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.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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):
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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: 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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’.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Advertisements

My Cosy Corner, Singapore

my cosy corner has been occupying a cosy corner (sorry, i just had to… bahaha)¬†on the second floor of coronation plaza for as long as i can remember. its certainly not the newest/snazziest/hippest/trendiest eatery out there, but it is definitely an all-time favourite of mine (and many residents in the area), and is worth sharing about!

they are a small family-run (i’m assuming) set-up that sells a range of affordable one-dish meals including japanese fare like udon and katsu rice, but what they are really¬†famous for are their¬†yummy local dishes ie¬†mee siam, mee rebus, popiah, kueh pie tee etc. there is limited seating space within the shop so its always quite full no matter what time of the day you visit;¬†there are always customers popping in for¬†a quick bite or taking away food!
20140626_131546

when i’m there, my order is standard – a serving of mee siam, accompanied by their super popular popiah!¬†20140626_132853
was also feelin’ a chendol (it was yummy) to beat the heat that day
the food at cosy corner never ever disappoints. it is one of my all-time favourite places to have a bowl of mee siam; i know i will¬†always leave happy. the secret to its smashing success is definitely in its gravy – not too thick or too thin, very very tasty and far from being diluted. squeeze some lime into it¬†before eating, and it really packs a super satisfying punch! the tau pok is also worth mentioning – fried to ultra crispy perfection while remaining soft and airy within. the tow gay is also fresh and well-cooked, not at all overdone to the point of being soggy as it tends to be at many places. my only qualm is that they seriously overcharge for the addition of 2 measly prawns to the dish – if i’m not wrong, they charge an additional $1 for just 2 prawns! i hadn’t realised this but now that i’ve taken note, i might just go with the mee siam without prawns the next time round. admittedly though, the prawns do add more texture to the dish. and despite the fact that mee siam is probably available more cheaply at any regular hawker stall, i keep coming back for¬†more. #addictive!

look around cosy corner while you’re there and you’ll notice that some people order mee rebus, some mee siam, some laksa, and others even japanese (always a ?!?!?! kind-of-moment for me). but what almost every table will have a serving of is their famous popiah!¬†20140626_133011
popiah – $2.20 per roll
popiah aficionados will know this – cosy corner’s popiah consistently appears in lists of the best popiah in singapore, and i wholeheartedly agree that it is certainly a worthy contender! the rolls are freshly made-to-order and you can watch the aunty behind the corner at work as she gets¬†rollin’. let’s start with the skin – it is thin and moist and is wrapped around the filling so skillfully that nothing ever falls out when you eat it/when it is cut. the filling is added generously and is extremely juicy and tasty in a very nice homecooked and not msg-laden kind of way. the chilli sauce (homemade) adds a great spiciness and my favourite part of these decadent rolls is probably the crispy fried garlic bits that are well-mixed and hidden in the glorious turnip filling that also contains beansprouts, cucumber and egg.20140626_133339once again, though pricey, i never stay away from their popiah for long. forever a favourite!

definitely pop by if you’re in the vicinity and are looking for a quick bite in a no-frills fuss-free eatery. it might just leave you constantly looking for reasons to return to coronation plaza to have more of their yummy homemade comfort food! (there’s a ntuc there so grocery shopping can always be the reason for regular visits :P)

My Cosy Corner
587 Bukit Timah Road #02-02
Coronation Shopping Plaza
Singapore 269707
20140626_131640

The Living Cafe, Singapore

i cannot believe how long it took me to discover this hidden gem located right in my hood!!! located at the row of shops along bukit timah road just before you turn left onto 6th avenue is the lovely living cafe that serves an exciting range of really healthy food. i used to think it was just a healthy eating/organic food shop but my sister discovered that it was also a cafe a while back, and recommended that i check it out. 20140623_143610

i love how bright, open, clean and tastefully decorated it is. there is ample seating space in the cafe on the first floor, and a little loft towards the back of the shop where they have a shop selling healthy foods. they pride themselves on serving a range of not just raw and vegan foods but also regular foods which are done using quality ingredients and cooked healthily. you might be wondering what on earth raw food is and how one eats food raw Рi took this excerpt from their website:
“Raw food generally refers to a vegan diet that goes beyond just steering clear of animal products. There‚Äôs no cooking in the traditional sense (in that nothing is heated above approximately 118 degrees Fahrenheit), and ingredients are not chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized, genetically modified, hybridized, or otherwise compromised. The basic premise behind a raw food diet is that cooking and processing foods generally decreases their digestibility and vitamin and mineral density, as well as their overall health-promoting qualities.”
(more info about raw food can be found here!)

here is their lunch menu (they have a separate dinner menu, and a brunch menu on weekends):20140623_143442

besides food, their menu also features a range of freshly-squeezed juices and freshly-made smoothies. all of them sound delicious and the best part is that they are not only completely guilt-free, but also very good for you!
20140623_143452

for those who would rather stick to water (in order to save some space for dessert ;)), you can help yourself to some reverse osmosis water:20140623_143652
not sure if it was all in my mind but i really thought the water tasted better than regular water! this might sound quite silly because it is just water after all, but i swear it tasted more pure and refreshing than tap water/regular ice water! its what i imagine water drunk straight out from a bubbling stream to taste like.

given that it isn’t often that you come across places serving raw food in singapore (hawker food galore!!!), i decided that i had to pick something raw from the menu:
20140623_144937
raw “cheese” burger: onions/beet/carrot/tomato/sprouts/raw “cheese” sauce/raw pattie (dehydrated – nuts/seeds/oats/onions/flaxseed)/guacamole – $18
i absolutely loved this!!! one of the responses i got to posting a picture of this on instagram was a correction of my caption of “raw “cheese” burger” to “raw “cheese” “burger”” which i was rather amused by.¬†healthiest “burger” ever? the carrots, beet, onion and alfafa came together wonderfully to make this yummy crunchy salad that was moist despite not being doused in dressing. the moisture must have come from the natural juiciness of the fresh veggies i think, because the “cheese” sauce was mostly contained to the top of the pattie, and was added in far from copious amounts at all. having the pile of veggies with the pattie was the best thing ever – the sauce tied everything together, and i enjoyed every bit of that pattie. the nuts, seeds and oats created a really nice bite and even though it was dehydrated, it still retained sufficient moisture to not be too dry. it reminded me a little of falafel (gotta love falafel) in pattie form, but denser and with more bite.

deconstructed so you get a better look of the pattie:20140623_145702despite it being completely veggie, it was actually rather filling (but not overly so) and left me feeling really satisfied. not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but it was a really huge “burger” and was piled very generously with super fresh greens. i liked it so much that i have a feeling i’ll find it difficult to order something different when i return to the living cafe…

my sister opted for the vegan tofu burger:20140623_145015vegan tofu burger with wedges and coleslaw: sesame crusted tofu bun, eggplant, mushrooms, raw dijon mustard dressing – $15
all their homemade burgers come with a serving of sweet potato wedges and coleslaw. though not raw and not entirely vegan (there are fish & meat options), they are prepared in as healthy a way as possible with the best possible ingredients. the sweet potato wedges were baked and lightly flavoured with some kind of herbs; they were of a great texture (just the right amount of bite) and the natural sweetness of the potato really shone through. as for the coleslaw, it was light, fresh and very refreshing – none of that commercial stuff drowning in mayo. i personally really liked the sesame-crusted tofu bun because i love everything tofu and everything sesame; this was right up my alley and such a cute idea to substitute bread with! the mushrooms and onions were tasty and added flavour to the tofu; the sister was really happy with her choice too.

the aftermath:20140623_151051

our plates were wiped clean (spick and span!!!) but the best part about eating such foods is that you never feel too stuffed or uncomfortably full even though you’ve had a filling and satisfying meal. perfect for checking out their array of raw desserts:
20140623_143110the only thing better than having dessert is having dessert that is healthy yet yummy. these desserts are really amazing, considering that they are raw!!! the living cafe has an array for you to pick from, ranging from truffles to cookies to cheesecakes to chocolate-mint slices to chocolate ganache cakes.

we opted for the lemon cranberry tart which the counter staff recommended:20140623_151525
lemon cranberry tart – $8.90
though quite steeply-priced at $8.90, my sister and i both agreed that this was totally worth it. it was so enjoyable that i’d have this over a regular (non-raw) lemon tart any day!!! the lemon filling was of just the right tartness and the consistency was dense yet ¬†not too heavy. the cranberries and pistachio bits that topped it added texture to the tart, as did the crust, which was probably my favourite part! after taking a bite of the crust, i decided a close-up shot of it needed to be taken so it could be appreciated in its full glory:20140623_151640just look at that amazing crust – if my taste buds didn’t fail me, it contained fig, pistachio, cranberries, dates, other nuts? so so so good. it was moist and dense but still provided sufficient bite that a tart base requires. it was also naturally sweet which balanced the sourness of the lemon filling. this is another thing¬†i’d find hard to resist ordering the next time i return!

seriously, eating clean has never been so appealing! i left the living cafe feeling really satisfied and happy after having such healthy yet yummy food. given the quality of what you’re eating, i also feel that the prices are very reasonable; everything stated in the menu is nett so you pay exactly what you see with no hidden costs. another plus point is that its open every day of the week!

as i paid at the cashier, the (very friendly) staff member asked if i was “eating healthy” and my response was “not really, but this makes it a whole lot easier!”. i’ll definitely be back here when i’m in need of a detox; in fact, i think i will be back even if i’m not!

The Living Cafe and Deli
779 Bukit Timah Rd
Singapore 269758
20140623_14301720140623_143348

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.
20140107_122052

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:
20140107_124634

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:
20140107_124137
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:
20140107_124942

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:
20140107_123946
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:
20140107_124324
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