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thegirlnextshore
This is thegirlnextshore living in Novena.
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thegirlnextshore  Level 2
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Categories : Café

Sorrel is the latest gastronomic bistro concept in Singapore. Local foodies have been raving about the recently opened venture but in my opinion, like most new restaurants, there's room for improvement.

 
Located on Boon Tat Street near Raffles Place, Sorrel is the brainchild of famed Singaporean hotelier-restaurateur Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Group (Pollen, The Library, The Study) and 24-year old executive chef Johnston Teo (formerly of Jaan, Pollen and Tippling Club).

 
Our table for eight took a lot of pulling and pushing and phone calls to get. Understandably, this 40-seater is quite hot and buzzed about. Their haute cuisine tasting menu offers seasonal ingredients at prices that are quite reasonable: five courses for SG$88 (£42) and seven courses for SG$118 (£58). Not bad, eh? It sounded so promising.

While we all wanted to try different menus, we were told that the whole table must opt for the same number of courses. If we wanted to order a course from the other menu we just had to pay SG$25 per course. I've never heard this type of rule before, quite frankly, as most restaurants I've visited serving set menus would always cater to this type of request and adjust timings for smooth service. We all ended up having the five course menu. Oh well.

 
We were offered some snacks to whet our appetites including some homemade sour cream onion chips (one piece each) and a yam-filled micro-croquette (pictured) topped with a dot of black pepper sauce.

 
Next was a foamy, frozen apple concoction served with some apple fizz. This was quite nice and refreshing, an easy mouthful to cleanse the palate.

 
We were then served some "complimentary" bread which looked like mantou but tasted like normal dinner rolls. Whilst I commend the softness and "straight-from-the-oven" feel of these rolls, I wish they were able to serve more of it. We asked for more and were told they couldn't possibly give us any more than what we got.

 
For our first course, we had some sort of deconstructed pumpkin soup. The soup itself, served at room temp, was creamy. Textures from what seemed to be chopped up root veg, corn and supposedly smoked eel made it fuller, except the flavour profile didn't change so much.

 
The kohlrabi salad fared better. I enjoyed the sharpness of the horseradish and mustard seeds. Quite a humble dish that didn't really need more.

 
The seafood tagliatelle came next. The lightness of the pasta noodles paved way for the creamy sauce to shine. Served with a scallop, a mussel and chopped langoustine, this was one of the more successful dishes of the night. I wish there was more on the plate.

 
The wagyu short rib was probably my favourite dish of the night. The sliver of beef was melt in your mouth soft and paired with a morsel of rich, salty sweetbread, it was quite a palate party. Whilst my arteries clogged at the thought of the sauce being made with bone marrow, the pairing with polenta and corn complimented the protein.

 
We were served a palate cleanser made with some mixed milk textures and cucumber jelly. I joked about how it smelled like my Sai Sei seaweed bath soak, it was quite refreshing (just a bit of an acquired taste!)

 
Dessert came shortly after. I actually liked this humble plate of milk textures. There's a bit of panacotta, a bit of merengue and a bit of ice cream. The subtle flavour of milk and vanilla played well with the bittersweet clementine.

Overall the dishes were okay but I can't say I was mindblown, especially when there are noticeable points of improvement:

portion sizes are quite meager and whilst I reckon this is why the set price is low, I don't think people with massive appetites would be satisfied here;
course turnover took quite a while. I understand degustation menus are meant to be enjoyed in a timely manner but for the portions per plate you could hear our bellies grovelling for the next plateful; and finally,
service was confusing. We noticed the five-course menu changed within half an hour of arrival and nobody bothered to tell us of this change until the early birds asked because a few old menus were still on the table. Also, whilst some servers aimed to please there were a couple who could learn a thing or two about hospitality.

I can't deny the potential of the place because after all the concept of seasonal haute cuisine can be exciting. Just a little honing and tweaking, perhaps, and a little reminder that when it comes to good quality food, people will happily pay more for more.
 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Feb 07, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $100(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 2  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 2

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Fast fresh sushi! Smile Dec 02, 2014   
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Categories : Japanese | Sushi/Sashimi

Originally posted on: http://www.thegirlnextshore.com/2014/02/la-la-la-love-sushisashimi-tomi-sushi.html

I've been thinking of sushi/sashimi a lot lately. The last time I've had proper sushi here in London was during a date in Kikuchi three years ago where I've had the most amazing aburi otoro in my life. Given that 1) we racked a bill of £150 (which I insisted on splitting); 2) it was the most awfully quiet date ever (I passed for round two ten minutes in); I bought a Cornish pasty on the way home as my belly reminded me to "Mind the Gap", I didn't think it was worth it. There are decent-enough restaurants that serve good Japanese here but sushi is generally expensive in Londontown. For the price marks you'd think you'd be mind blown by what you're paying for but unforch, the only thing blown is that hole in your pocket.

This thought takes me back to Tomi Sushi in Singapore (Novena Square), where Plaid Boy and I would go if we wanted a quick Jap fix. I was quite apprehensive during my first visit as it's a chain restaurant in a mall (only because London is the land of no sushi and Yo!Sushi), but despite the mass-market cover up I've been told the food is of high calibre... at modest prices.

The set menus are absolutely best bang for your buck: they all include rice, miso soup (you can upgrade to soba noodles for extra $3), salad, chawanmushi ($6 a la carte) and fruit. They have different prices for dinner/lunch service, mind you, but still absolutely affordable. Here are some of our favourites:

 
Nigiri sakura ($28) includes eight pieces of nigiri (including a slice of maguro chutoro), and tori karaage. The fried chicken pieces are quite tender juicy and not oily at all. I enjoyed having this with the salad, simple as it is, drizzled with sesame dressing.

 
My absolute favourite has to be the sashimi set ($25 for lunch, $35 for dindin) and yes - it tastes as amazing as it looks. The cuts of swordfish, prawn, tuna, salmon and sole are so melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Each piece is so fresh you can absolutely taste the sweetness of the fish and there's no need for that soy-wasabi what have you. You seriously need this in your life.

(By the way they serve different soy for sashimi and for sushi. Not sure I was able to spot any difference save for viscosity.)

 
The sushi gozen set ($54) is super sulit also. You get a set of maki and nigiri (including a piece of tuna chutoro), an assortment of tempura, some hijiki and a slice of gindara teriyaki. Isn't that a feast?

 
If you're a purist who just wants sushi/sashimi they obviously sell these a la carte but you're better off with an assortment if you fancied trying everything. For five pieces, the maguro chutoro alone is up for $40, and the otoro for $60. That's fair pricing compared to the ridic price tag of sushi here in London, but still. The assorted sets range from $23-130 and you can't beat that, can you? Everyhing is absolutely fresh.

 
Boyfriend not included

Service is decent and swift and the quality of ingredients makes me question the price (Why so cheap?!). Not that we mind, of course... but you get my drift.

I wish we had something like Tomi here in London. That would be lunch sorted every day.

Ave spend pp $30 for lunch, $50 for dinner (and that can go a very long way)

 
Recommended Dish(es):  Sashimi set
 
Table Wait Time: 2 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Feb 17, 2014 

Spending per head: Approximately $70

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

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Drury Lane Café OK Dec 02, 2014   
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Categories : Café | Desserts and Cakes | Pasta | Burgers and Sandwiches | Brunch

Originally posted on: http://www.thegirlnextshore.com/2014/11/drury-lane-cafe-singapore-where-lunch.html

My friend Fran suggested lunch at Drury Lane on Tanjong Pagar Road in Chinatown, which I found quite serendipitous, as my office in London is very near a street called Drury Lane.

 

 

 

 
The cafe is set on two floors; downstairs has a rather quick-eat feel for those on the go whilst upstairs is laid for those who have a bit more time for bigger meals.

 
We opted for the daily specials. Fran chose the smoked salmon pasta with portabello mushrooms and aglio olio. It looked as picturesque as it sounded although I personally thought the serving was going to be a bit more generous. Nonetheless, I reckon she enjoyed it. smile

 
I got a smoked portobello mushroom sandwich with avocado (SG$11) and asked for extra steak (SG$4). This was under the "pasta dishes" so I was surprised to get a sandwich. I was too happy with my date to whine, though. Yay to the power of nice people talaga!

 
It's like a glorified cheesesteak except slightly healthier. I love the combination of avocado and mushroom but it left half of the bread soggy and the other half hard. The steak pieces, cooked medium well were actually quite tender and seasoned well. It's a decent sandwich, but I downed my last bite wishing I ordered the prawn pasta instead.Drury Lane looks like a decent cafe and I'd come back to try their coffee and cakes next time... but if I'm being honest, the highlight of this visit wasn't particularly the food, but my lunch date. 
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Coffee
 
Table Wait Time: 5 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Oct 30, 2014 

Spending per head: Approximately $20

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

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Really decent cocktails! Smile Dec 02, 2014   
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Categories : Bars/Lounges

Originally posted on: http://www.thegirlnextshore.com/2014/11/the-library-at-keong-saik-road-singapore.html

Don't you just love reconnecting with friends you meet around the world in different countries?

My friend, mixologist extraordinaire Nick Quattroville, relocated in Singapore last year to manage Jason Atherton's ventures in the Lion City's Chinatown: The Study, a British-inspired tapas bistro and its password-only speakeasy bar next door, The Library. I hadn't seen Nick in yonks so I made sure I caught up with him on this trip.

 
Two days before he shaved his beard nest in time for Movember!

I met Nick about four years ago at LAB on Old Compton Street, one of my all-time favourite bars in London. He's worked in various places since (including the W Hotel and La Bodega Negra) and I enjoyed following him around town because his concoctions reflect an amazing tradition of cocktail drinking and they're usually very spot on. Like fuzzy slippers on snow day.

 
I'm always on the lookout for decent cocktail bars when I visit Singapore. I've heard about The Library from Plaid Boy before and was keen to try it out with Nick heading the team.

 
I had a Rye'n'Air to start. It's a clever drink of rye whisky, campari, absinthe, peach liqueur and their house vermouth blend - essentially a boulevardier except it's slightly sweeter with the peach liqueur, but not overpoweringly so.

 
Wordplay inspired by the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, I loved the presentation: a medicine jar in a "UK-customs paid and passed" Ziploc bag as if it's all ready for security.

 
On my visit, bartenders Vik & Joel were mixing up and testing new cocktails they've invented, some for the menu and some for a competition. I was happy to taste and give my punter's POV. My favourite was a nice tequila-based drink with pineapple liqueur and bitters.

 
Next up was not a cocktail, but a very, very, very special treat: a shot of the rare 25-year old single malt by Brora. Less than 3,000 bottles were released which is why it retails at £600 on average per bottle. It's truly a great whisky, with a nice balance between peaty, nutty and smoky notes. Needless to say I was very, very, very happy.

 
An hour and three drinks (and a few sips of those "new cocktails") later, I was definitely feeling rather fantastic. I could feel my Asian flush coming out in the dark and realised I haven't eaten all day. They do have bar snacks too (amazing sliders!) but I had my heart set on something else.

Of course, you can't just leave a bar without having one for the road AND asking yourself this question...

 
To Pea or Not To Pea! took me by surprise. Brandy, bitters and... green pea syrup?! It sounded like the vegetables your parents force-fed you as a child but actually, it's refreshing. One for those who like 'em light and tangy.

Overall, I liked The Library. The vibe is very speakeasy, none of those too loud cocktail places where they serve diluted adult drinks. The Rye'n'Air definitely brings enough mileage - not for the faint-hearted but definitely have a lot of heart. Nevermind the password-protected door mallarkey. Go for the cocktails, ask for Nick, enjoy.

 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Oct 30, 2014 

Spending per head: Approximately $75

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

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Categories : Singaporean | Fusion | Restaurant | Seafood


Whenever I visit Singapore, I always try to meet up with my former colleague, S (who also blogs here). She always takes me to the coolest places, which makes sense as she's lived there all her life. For this trip, S took me to Wild Rocket at Mount Emily.

 
Wild Rocket serves “Mod Sin” cuisine (Modern Singaporean) as pioneered by its chef and owner Willin Low. Drawing inspiration from his travels and his passion for food he grew up with, the lawyer-turned-restaurateur conceptualises his dishes by twisting ingredients and turning presentations without losing the spirit of tradition. The result? A very exciting and contemporary take on Singaporean food. Think hawker food but gourmet.

 
The space, refurbished recently, is contemporary and clean-looking. There's an omakase bar where the chef serves an 8-course degustation menu (SG$118, roughly £55) and a area you can hire for private dining.

 
As we munched on the complimentary bread (served with really good olive oil), S and I both opted for the set lunch. It's great value for money at SG$33 (roughly £15) especially when some of the mains are set on that price.

 

 
Our first course came and the server instructed us to pull our drawers for cutlery. I liked this idea. I also liked the fact that as we were in Asia, it's almost customary to take photos of your food first! Lol.

 
For starters, we had the gyam chye mustard greens in duck consomme with duck confit ravioli and foie gras bits. S tells me it's a modern take on the classic Peranakan dish itek tim, a soup of duck, vegetables and salted vegetables and salted plumps simmered together (like the Filipino dish tinola).

 
The bits of foie gras and the gyam chye (pickled mustard) gave the dish good texture and the duck confit ravioli was really good. The consomme itself looked spectacularly clear, except S & I both couldn't finish it as it was a bit too kiam (salty).

 
We asked for a separate order of their famous pomelo salad with tiger prawns and frozen coconut sauce (SG$17) which S had been raving about for yonks.

 
It looked so deceptively simple yet the freshness of the ingredients made this dish sing. The frozen coconut sauce, sweet with notes of fish sauce and savoury things, is genius. Each bite was exciting as textures from green beans, nuts, crispy garlic, chilli and coriander play freely in your mouth. Yummy.

 
For mains, I had the catfish masok merah with spicy tomato relish served with asparagus. It looked rather simple but captured the flavour profile of masak merah, a classic curry dish often served with chicken. I thought I'd be hungry after this but two fillets of catfish in that awesome sauce later, I was pretty satisfied.

 
S ordered the krapao thai basil pork bee tai bak topped with onsen egg. I had a bit before she poked the yolk and I liked it a lot. Pork had a bit of a kick and the noodles were interesting.

That said, for someone who doesn't eat egg I truly appreciated the food porn the onsen egg created.

Onsen is a Japanese term relating to hot springs that flow, and look at how that egg yolk flowed...

 

 
Impressive, no?

 
I had the ji ma hu black sesame soup with milk ice cream for dessert. It was a generous portion for what it is but anyone who loves peanut butter would consume this with much gusto. I wish the texture was a bit smoother but overall, the taste was moderated by the milk ice cream.

 
S had the coconut ice cream with salted gulab malaka. I love all things coconut but thought the ice cream was just average. I thought the salted gulab malaka (palm sugar) would taste like salted caramel but actually, it has less smoky/burnt flavour with a bit of tang and a smoother texture. Quite pleasant.

Overall I reckon my Wild Rocket experience was made better by dining with a local who was able to explain origins of each dish. With each forkful of contemporary food, my mind traipsed through history, culture and tradition. I enjoyed it very much and though the location is a bit tricky to get to, it's pretty worth the trek.

Wild Rocket Singapore

Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road Singapore | +65 6339 9448

Ave spend pp: SG$50 for lunch, $75 for dinner

Like them on Facebook. Follow Chef Low on Instagram.

 
Recommended Dish(es):  Pomelo Salad
 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Oct 29, 2014 

Spending per head: Approximately $50

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

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