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Categories : Sichuan | Hotel | Vegetarian | Dim Sum | Seafood

To celebrate one of my bestie's birthday, I brought her to a fancy Szechuan restaurant sitting 35 levels above ground at Mandarin Orchard Hotel. I took the lift from the Orchard Wing through the Mandarin Gallery to level 35.

 
I was greeted with a warm decor and posh surroundings.

 

 

 

 

 

 
I exceptionally loved the restaurant for the high ceilings and pretty lights. High ceilings added a taste of grandness to the place and I found myself getting comfortable quickly.

 
An introduction of the restaurant:

Akasaka Szechwan Restaurant, or Shisen Hanten as it is popularly known in Japan, was started in 1958 by the late Chen Kenmin who is regarded as Japan’s “Father of Szechwan Cuisine.”Born in the Szechwan province of China, Chen Kenmin perfected his craft in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before settling in Yokohama, Japan. Capitalising on his expertise in Szechwan cuisine, he established Shisen Hanten with the vision of “making customers truly appreciate Szechwan food through all the five senses.” He passed down his legacy to his eldest son, Chen Kenichi, who himself earned wide acclaim as one of Japan’s most celebrated iron chefs.

Chen Kenichi then passed down his love for the Szechuan cuisine to his son, Chen Kentaro. Shisen Hanten at Mandarin Orchard Hotel Singapore is the chain's debut outside of Japan.
Osmanthus pipa duck 琵琶鸭 (Half, $34)

 
To have this dish, pre-ordering at least a day before your visit is required as they need time to prepare the duck. My friend was allergic to nuts and seafood, so she couldn't take the sauce as it contained traces of peanut powder in it.

Even without dipping the duck in the sauce, the duck was good enough to eat on its own. It had a special flavour through marination and was roasted to perfection. Even better, it was 98% boneless, so there's no need to worry about spitting out bones.

 
Those who can eat the sauce should totally have it together with the duck. It was a wonderful combination when dipped into the sauce and gave it an overall deliciously unique flavour. This dish is highly recomended!

Hot & Sour Soup 酸辣湯 (Small, $10)

 
The Hot & Sour soup is also different from the original Szechuan type Hot & Sour soup as the spiciness and sourness was well balanced but not overpowering, unlike the original version of the dish. The soup was well done, with simple ingredients (mushrooms, meat, finely sliced beancurd) infused perfectly into the gooey broth.

 
Stewed fish fillet in super-hot Szechwan pepper sauce 水煮魚 (Small, $26)

 
If you've seen the original version of this Szechuan dish, you would probably be worried to order this dish. Would it be dripping with chilli oil? Spicy to no end?

Thank God, no.

I also asked them to not have it too spicy, and while retaining the flavour of the dish, they have managed to do this dish well without veering off the taste of the dish totally. I was bracing myself for an upset tummy after this (cos of the sheer spiciness of the original dish that I tried before), but fortunately, it wasn't that spicy and the peppery broth was still a pleasure to slurp. I was quite shocked that the dish came with all the red chilli peppers on top, but thank goodness it turned out quite fine.

 
The fish was nicely done and it was really tender and smooth.

 
Sautéed chilli pepper and chicken 辣子雞 (Small, $22)

 
This chilli pepper chicken is one of their most recommended dishes - at least by their wait staff. They weren't wrong. The dish was really nice and a surprising amount of crisp has made the texture of this dish very interesting!

 
Trio of egg poached with seasonal vegetable 金銀蛋滚时蔬 (Small, $20)

 
One of my favourite Chinese dishes. While it is nothing to rave about here, but I do like the broth of this dish and the vegetables were lovely too!

 
Chen’s original spicy soup noodle 担担麺 (Small, $12)

 
I have nothing to say about this dish other than to stick up both my thumbs. The texture of the noodles were really well done and bouncy.

 
The soup was not very spicy, just mildly, and it went very well together with the noodles. I recommend this dish to anyone who visits this restaurant.

 
Mango Pudding 芒果布丁 ($8)

 
I do not usually order Mango puddings in Chinese restaurants. But I'm glad I did, at this one. The pudding was really creamy and fresh. It was also worth it as you will find huge slices of mango in it. Topped with a little whipped cream and a wolfberry, it was a lovely and light dessert to end the meal with.

 
Hokkaido Green Tea Ice Cream 绿茶味北海道雪糕 ($8)

 
There are 3 flavours in total for this dessert, but I went with the Green Tea one. 2 others include Sea salt and Vanilla, but I didn't order that as the wait staff had recommended the green tea one. It was a good recommendation because the ice-cream was really creamy and tasty. It also came with some dried fruits, like raisins.

 
Overall, the meal was really good and satisfying. I would say that it was really worth the spend and here, I wish highlight the wait staffs' service, which really created a wonderful dining experience for us. Thanks to Doris, Danny and Yu Ting who had helped make the entire dining experience perfect.

When I just casually mentioned that it was my friend's birthday, they surprised us with a complimentary slice of chocolate birthday cake during dessert time as well! My friend was really happy and we enjoyed our time here!

 

 

 
Menus can be viewed on their website and fans can follow them on their facebook for latest updates of their new creations.

Average spending per pax: $70 - $90

Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro 四川饭店

Location: Orchard Wing Level 35, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867

Ratings: 8 / 10
 
Date of Visit: Dec 26, 2014 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 5  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : Cantonese/Hong Kong | Chinese | Restaurant | Dim Sum | Zi Char

Over last weekend, during my staycation at the nearby Marina Mandarin Hotel, I chanced upon a Cantonese restaurant within Marina Square mall. Opened on Valentine's Day this year, its first branch began in Aperia Mall, selling only dim sum items. A few months later in September, the second second branch within Marina Square mall was opened, serving not only Dim Sum, but also other Cantonese fare.

 
With an experienced kitchen crew spearheaded by Executive Chef Leong (who previously came from a Shang Palace background), they target to preserve traditional Cantonese flavours, serving a wide range of Cantonese dishes, such as 'Roast Peking Duck, Pan Fried “Kurobuta” Pork Chop with Honey Sauce, Braised Homemade Bean curd with Bamboo Charcoal Powder, Braised Pork belly in Special Sauce, Deep Fried Prawn with Pumpkin creamy Sauce, Double Boiled Fish Maw in Superior Shark’s bone soup and many more'.

 
Being a Cantonese girl myself and a lover of Cantonese food, I was very excited to dig into their dishes upon hearing about it.

Did you know?

Visitors to their restaurant can also get a free Marina Square parking coupon from Dragon Bowl when they dine in the restaurant. That's awesome!

LET'S EAT!
We took up their $78++ current promotion, which includes their signature Roasted Peking Duck, Roast Duck Bone Soup and Braised Duck E-Fu Noodle.

This promotion serves up a 6-people portion. But as there were only 4 of us, we took half of the promotion, paying only about $39++, and also added on some ala-carte dishes to share.

 

 
Needless to say, this promotion of theirs is really worth it, because their usual price for the Peking Duck costs about $22 for half, and $40 for whole.

 
And they also did not waste any ounce of the duck meat, as the remaining duck was used to make the Roast duck bone soup (with preserved vegetables) and the Braised Duck E-fu Noodles, both are dishes that you will not be able to order off the ala carte menu. And even these non-menu items, tasted awesome.

 

 
Going back to the Roasted Duck, I can understand why it is their signature dish. In all ways, they did this dish right. The duck meat is tender and mostly lean, the duck skin is crisp and melts in your mouth.

 
Even the sweet sauce that you lather within the crepe before wrapping the duck in, is tasty and not overly sweet. (Pardon my tummy growling now while I'm typing this, recapping what I ate there is simply not easy.)

 

 
Under the ala-carte menu, we ordered their highly recommended Stir-Fried Tenderloin Beef Cube with Black Pepper & Red Wine (紅酒黑椒牛柳粒, $24 for small size). Seriously, I loved this dish.

 
The beef cubes were not only tender and flavourful, it was amazingly filled with the wok's breath (aka wok-hei). Even a picky eater, like my sister, could not stop munching on this.

 
We also tried their Braised Mixed Vegetables with Shredded Conpoy & Superior Stock in Claypot (上汤干贝什菜煲, $12 for small size), and our tummies were pleased with its flavours in entirety, as the conpoy really enhanced the fragrance and taste of the dish.

 
Sit back, eat and relax as a pretty lady in cheongsam strums and plucks on her Pipa, producing lovely classic and fusion tunes for your enjoyment. This live performance is only available on Fridays and Saturdays.

 
Overall, I really enjoyed the entire dining experience here, from the food, to the surroundings, to its service. I'm glad to add this restaurant as one of my favourite Cantonese restaurant. And yes, I will be back again to try out their dim sum too!

Dragon Bowl is also located very near Milk & Honey yogurt soft serve, which you can visit for dessert after a satisfying meal here.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 19, 2015 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Mad for Garlic Restaurant: Review Smile Jun 07, 2015   
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Categories : Italian | Pasta | Steaks and Grills

Recently, I swung by Mad for Garlic with the besties for dinner. I've always heard about this place, so I was pretty happy about checking it out. I went to the one at Clarke Quay, but there's another branch at Suntec as well.

 
Area:

Clarke Quay

Country:

Singapore

Price:

$$

Good For:

Groups / Solos / Friends / Family

Accessibility:

Average

(Takes about 10 - 12 minutes walk from Clarke Quay MRT Station)

Here's the ticker right outside their restaurant, showing the number of Garlic Snowing Pizzas served. The number is still increasing!

 
Some information about Mad for Garlic:

Mad for Garlic is Korea’s first garlic-themed Italian restaurant. The unique concept made its debut in 2001 through Mad for Garlic’s first restaurant in Apgujeong-dong, an affluent entertainment and residential district in southern Seoul.

With its unique and innovative menu with garlic-specialized Italian cuisine and an excellent selection of wines, Mad for Garlic soon became one of Korea's most popular restaurant chains. Rather than having a central kitchen system, at Mad for Garlic, the entire cooking process starts with raw materials in the kitchen of each branch to bring fresh food to the table.

In 2013, Mad for Garlic was voted by Korea Times and Korea Herald as the Best Performing Italian Restaurant concept in Korea.It was a well-lit restaurant though its design bathed in black. I also like how the area is really wide and there is good space between tables, ample 'private' space, good enough to feel really comfortable.

 
Lots of garlic strewn around, just to make a point.

 
Garlic Snowing Pizza ($22.50)

 
Yes! I tried their signature pizza, a sweet type of pizza topped with shrimps, pineapple dice and cheese. Also, of course, not forgetting... the garlic flakes! Surprisingly, it was so garlicky but in an absolutely good way. I really enjoyed this dish!

 
A slice of goodness.

 
Lobster Cream Pasta ($23.50)

This is another signature dish from them, and you'll find no garlic slices here. Why? Because the garlic has been infused in the cream!

 
While this is yummy, but I don't find it very interesting as I didn't really taste too much garlic in the pasta. A tasty eat, no doubt.

Banana Chocolate Pizza ($12.90)

My friends were really hesitant to try this dessert. How does banana, chocolate, icecream and garlic sound to you?

 
I was glad I forced them to order it. It was really good and they turned out liking this dish too!

 
The chocolate was thinly spread on a nice crepe, sliced bananas and garlic filled the dessert. The ingredients went really well together and the crispy, thin crepe did not disappoint too!

 
The Best bit: Garlic snowing pizza, banana chocolate pizza (dessert) and comfortable seating.

Worst bit: Dishes are all detox machines. (Haha!)

Ratings: 7 / 10

Mad for Garlic Singapore 매드 포 갈릭

Location: Clarke Quay branch - Block 3B, River Valley Rd #01-16, The Foundry 179021

Operating Hours: Sun to Thu: 11:30am to 10:00pm / Fri & Sat: 11:30am to 11:00pm

Tel: (65) 6238 1930

Website: Link
Supplementary Information:
Though I went to the one at Clarke Quay, which has closed down, I still really enjoy the food from this Korean born restaurant!
 
Date of Visit: Apr 02, 2015 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Alfero Artisan Gelato Review Smile Jun 07, 2015   
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Categories : Italian | Ice Cream and Gelato


Hosted in the cozy setting in Marina Square, a couple of bloggers chilled out to lovely gelatos on a lovely Sunday in April, at Alfero Gelato.

About Alfero Gelato:

Alfero Artisan Gelato is prepared with a mixture of high quality ingredients – milk, cream, sugar, eggs, fruits, chocolate, nuts, etc. with a high nutritional value. Italian gelato contains less fat than ice cream, has less incorporated air and is served at a higher temperature (-11 degree Celsius). Our gelato provides a greater flavour experience because there is less fat that coats the tongue, more flavour per spoonful (due to less air), and the taste buds are more alive since the temperature is not so cold as to numb the sensitivity. The lower fat content also means fewer calories to burn.

Alfero Gelato is one of the 16 finalists in the Gelato World Tour's best gelato flavour competition, and that explains my excitement to try it!

Here's a photo from Alfero Gelato, showing the man behind the gelato brand - Marco Alfero - and his gelato entry for the competition (right).

 
(Photo credits to Alfero Gelato)

A side note: Many hotels and Italian restaurants place orders for his gelatos as they like its quality and texture!

 
Why are the tubs all closed? There's a special reason.

The gelato tubs are kept closed to minimise their contact with air, light and the inconsistent temperatures. This helps to retain the quality of the gelatos.

 
I started off with some hot chocolate. It's really smooth and not even that sweet. It's totally my style of how a good hot chocolate should be. When I tasted this, I knew that the chocolate gelato here was not going to disappoint.

 
For the young ones - he's also done up a pure Milk Gelato flavour to suit the taste buds of children. It's really flavoured with milk, but it was too light for my tastebuds and I would still stick with the other flavoured gelatos.

However, the brownie totally didn't make the mark for me, so I will focus on the gelatos instead.

 
He is also very experimental with his products, and to appeal to the local market with the help of a staff, he came up with...

Chendol Waffles paired with Chendol Merdeka Gelato! This gelato flavour was also the one which got him into the top 16 in the Best Gelato Flavour Competition.

Combining the fragrance of coconut milk, freshly squeezed pandan juice, flavourful gula melaka, velvety red beans and smooth chendol (green starched jelly), Chendol Merdeka Gelato is created to commemorate Singapore’s 50th Birthday, which also explains why the word ‘Merdeka’ is added to the name, and the love for local food by the locals.

 
It was an interesting idea, and the gelato was really lovely! But I personally feel that the waffles should be crispier.

Here are the various gelato flavours we tried!

Tested Flavours (Not in order): Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Yuzu, Passion Fruit, Durian, Strawberry Sorbet, Avocado, Mango, Chendol, Walnut and Bacio (Hazelnut and Chocolate)

My favourite flavours are the pistachio (although I'm not a pistachio person!), dark chocolate, yuzu, mango and avocado! Be sure to try these flavours when you drop by.

 
Looking from the photo above, were you able to spot the pistachio?

No, it's not the cup in the front row, spotting a brighter green. Their pistachio ice cream colour is a slightly dirtier green because there's absolutely no colouring used in his gelatos.

The Pistachio ice cream is hidden here! The green one in the front row is Avocado smile

 
Marco sources and imports the ingredients used in his gelatos from Italy. You can be sure that you're getting the best from your 'simple' cup of gelato, as the distinctive ingredients are from the best parts of the country.

To put it simply, for example, he'll only import from the place in Italy which spouts best pistachios! So much effort goes into a scoop, and only natural ingredients are used, that's why I love their gelato.

 
Another thing I like about their gelatos are that there's no gum added in the ice-cream, that's why it melts faster than other ice-creams.

MELTING~!

 
Finally, my points go to Alfero Gelato as they only sport 2% to 9% fat, as opposed to ice-cream, which has about 18% to 30% fat in it! I'm sure this will be a huge score point for the girls!

Girls, time to enjoy!

Alfero Artisan Gelato (Marina Square Branch)

Location: 6 Raffles Boulevard 02-226A/B Marina Square Singapore 039594

Tel: +65 6338 5828

Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday 12:00 to 22:00

Website: http://www.alferogelato.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alferogelato
 
Date of Visit: Apr 11, 2015 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Ice-cream Shack: Dessert Review Smile Jun 07, 2015   
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Categories : Café | Desserts and Cakes | Ice Cream and Gelato


Hanging around Bukit Merah recently, I visited the Ice Cream Shack with some fellow food blogger friends, Hannah, Hazel and Eileen.

 
Area:

Bukit Merah (Redhill) / Tiong Bahru

Country:

Singapore

Price:

$

Good For:

Groups / Solos / Friends / Family / Takeaway

Accessibility:

Fastest route: Approx. 11 minutes walk from Redhill MRT Station (EW18)The surroundings were really pretty, as the shop was designed based on the Brighton Beach houses.

 
Really colourful and lovely, it is bound to brighten up your day.

 
Here are the pricings! Quite reasonable~

 
They also have a special 10% discount promotion for secondary school students, available from 2.30pm to 6.30pm on weekdays!

 
You can taste the gelato ice-cream flavours before you decide to buy it. Which was what I did before choosing my 2 flavours to go with my waffles.

 
Earl Grey Lavender

 
Mango

 
Chai

 
Lychee Rose

 
Ice-cream with Belgium waffles

I like that the belgium waffles were airy and really crispy. I realised how some people do not like it like that though. But to me, it's a light dessert which I can order to pair off my meal (probably after eating at the hawker centre nearby! Some maple syrup is also given on the side, but doesn't do much difference to the taste though.

In the process of making the waffles...

 
We paired the waffles with a scoop each of the premium D24 durian flavour and the Lychee Rose. Eat the Lychee Rose before the D24 flavour as it has a really strong durian flavour, which would diminish the taste of the Lychee Rose if you were to eat it after the durian one.

 
I loved both flavours though.

They also have other interesting flavours like pistachio, marmite cheese. I liked their salted caramel as well and earl grey lavender!

We also had the dark chocolate and mango flavour on a cone.

 
Mango was so-so and the dark chocolate tasted more appealing. But if I could choose again, I would rather go with the pistachio flavour and earl grey lavender, though - more unique!Best bit: The pretty environment and super friendly service. Plus the D24 ice cream. smile

Worse bit: None.

Ice Cream Shack

Location: Blk 163 Bukit Merah Central, #02-3605, Singapore 150163

Opening Hours: 11.30am - 10pm
 
Date of Visit: May 22, 2015 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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