Good Chance Popiah: tracing back my roots


Mastering languages has never been my forte. My existing problems with spoken Mandarin, a tell tale sign of my skills, or lack thereof. That being said, I've always held deep regrets for not picking up dialect when I was younger, seeing that it serves as a potential tool to bridge gaps in working relationships; especially so in the kitchen environment; I am always ashamed to say that I am Hokkien but sadly I do not speak the language.

The language of food, on the other hand. That, I can comprehend.

In fact, the language like 5-dimensional travel in the Interstellar; transcends all boundaries, a simple dish evoking memories, transporting you thousands of miles away in a seconds, bonding strangers, it seems that possibilities are endless when it comes to the all important grub.

At Good Chance Popiah, an air-conditioned zi char store set in the outskirts of sleepy Tiong Bahru, traditions are kept alive with the communal practise of rolling Hokkien Popiah together at the table.

Overeasy: What's your Burgernality?


All hope is not lost in the world, and contrary to popular belief,  there is still such a thing as a free meal and you're looking right at it!

Complete the quiz over at this address , do a quick share on your facebook page and claim your free burger at Overeasy!

Momiji Japanese Restaurant: Oysters Haven


Daunting. That was the word that first popped up in my head when faced with an invite to a buffet restaurant. For starters, I do not have a small appetite. However, when greeted with such a lavish spread of pabulum, my brain feeds on the matter way quicker than my stomach; and before you know it, I'm stuffed. *sulks* 

Thankfully, I approached the Momiji Japanese Buffet with a different strategy in mind. Spurred on by the Oyster Festival (promotion available till 1 Jan); there was no beating around the bush, I went straight in for the kill.

Saveur: Second time's not quite a charm


First time round, Saveur at Far East Plaza was an absolute sweet talker. (you can read about it here). With humble beginnings from a coffee shop in Ali Baba eating house, the boys from Shatec have pushed their earnest attempts at serving up fashionably austere cuisine to a new level, with their recent opening of Saveur Art located at Ion Orchard. Since crowds were diverted to the new establishment, the partner and I took the opportunity to visit the original branch, the fears of being greeted by obscene queues significantly lowered.

Shabu Shabu Ramen by Ramen Champion: Swish Swish


Under the same roof of Ramen Champion Dining comes Shabu Shabu Ramen, targeted at ramen lovers whose cravings can't be satisfied with just one bowl of ramen. Think about it, what's better than indulging in an ambrosial spread of shabu shabu ingredients with bowlfuls of aromatic flavoursome soup on a rainy day (which happen more often than I like it in December)? To top off the experience, a tray of tantalising home-made ramen noodles accompanies the feast instead of the conventional white rice. 

Skyve Wine Bistro & Bar: Hidden Gem


Skyve wine bistro & bar was my destination choice for dinner after being arrowed the mammoth task of choosing a venue for our long awaited family gathering. With the rather lacklustre District 10 taking tenancy of the same spot before Skyve, I made the mental preparation to face the mediocrity of the food I was about to dig into, as if in sync with the mundane and somewhat accusational talk from the parents.  

Skyve Wine Bar & Bistro sports a rather cliched look, low sofa seats strewed across the dimly lit room highlighted by incandescent spot lights that puncture the cold muted air. Pardon my antagonism, but conversations with the apprehensive mother just leaves me in shambles.

Platypus Lobster Shack: Weak in the knees


Some nights I dream about this.

The thoraic warmth of the creamy homemade mayonnaise mixed in with the succulent chunks of butter poached lobsters; the smell of grilled, slightly charred bread filling my nostrils. This makes for such a umbrian treat.

Repeated visits, and I've always called for the same item. Like a blindfolded mission evoked by memory sensory pleasures. Not tonight, not this night cause when 5 and a 1/2 unite , a larger congregation of seafood delights can come together. 

Foodology Fresh: That's why eating greens are so hard


I've always had a penchant for vegetables, noming my way through my plate of greens like a meek cow during meal times. No signs of rebellion whatsoever. I would often stare with awkward befuddlement whenever another kid would shove away his vegetables, nudging it to the side of the plate and then subsequently throwing a fit when circumstances gets to forceful. 'Why?' Don't they see its' allure?

Growing up, and gaining access to the covers of the vegetable dictionary; I embraced my edible greens with a tighter affection. My stint in Australia reinforcing our relationship with love gifts in the forms of ruby red beetroot, bitter endives and hybrid broccoli. It  is a libation  that brings back many happy memories - a time where getting your hands on a superb salad at any deli or even making your own at a fraction of the cost was as easy as pie. The salad maker driven by a purpose to to do as little as possible to highlight the vitality of the greens. I've since then feasted on countless salads, ranging from those of more innovative nature, incorporating deep fried quinoa; to the classics like caesar salads with a glorious homemade anchovy dressing that throws it into a class of its own. 

Cocotte: Snail-paced Rustic French in Little India

I was greeted with the puffy-faced, glossy eyed stare of a man who had just spent the last 5 minutes of his time trapped in a bathroom, the tussle for life taking a toil on his ruptured oesophagus. The culprit to his misery, a measly fish bone that had somehow weaselled its way into his food and lodged itself deep in there. I looked on helplessly and dragged my fork through the mustard sauce, pausing to pass a comment in a bid to shed some calming effect. (Don't judge, I eat when I'm stressed *sheepish grin*). 

After chewing on a slippery banana (offered so kindly by the worrisome staff) and several gulps of water later, the worse had come to pass and my partner resumed eating at a frenetic pace, an action spurred on by the tardiness of the food. Our orders of seabass and roast pork collar taking a solid 45 minutes after ordering to arrive at the table. Was it worth the wait you might ask?

Pie Face: Australian pie chain now on our local shores


The mention of Australian Pie Face rings back memories of my days well spent in Sydney. Of early morning walks to the Townhall subway station, the coffee aroma adrift from the machines already hard at work providing black elixir to commuters at this underground booth; I resist the urge to get a pie, the lingering smell of butter permeating my nostrils. Despite my somewhat extended stay in Sydney, I've never found a reason to patronise the chain mainly because of it's domineering existence in the market, almost akin to bread-talk in Singaporean context; so that makes me kind of a snob doesn't it?, but why have pie face's pies when you can get your hands on Bourke Street Bakery's lamb and harissa pie? I digress. Forgive me.

Spurred on by the very fact that pies aren't part of our culture here means that there is room for its interjection into our foodscape, and hence Pie Face's first foray into Asia is definitely timely. Unveiling its first store in 313@somerset, the chain sets out to introduce the locals to the humble pie (excuse my punt). Helmed by Mr Francois Galand, French born and trained chef, the kitchen team sets out to produce gourmet pies from scratch, using the traditional French puff pastry technique in a  bid to produce flaky pie crusts to compliment the hearty fillings.  

As I was one of the lucky ones privileged enough to sample Pie Face's offerings during the media launch.. these are some of my visual and taste observations...

Fun fact: did you know that the different facial expressions aren't at all random? They are used as means for the staff to differentiate the pie fillings hidden within. The 'o' for Thai chicken curry, 'v' for the vegetarian Tandoori, 'p' for the chicken and peppercorn as well as 'S' for the Chunky steak pie... What a brilliant idea!

After a taste test, I had my strict favourites. The Chicken and Mushroom Pie ($4.90 for the large, $3.00 for the mini) was a comforting creamy mixture of tender chicken breast, mushrooms and garlic. Almost like the old school chicken ala king stuffed in a golden pouch. Not to be missed is the Thai Chicken Curry Pie ($4.90 for large, $3.00 for mini), an Asian inspired pie which carries the heady aroma of coconut milk. Despite the Chunky Steak Pie ($5.20) 's claim to be the crown jewel in Pie Face's array, this pie had some major shortfalls especially dealing with the tenderness of the beef chunks that turned out a bit stringy from the braising process. 

On a separate note, Pie Face does serve up some pretty good coffee, with a solid management of frothing technique sans the fancy latte artwork. But if you're going to order a takeaway, it doesn't really matter either way. Prices for coffee start from $4.00.

And if in the case you aren't a big pie fan, fret not, the chain does offer other alternatives to curb the munchies.  The Almond stick and Cheese stick ($1.90 each) are pulse quickening treats that blend the likes of crispy golden puff pastry with a mish-mash of sweet and savoury fillings, almond creme in the former and a gooey cheese in the latter. Yes, admittedly these two can cause quite an oil slick in the bags, but despite the artery clogging implications behind them, it disappears all too quickly.

There are also 8 Sweet Pies ($3.30 each), with flavors ranging from butterscotch to apple crumble to my all time favourite pecan pie! These little monsters seek to entice the youngsters with their colourful hues, however, take heed that the sugar content can be a tad preposterous; so unless you have a high tolerance for sweets, avoid these. 

Pie Face


Bugis Village
249 Victoria Street

Operating Hours:
10am - 10pm

Pantler: A Promise-land of Honey and Sweets


Peering down the grey minimalistic hallways of the shop house, my heart was gripped by eager anticipation to dive straight into the rows of sweet desserts. Here at Pantler, breads and pastries rule the land, there's no gimmick to the concept here, and hence decor is understandably stark. 

For the neat freaks, Pantler's setup is the hinterland of your fantasies, entremets placed fastidiously on clinical silver trays lined up with tangential precision to its neighbours. Here, attention to detail has spilled over from Japanese foreshores, manifesting itself in exquisite looking cakes and tarts that makes for drool worthy eye candy. 

Two separate visits later, I was sold. This is what Singapore's commercial district is in dire need of. A boutique purveyor of quality patisserie and boulangerie items in a simple yet classy environment. Perfect for mid-afternoon tea breaks or client meetings, if you may.

Founded by Baker Matthias Phua and partner, Head Chef Tomoharu Morita whose credentials span from highly acclaimed Grand Hyatt Tokyo to Joel Robuchon Singapore. The two have dedicated their passion and skills to creating products that are authentic and beautiful, paying special attention to produce, Beurre d'Isigny French butter and Japanese flour milled by Nishio Milling from Aichi Prefecture. This high quality ingredients takes precedence in the boulangerie items, the croissant ($3), crispy on the outside with light and fluffy innards. Unfortantately Singapore's humidity has dealt it a bad card and the exterior suffered a little, texturally. Nothing that a little warming up in the oven won't solve.

The Mango Passion ($5.80) and Creme Caramel ($5.80) comes highly recommended. Diving into the former will lend your mind a chimera of narratives; the tantalising creaminess of the mango flavoured panna cotta spiked by a slight tang from the passion fruit coulis pooled over the top. The 'jiggly-ness' of the pudding a testament to the Chef's profound pastry knowledge and skills. Touted to be Matthias's dessert of choice, I was eager to get a glimpse of what he saw in this humble offering. Lo and behold, this was frickin' magic in the mouth; I lapped it up greedily. What this traditional dessert has on the other versions is the caramel sauce that had been pushed to the edge of caramelization without burning. That's talent right there.

Other offerings that I've since tried are the signature Yatsura ($8.50) - hazelnut dacquoise, dark chocolate mousse and hazelnut feuilletine. Almost like the makings of a ferrero rocher in a more sophisticated form. The Pantler roll cake ($4.80) failed to leave an impression, and I took a back seat on the Pantler Cheesecake ($6.80) that was a tad too crumbly and dry for my liking.

The best desserts causes a clamour, sharing them provokes tension. The question of who's settling the last bite clearly defining likes and dislikes within the gang. My choice amongst the spread, the Pithivier ($7.50), a dessert that I've not had since making my own in pastry school a couple of years back. This traditional round French puff pastry circle filled with almond frangipane brought back flashbacks of the days of struggles with handmade puff pastry armed with only a rolling pin. Delicious in every right, the pastry was undeniably fresh and flaky whilst the almond filling fragrant, almost like eating a 100% marzipan. Don't judge.

The Ricotta Cheese Tart ($8.50) is another formidable dessert with soft and tangy innards backed by a crisp short crust pastry. Perfect for those who like something a little lighter.

Then there's the much talked about Choux Creme ($5.50). Details elevate this humble dessert such as the crisp nougatine topping that caps the choux pastry just before entering the oven;  and the velvety smooth vanilla bean flecked pastry cream filling. My only wish would be a better cook on the puffs that would render the innards a little drier and crisper.

Coffee at Pantler is from Dutch Colony, so fans of the blend can now get your fix in the city!

Judicious with butter, sugar and everything nice, Pantler is set to steal the hearts and minds of dessert lovers and cafe go-ers alike. Be sure to make your rounds quick before the news gets out!

198 Telok Ayer Street
t: 6221 6223

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8 30am - 8 30pm
Sat: 10 30 am - 5 30pm

Online Order available here

Atmosphere Bistro.Bar : The watering hole


Have my eyes betrayed me? A quizzical look hung out on my face as the snow mountain pile of Kirin Frozen beer ($13) started rapidly on its descent. My first 'gulp'got me a mouthful of flavourless foam; endearingly referred to as beer slushie by Kirin's patented technology. I would advise you give this a pass. Since you've already made your way to the watering hole, get your hands on the Heinkein or Erdiner white draft beers instead; word has it that there's a promotion ongoing now for 3 pints at just $30. 

The Atmosphere Bistro & Bar is a brand new establishment that has just opened its doors to the public on October 6. Located at Parkland Greens, a sprawling landscape of green along East Coast Park just right across from Parkway Parade. With the booming amount of space at the park, this creates an entirely family oriented environment where children can partake in outdoor activities whilst parents lounge in the cooler interiors of the restaurant, enjoying a cold pint or two. Technically, the location advantages already makes the Atmosphere a winning concept; but how does food fare?

From the extensive menu of pub bistro favourites, we chose two starters to tease our taste buds. The Spam Fries ($7.80) was a simple snack but given a little snap, crackle and pop from the kaffir mayo served on the side. Deliciously rich and salty, this would make the perfect snack for the young ones. Not so outstanding was the Escargot ($10.80) which regurgitated funky chewy nodules swimming in a bland garlic butter and covered with melted cheese. Hear me out, cheese doesn't make everything better. Skip this and give their truffle fries a shot instead.

The Baby Back Ribs ($19.80) lacked conviction: the citrus BBQ sauce bearing a strange resemblance to satay sauce and the meat an uncanny textural likeness to the local snack, (not exactly desirable in the case). With a little more time invested, the dish could have fared a whole lot better.

For the grazers, there is the Caesar Salad ($6.80). a creamy confetti of bacon bits, stodgy croutons and grated Parmesan over an avalanche of bottled caesar dressing. Overly sweet and immensely overdressed for such a humble setting, this is one salad on the menu to skim past. Let me lament about the rather poor renditions of Caesar salads I've delivered to my system lately; what happened to the handmade herbed croutons and dressings with that piquant scent of anchovies recognised in the aftermath? 

Jacked up on cheese, the Squid Ink Pizza ($20.80) anticipates the roaring appetites of the young and the drunk. Atmosphere puts an innovative spin on the usual classics with such outrageous outputs; squid rings, sliced garlic, onion, squid ink tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese are stacked on with Pythagorean precision. The result grows on you after its slightly peculiar first impression. You might want to pry away the limp dough base and eat the meltingly moist interior spiked with a little dabble of Tabasco sauce.

Instagram darling, Atmosphere Burger ($19.80) left more oohs and aahs on the photographer instinct than on the palate. The monstrous triple stack of pork, turkey and chicken patties, over processed and struggling to reconcile with each other. If you're bought into the lore of this skyscraper-esqe burger, save your pretty penny for a trip to Suprette instead.

Desserts were a safe bet with assorted cakes, obviously outsourced with a good palate in tact. The Red velvet ($5.80) and Rainbow Cake ($5.80) were both moist and spongy in all the right places, the former edging out the multi-coloured unicorn with its charismatic cream cheese frosting.

If you're feeling a little fancier, order the Atmosphere Molten Lava Cake ($11.80), watch in glee as warm chocolate pours out from the molten core. A decadent treat for the discerning diners who delight in the alchemy of gooey chocolate with the blissful sigh of cold vanilla ice cream.

For all its flaws, the Atmosphere Bar.Bistro still packs promise, and with the throngs of people that trawl the parks on weekday nights as well as the weekends serving as potential customers; the establishment sits on a pot of gold. Only if the food is improved of course.

Fundamentally Flawed dined as a guest of Atmosphere Bistro. Major thanks to Cynthia of DFW Creative Private Limited for the invite and her gracious hosting.

The Atmosphere Bar and Bistro
920 East Coast Parkway #01-25/26/27

Opening Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 5pm -12am
Fri: 5pm - 1am
Sat: 10am - 2am
Sun and PH: 10am - 1am

Roosevelt's Diner & Bar: Revisited


In Singapore's ever-changing culinary landscape, I rarely find myself making revisits to a single establishment much. Yet Roosevelt's with its strong showing has always won my biased favours... (Check out my first review). A stalwart among the few southern type American cuisine specialists in Singapore, this humble cafe/restaurant joint is dedicated to producing the finest burgers, southern fried chicken and baby back ribs that ever paraded the local scene. And without much ado, I announce my strong approval on this very successful movement.

Last weekend, the girlfriend and I headed in to satisfy my cravings. We eased into the meal with the big guns. The Southern Fried Chicken ($18) and the BBQ Baby Back ribs ($22) both delivered its promised punch, amplified by a liberal use of spice and sound cooking techniques. The chicken tanned and crispy, goes beyond the usual fried chicken with its' tight crumb that adheres with fond attachment to the succulent flesh. The triple mash of potato, pumpkin and sweet potato refusing to play second fiddle to the elephant on the dish, left me smitten and in denial of my diet attempts. The baby back ribs was a hearty course, fall-of-the-bone ribs slathered in the all important barbecue sauce and enlivened by a small mound of roasted corn salsa. This plump rack was good for sharing and though I admit to being quite cynical about this dish before it's arrival, I was more than happy diner at the end of the meal, expounding its ambrosial notes to all.

Of course, a trip to Roosevelt's wouldn't be complete without their signature waffle. Salted caramel waffles with crushed candied cashew nuts ($12) was our choice, and I dare say, a mighty fine one too. After all the savouries, we craved something sweet, and the waffle with its' crusty squares waiting to be smeared with ice cream and dredged in salted caramel sauce filled the void in our tummies with immediate gratification. The clever use of crushed candied cashews, a breathe of fresh air departing from the mainstream hazelnut and chocolate combinations. Definitely a dish perfect for the final flourish.

Roosevelt's Diner & Bar
311 New Bridge Road
#01-02 Dorsett Residences
t: +65 6538 3518

Grand Mandarin: I'm so fancy


Grand Mandarin, located in a inconspicuous building just off Outram Park MRT (inside joke: take heed that this IS in fact the nearest mrt station to the restaurant) houses a somewhat dated, dark and sophisticated dining room serving elaborate Chinese dishes that appeal the mid-tier diners and up. If you're got money to splurge and want to avoid the usual suspects hailing from large culinary groups, then Grand Mandarin would be a good pick of an underdog.

Take for example the empura fish that swims with such a lavish aura around it, as if it has come to self-awareness of it's prized existence from watching itself on television re-runs. The price on its' head escalating above the mortal thousands. I imagine the creamy sweetness of its flesh in my mouth and swiftly shut it down. It's not something worth dreaming about...

For the common folk, like me, Grand Mandarin does offer a wide range of impeccable Cantonese cuisine ranging from the customary dim sum to the homely doubled boiled soups and finally to the more extravagant roast duck. And just like so many new restaurants, the Grand Mandarin isn't strong across the board; for starters, service can be lackadaisical and not exactly polished. Requests for tea top-ups were forgotten and dirty plates not cleared with structured procession. The appetizers got the ball rolling with a delectable gleaming Deep Fried Prawn coated with creme lemon sauce ($32++ per order),  earning points for its unparalleled flavor combination. The prawn still retaining a nice bite, melded well with the welcome rays of sunshine derived from the lemon sauce. The rest of the items, I was disagreeable with there after. Famous as it is, the Honey Glazed Barbecued Pork Loin ($15++ per order) with its pudgy rings of uncaramelized sugar on its exterior went down with a fight, the crunch exposing a figurative circle of refined white sugar that was slow to disintegrate compared to the pork loin that was melt-in-your-mouth tender - an addition that I found added unnecessary heft and calories to the dish. The Crispy Soft Shell Crab coated with Chicken Floss and Curry Leaves ($18++ per order) was a tad too sweet for my liking, the inclusion of curry leaves not providing any flavor profile assistance to the dish.

The Double-boiled chicken soup with cordycep flower ($9++ per person) was pedestrian with a general lack of seasoning. Though, I did enjoy the cordycep flowers which provided a crisp and chewy factor.

Another dish that didn't knock my socks off was the Steamed Silver Cod with pink ginger topping in bonito sauce ($22++ per person). Yes, the cod was supple and fresh, but the random jolts of piquant cured ginger layered like a mossy green carpet on a polished parquet floor was again haphazard and excessive. The bonito sauce working wonders to revive the umami of the rather neutral tasting steamed cod. I would suggest making a beeline for the baked version with lemongrass infusion sauce instead.

Tofu with crabmeat and egg white in carrot broth ($24++ per order) caused many quizzical looks round the table as the use of firm tofu failed to accentuate the luscious qualities of the crabmeat and eggwhite mixture. 

A quintessential dish at every Cantonese food fest would be the roasted duck. Here at the Grand Mandarin, things are kicked up a notch with their Roasted Duck with Perigord Truffle ($28++ per order). At the very mention of truffle, I was afraid of the assault on the taste buds, however, contrary to that, my first bite had me on a wild goose chase for the lingering note of truffle. None. Where is it? I felt cheated.

The last dish on the tasting menu was a Stir fried Crystal Vermicelli with Pork Collar in X.O. chili sauce ($22++ per order), an adventurous carb offering with short plump strands of vermicelli tossed in a divine sauce forming the base of a bejeweled bowl of ingredients. The pork collar came in the form of decadent silvers of pearlescent fatty meat perfectly cooked and curled into submission. I revelled in the successful execution of the dish. 

Liu Sha Baos were our next order of business. Fluffy balls encapsulating a torrent of sickly sweet salted egg yolk custard that flows out without much persuasion. Still, Mouth Restaurant's version has stolen my heart.

A more worldly dessert rounds up the meal. The Refreshing Green Apple Jelly with Lime Sorbet ($8 per serve) with it's tangy notes and cold construction had its desired felicitous effects and I greedily slurped up the stray bits of aloe vera earnestly. Definitely a humble but sensuous way to end the meal.
Notably, Grand Mandarin prides itself on being one the few solo establishments devoid of links to the big leagues. And serving such cuisine in Singapore, it certainly makes it a dime in a dozen. That being said, food standards with its price relativity leave much to be desired from this restaurant and unless improvements be made to befit the slightly heftier pricing, clients are likely to pack up and go after a one time experience.

Grand Mandarin
325 New Bridge Road
#01/02-00 S(088760)
t: 6222 3355

P.S. for those of you who would like to get a chance to win The Entertainer App. Please visit here to participate in my {GIVEAWAY}!