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jiaksimipng
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Categories : Café | Desserts and Cakes | Pasta

There are quite a number of eateries situated in the East, especially near the Kembangan area where Changi Road runs. South Union Park, however, is hidden at the opposite end of where the known eateries of Kembangan are found within the private housing estate. Decked out with white walls and wood furniture; some with black leather upholstery, South Union Park gives off a rather relaxed vibe that seemed to be a little Scandinavian-inspired with an open kitchen concept tucked at the right side of the bistro. The interior fittings are minimalistic with a good amount of natural lighting shining in, but not seemingly cliche compared to one of a hipster cafe; instead, feeling modern, chic and homely at the same time. Serving up mainly western fare, South Union Park serves a couple of pasta dishes and two mains for those who are looking for something more substantial, while there is also an extensive dessert menu for the sweet-tooth. On the drinks menu, they do serve coffee, tea, sodas and a small selection of alcohol, which makes for a good pairing with their menu of sides and snacks.

 
I am usually one who rarely orders Pasta, and especially more for the case for Agnolotti for they are usually very filling for me. Their Butternut Agnolotti ($17) was, however, a delight to have, so much so that I completely enjoyed the dish and found no difficulty at all to finish the entire plate clean. According to what I was told, the Agnolotti here is made in-house. The chef here roasts the Butternut Squash before mashing it into a puree and stuff them into the pasta sheets. The result is an Agnolotti which came in the right thickness; not too thin that it breaks easily, but also not too thick to the extent that it feels too doughy. A single bite, and you would find the Butternut Squash puree eagerly bursting out of the Agnolotti, revealing a roasty sweetness that was pretty intriguing. The Agnolotti went well with the bouncy mushrooms which gave the pasta an earthy flavour to balance things out and the savoury flavours of cheese and garlicky herb crumbs sprinkled over the top. Towards the bottom, the dish felt a little bit on the oily side, but given how awesome it tasted, I would say that this is just a small issue that is not really much of a problem anyway.

 
Towards the end of the meal, I was presented with the Apple Crumble ($10) with compliments from the chef. This is one of the desserts available on their Plated Desserts section of the menu. Unlike other Apple Crumbles out there, this variant is unique for how they have decided to not serve the Apple Crumble as a pie, but more in the form that is closer to a plated dessert. Coming with Vanilla Ice-Cream drizzled with Salted Caramel sauce, Crumbles, Greek Yogurt and an entire stewed apple, this was surprisingly not overwhelmingly sweet for the stewed apple was not cooked in caramel, thus tasting of its own natural sweetness and carried a rather soft texture similar to a poached pear. Greek Yogurt is rarely found in an Apple Crumble, but in this variant it seemed to have worked and integrated well with the entire dish, especially when combined with the crumbles for it seemed to replicate the textures and flavours of Muesli subtly. Vanilla Ice-Cream was speckled with vanilla beans all over and was incredibly aromatic and creamy. Combine all the ingredients into one spoonful, and it does replicate the flavours of a classic Apple Crumble Pie without that unnecessary sugar rush for how balanced it felt.

 
Throughout these couple of months, I have visited quite a number of newly-opened places but there is not quite one that left me such a deep impression in the bistro scene as much as South Union Park does. During the course of the entire meal, I was pretty impressed with how every single dish came; not only they were a hit, but they just had that flavour and quality that strikes on your taste buds and gives that gleam in your eyes, and sure I did leave the place a happy man with a really satiated stomach. Service was more than decent, with attentive staff who seemed to be quite automatic in giving recommendations once you have seated and promptly coming over to check if everything is alright and clearing plates when you are done (though there were just two tables occupied at the time I have visited, you could feel the sincerity behind). Definitely did not regret my decision on heading straight over after school from the west side of the island to the east when I spotted them over on Instagram; this is one place I would do another revisit soon for I am pretty sure that I would develop cravings for their food, and also to try out the other items on the menu such as the Souffle as well!

For more photos and the full review, head to jiaksimipng by clicking on the link below:
https://jiaksimipng.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/south-union-park-jalan-kembangan/
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Butternut Agnolotti
 
Table Wait Time: 20 minute(s)


Spending per head: Approximately $27(Lunch)

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

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Categories : Singaporean | Fusion | Restaurant | Seafood

Being one of the ten restaurants that had made it to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016, Wild Rocket sits at the 38th position on the list amongst other restaurants in various parts of Asia. Wild Rocket is started by Chef Willin Low, who used to practice law before his foray into the F&B industry in 2005. Nestled in the tranquil environment of Hangout Hotel, Wild Rocket is within walking distance from Little India MRT, though it is a steep climb up a hill. In 2014, the space was renovated to what it looks like today, exuding a clean, Japanese-inspired vibe that is classy, comfortable yet without being pretentious or over the top. For lunch hours on weekdays (which was the time we had made our visit), diners can choose from the ala-carte menu, the 3-course set lunch menu ($38++) or the Omakase menu (between $120++ to $160++), while the 3-course set lunch menu would be replaced with a 4-course set dinner menu ($75++) in the evening.

 
First to arrive at the table would be the bread service, where we were served house-made Brioche with an accompanying olive oil to dip in. Baked in-house, the Brioche may seem just a tad dry initially, but it turns out to be fluffy afterwards as the bread simply disintegrates into smaller pieces instead of clumping up so there is pretty much close to zero effort to chew. The consistency of the bread might be done intentionally so that it does not turn too mushy if dipped into the olive oil, which is pretty fragrant and flavourful. For those who prefer their bread to go with butter, they do also offer salted butter on request.

 
For my starter, I have decided to go for the Giam Chye Mustard Leaf Duck Consommé with Duck Confit Cubes, which is Wild Rocket’s take on the Chinese Salted Vegetable Soup that is served with daikon, tomatoes and duck confit cubes. I am one who does not really fancy Chinese soups, but this was one that got me going for more. While seemingly light to drink, the soup was immensely flavourful especially for how clear it was; never a moment too oily. Duck Confit cubes were spectacular; felt pretty smoky and savoury at the same time and definitely gave a good flavour contrast to the soup. Indeed, a great starter to the meal ahead.

 
My dining partner picked the Barramundi Carpaccio with Orange Shallot Oil. A harmonious marriage of the Chinese Yu Sheng into Carpaccio, the fish was amazingly fresh and drizzled with orange shallot oil for a little tanginess going hand-in-hand with the shallot was fragrant of its roasty flavour; that flavour you would have expected from the same shallots you add into a piping hot bowl of Porridge. It’s really that comforting.

 
Picking from the selection of mains, my choice was the Iberico Pork Char Siew with Shanghai Kao Cai & Quinoa (supplement $8++). The instructions to enjoy this dish was as follows; peel off the rice paper over the bowl, then squeeze the Calamansi to release the juices over the dish. Digging into the Iberico Pork Char Siew first, the tenderness of the slab of pork was mind-blowing; a really soft, tender, juicy slab of pork where you can pull the streaks of flesh effortlessly with a fork. Coated with a layer of sauce that exudes a smoky sweetness, the pork itself really stood to the occasion basking in the limelight for how stellar the execution was, making every bite an ironic moment because it’s just so good to have, but every bite that was taken would mean one bite less afterwards. The Quinoa was decent, but the Kao Cai was umami which helped to lift the flavours of the Quinoa while the lone Shiitake mushroom at the side also deserves a little mention for that subtle sweetness that sets it apart from the usual Chinese dried mushrooms that we are used to having. It is told to us that this dish is their take on the “Tau Yu Bak”, and the rice paper served alongside is intended to be the replacement of the bread that usually comes along as a carb; the wait staff however advice patrons against eating the rice paper as the texture of a half-steamed rice paper is not something everybody might fancy, but it is known that some patrons still do eat it.

 
Unlike the Iberico Pork Char Siew, the Baked Halibut with Curry Hollandaise (supplement $6++) would really hit those who prefer softer flavours. Twice-baked; once just by itself and the second time with the Curry Hollandaise on, the Halibut achieved flakiness without losing moisture within. Since the Curry Hollandaise is baked along with the fish rather than being simply drizzled over the top, the Curry Hollandaise actually “sticks” on the fish instead, which definitely helped to lock in the flavours of the sauce above the fish. The Curry Hollandaise helps add a hint of curry fragrance into the dish, and alongside with the root vegetables did seem like Wild Rocket’s twist on Fish Curry. While the root vegetables on the side seemed to be devoid of excessive seasoning, they were still flavourful from their natural flavours; possibly an intended move to bring out the unadulterated, natural flavours and sweetness of the root vegetables with no distractions.

 
With four desserts on the menu to choose from, we have decided to go for the Trio of Flowers and Strawberry Cheesecake (supplement $2++). Between the two, the Trio of Flowers would fit well for those who prefer lighter desserts; coming with Osmantnus & Chrysanthemum Granita, the flowery flavours work as a good palate cleanser for a flavour-intensive main. Together with the Elderflower Jelly sitting beneath the granita, it adds a tasteful sourness that provides for a flavour contrast with the granita, making the dessert a truly refreshing after-meal treat. For those who crave for something more conventional-sounding, the Strawberry Cheesecake is actually Wild Rocket’s signature dessert. Served deconstructed with layers of cream cheese, digestive biscuits and macerated strawberries, they were bound together with a Maple Walnut ice cream that introduces a mildly sweet, yet nutty flavour to the dessert. Despite how normal it might sound, this is probably one of the best renditions of a cheesecake out there; Wild Rocket had made their own twists to the elements that make up the dish, hence the flavours are really balanced and uplifting that one will never get sick of. Truly living up to the name of signature indeed.

For more photos and the full review, head over to jiaksimipng in the link below:
https://jiaksimipng.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/wild-rocket-upper-wilkie-road/

 
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Giam Chye Mustard Leaf Duck Consommé,Baked Halibut with Curry Hollandaise,Strawberry Cheesecake,Iberico Pork Char Siew with Shanghai Kao Cai & Quinoa
 
Table Wait Time: 20 minute(s)


Spending per head: Approximately $54(Lunch)

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

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Good food, long wait. Smile Mar 10, 2015   
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Categories : Spanish | Fusion | Café

 
Replacing Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice, Paddy Hills opened to much hype bringing cafehoppers in the west yet another option to dine at. Cafe by day and restaurant bar at night, Paddy Hills serves brunch fare as well as a variety of mains in the afternoon, whereas the kitchen would churn out sharing plates and tapas-style offerings at night. Taking inspiration from Australian cafés, the interior takes the industrial approach, but at the same time also pretty homely and relaxing and food items are also plated in a way that’s rarely seen in the local cafe scene.

 
For a side, we decided to go for the Cauliflower Fritters ($12); air-fried Cauliflower florets sprinkled with paprika salt and masala yogurt at the side. A dish that sounds relatively similar to the Aburi Broccoli Salad served at Sin Lee Foods, this is yet another dish that is bound to convert veggie haters to veggie lovers. Fried cauliflower was crisp and well-seasoned in paprika salt for the right amount of saltiness. Dip each floret into the masala yogurt and it gives a sweet tang to the vegetable. Really addictive because I was having it non-stop, while one of my dining partners instantly got converted to a cauliflower fan being one who does not touch cauliflower at all. Despite being a side, this was the last dish to arrive before the Berry Ricotta Hotcake; ain't sides suppose to arrive the table first?

 
I went with two other dining partners, and two of us decided to share a serving of Hash Hash ($24); a baked egg dish served with chorizo, sautéed mushrooms, baby potatoes, beef shank, polenta chips and shaved fennel with two slices of toast at the side. While it looked pretty manageable at first look, we realized there was so many ingredients loaded in it that we eventually found it overwhelming and ditched a few pieces of beef because we could not finish it. Think of it as beef stew, with tender beef that comes with beef which is not too gamey, loaded with an egg yolk to burst, sautéed halved baby potatoes with mushrooms and tiny cubes of chorizo. It gets overwhelming because of the dip gets more savoury over time, but the whole dish feels really well put together with a bit of everything; earthy flavours of mushrooms, the excitement of burst eggs and savouriness from chorizo and beef coming as one. Perhaps mixing the Hash Hash would help as the different condiments felt as though they were on their own respective side of the dish. Toast was also pretty impressive; crusty with enough tension to pull, speckled with walnuts for a crunch.

 
My dining partner ordered the Squid Ink Tagliatelle ($23). While the Squid Ink was really thick and creamy; strong in its savoury flavour, it feels a tad heavy after a while and he had difficulty trying to finish the remaining half off. Seared Scallops were fresh, while the Ikura helped in keeping the dish refreshing by injecting a umami flavour with each bite when it bursts.

 
While we were hanging around the comfortable seats after our meal, one of our friend coincidentally came by to try out the Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($19) which was served only after 45mins after he ordered. Served with blueberry sugar, mascarpone, pine nuts and a myriad of berries, the presentation sort of reminded us of a similar dish served at Stranger’s Reunion and Top Paddock in Australia. It was pretty luxurious; the hotcake was supposedly more cake-like, fluffy in between but surprisingly crisp on the outside; pretty interesting. The batter is also pre-mixed with maple syrup as it seems, so it has its own tinge of sweetness without having to drown it in any syrup. Mascarpone added a dimension of tartness and small hint of saltiness to it, which matched the sweetness well. Again though it gets overwhelming halfway through; perhaps the sweetness was a bit overkill, and the berries were somewhat warmed up by the hotcake so it gave the dish a weird temperature contrast.

 
Paddy Hills uses coffee blends that are specially roasted for them from Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee; a 99-1 blend which has chocolate and caramel notes and Spark which has berry-like notes. I ordered a 2oz White ($4) which I had initially expected to be really strong but despite its fruity body, did not turn out acidic nor leave an aftertaste.

 
For more photos and the full review, please visit: https://jiaksimipng.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/paddy-hills-south-buona-vista-road/

 
Recommended Dish(es):  Berry Ricotta Hotcake,Cauliflower Fritters,Squid Ink Tagliatelle
 
Table Wait Time: 45 minute(s)


Spending per head: Approximately $32(Lunch)

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

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Snowflake Waffles! Smile Nov 04, 2014   
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Categories : Ice Cream and Gelato

 
North Bridge Road seems to be seeing an explosion of cafes in the area lately; a week after Twenty Gramme’s opening, Rabbit Owl Depot has also started its operations right at the opposite end of North Bridge Road. Similar concept as other ice-cream parlours around, Rabbit Owl Depot serves ice-cream in cones and cups, as well as their signature snowflake waffles. Beverages include coffee, tea and a selection of cold drinks as well.

 
Going for the ice-cream, I decided to couple mine up with their signature Snowflake Waffles ($9.50 with Ice-Cream). Shaped like snowflakes, it looked pretty festive especially with the sprinkle of icing sugar over the top. It came with a wafting aroma of buttermilk, which was pretty evident in its taste. They were crisp and fluffy; perfect in its texture. The Earl Grey ice-cream was not only aromatic with the punch of flavour, but also had a milky, creamy touch. It was also sticky enough, and didn’t melt too quickly. I also got to try the Pineapple (a tart yet sweet flavour with bits of pineapple to chew on) and the Black Sesame (earthy and pungent, fully with a slight gritty texture); both were rather interesting.

 
Coffee here is made from a blend of Colombian and Sumatran beans. Flat White ($5) was smooth and creamy, with a lightly fruity body and a nutty finish.

 
For more photos and the full review, please visit: http://jiaksimipng.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/rabbit-owl-depot-north-bridge-road/
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Snowflake Waffles with Earl Grey Ice-Cream
 
Table Wait Time: 10 minute(s)


Spending per head: Approximately $15(Tea)

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

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Authentic Heng Hua fare! Smile Oct 16, 2014   
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Categories : Seafood | Zi Char

Heng Hua seems like as though it had been located in the Yishun neighbourhood for a long time, but we only recently found it when we were aimlessly walking around the neighbourhood. It caught our attention as it is rare to find eateries featuring Heng Hua cuisine around, and being North-siders we were intrigued about it being situated around our corridors.

 
Despite being a Heng Hua myself, I had not heard much about traditional Heng Hua dishes. My dining partner, who is also Heng Hua recommended to go for the Heng Hua style Mee Sua Kou ($4.00) . This is a traditional dish way back in the day; leftovers from dinner the day before would be thrown in a bowl and cooked in sticky, gooey broth with mee sua to form this dish. Of course, the one here at Heng Hua has no leftovers involved; we were surprised about the freshness of the ingredients, especially the mushrooms because they used fresh Shiitake Mushrooms in it. The Mee Sua Kou was springy and the gooey pork broth gave it a great flavour, and came with a generous amount of condiments such as crab stick, vegetables and tiny pork slices. The flavour, though evident was rather neutral; not heavy at all, and its advised that you share the smallest portion because its really quite huge for even the $4.00 portion size.

 
We also shared a second main; the Heng Hua style Fried Bee Hoon ($4.00) which was flavourful yet clean on the palette. Springy beehoon that was not wet but still moist was addictive, and again a generous portion of clams, sliced pork belly and fresh greens. Mention-worthy was the sliced pork belly; thin but fatty and chewy. We finished the pork belly slices even before half the beehoon was gone.

 
A dish that I would not miss at any Heng Hua restaurant (more of Putien; it is the only one I visited so far) would be the Stir-Fried Yam Cubes ($10.00). Unlike usual ones served outside these days, it does not come coated with honey but instead a sweet-savoury sauce with sugar. Nicely melted, it gave a sparkling glaze over the huge chunks of fried yam cubes without leaving any bit of grittiness. Because the chunks are huge, you get a lot of yam to chew, but the sweetness on the exterior is so well-balanced it was a brilliant mix of flavours. It is also barely greasy, and does not get sickening even after you finish the entire plate.

 
Broccoli and Scallop ($18.00) may look like a simple tzechar dish, but I could not get over the crunchiness of every broccoli stalk nor the chewy, tender chunks of scallop. Even the sauce is amazing; it seems that they could have used a broth instead though we were not too sure.

 
Easy a dish it may be, but a pan-fried egg tells a lot on the chef’s attitude on his cooking. Admittedly the Pan-Fried Egg with Shrimp ($10.00) was a bit misleading; seemed that they used prawns instead as the shrimps were just huge, meaty and juicy! We were impressed with this too; that fluffy omelette was consistent throughout even to the edges, and it made us feel like most Fu Yong Omelettes we had in the past were just bad … really bad.

 
We also ordered a Shark’s Fin Soup ($25.00) to share. While it did have lots of bits to chew on and had enough of flavour, the soup was a little watery and when compared to the rest of the other dishes we had, it just felt a bit underwhelming because it lacked a wow-factor. Nonetheless, it is still something we did not mind ordering at all.

For more photos and the full review, please visit: http://jiaksimipng.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/heng-hua-restaurant-%E5%85%B4%E5%8C%96%E7%BE%8E%E9%A3%9F-blk-747-yishun-street-72/

 
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Pan-Fried Egg with Shrimp,Heng Hua style Mee Sua Kou,Heng Hua style Fried Bee Hoon,Broccoli and Scallop,Stir-Fried Yam Cubes
 
Table Wait Time: 20 minute(s)


Spending per head: Approximately $25(Dinner)

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

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