it was denser than that. as for the brownie layer, it was moist and chocolate-y just as it should be. worth noting that from 2pm-5pm, they offer a free drink with every cake order!

all in all, missing pan is a nice little addition to the neighbourhood that i wouldn’t mind returning to if i’m looking for some good and reasonably-price cafe food. oh and there’s a 15% student discount, so its a great spot for students of schools in the area to have a nice meal. they also sell breads at the counter on the first floor!¬†20140107_134133

The Missing Pan

619D Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 269724