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mycc
This is mycc living in Central. I work in Central. I like to hang out in Chinatown, Raffles Place, Orchard. Japanese, Singaporean, Multi-Cuisine are my favorite cuisines. I also love Hawker Centre, Bakery and Roasted Meat, Desserts and Cakes, Dim Sum.
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Categories : Café | Burgers and Sandwiches

For full review please visit: http://www.makeyourcaloriescount.com/2014/02/sg-ronin-cafe-with-no-signboard-and-menu.html

Ever since I moved to Singapore from Hong Kong early this year, I have been missing bits and pieces of Hong Kong. A friend who I've known for more than a decade visited me recently and since she had visited all the tourist-worthy places of Singapore, we decided to settle for a cafe that has no signboard, no food and drink menus, no website and no telephone number located along the Hongkong Street and started our never ending conversations.
The same folks behind The Plain and The Bravery, opened their third cafe "Ronin" in Singapore and the name actually refers to a samurai with no lord or master. When we walked in we were ushered by a friendly staff to our table. The rather dark and mysterious atmosphere led me to ask the staff, "What is the name of this place?", just to make sure that I am at the right place.

After we sat down, the same friendly staff came to take our orders. Our natural reaction was to request for the drinks menu but he replied that they don't have a drink menu and he started listing the various drinks they serve. Personally, I find that it is quite a tedious affair for customers to carefully listen and spot what we want through his long sentence. We ended up ordering a cup of flat white and green tea.

 
After taking our drink orders, I further asked for a food menu. Again, he claimed that they don't have a food menu and began mumbling his long list, this time it's a lot harder as the list contained a lot more ingredients and it's just like playing a memorising game. At last, my friend was quite impatient and decided on the first one he mentioned which was all-day-breakfast. Not criticising on his service nor not having a cafe menu, but rather it would be more appreciated if they can inform us beforehand that they don't have food and drink menus.
All-day breakfast - S$9/-

 
The moment when the dish was served, I was quite surprised with the variety of food that was on the plate. While I should be seeing some mushrooms, sausages, tomatoes, etc that an all-day breakfast should contain, I only saw scrambled eggs and three different slices of bread that were made with different ingredients. Surprisingly, the toasted bread went perfectly well with the half-cooked silky soft creamy scrambled eggs especially when you consume them together. I must say they looked very simple but everything was done correctly. However, does the price of $9 do justice on the quality and quantity of food?

Flat White - $4.20/-

 
I was amazed by the beautiful latte art that was served in front of me. Ronin brews the same Genovese coffee blend as the other two cafes and I particularly loved the full bodied brew with balanced acidity and bitterness in the coffee which were neutralised by the velvety milk.

Green Tea - $5/-

 
I didn't get to try the green tea, but my friend said it tasted like normal tea.
We visited after the peak lunch period on a weekday but surprisingly the cafe was almost full. The patrons who came to order their brew seemed to be really familiar with the place and were not quite half as clueless as us when we first step foot into the cafe.

 
I went to the cashier without knowing how much the food and drinks were, and we were actually asked by the staff about our orders. I can't imagine how the cafe would survive during its peak hours as it would be super labour intensive when the staffs have to repeatedly explain their menu and forget what the customers have ordered which I think this is not cost efficient at all. They seriously need to look into this issue. Nevertheless, Ronin is a cafe worth visiting in terms of food and drink quality, especially for the working adults who work around the area to treat as a little getaway from the hustle and bustle of their work stations.
 
Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : Noodles

We were quite surprised when a new place popped up near our hood, along the row of shophouse that my colleagues and I walk past quite often, even more so when it's the super hyped up Kin Kin Chilli Ban Mian. We'd previously thought that it was just gonna be another one of those usual noodle places we see, just in an air-conditioned place.
So with the crazy crowds during its first two weeks, we'd decided to drop by when one of our colleagues told us there was no queue at all! Yes indeed, when we went at about 1.30pm, there was plenty of space to accommodate us when we'd asked for 8pax seating.
There was a whole row of menu in front, with mee hoon kueh, you mian, etc, but we were told that only their signature was available. So the only choice we had to make was...dry or soup?

Dry Ban Mian ($5)

 
The way to eating this: pop the half boiled egg and mix with their signature chilli so that the noodles are evenly coated. I loved how the chilli wasn't overwhelming and had the aroma of the roasted chilli, with not too much chilli oil. It was one that grew on slowly rather than a searing spice that burns.
The minced meat had also been braised to add the savoury flavour to an otherwise plain dish. Great if you can take spicy food, else it'd have been just a plain noodle dish.
It took about 15mins wait for the noodles to be served and while mine had a perfectly poached eggs, it was inconsistent for the other bowls that came after.

Ban Mian Soup ($5)

 
The soup version was pretty much the same, more savoury though it probably wasn't the best kind to mix in with their chilli that was the essence of dining here.

 
It hit the parts on the taste and was an above-average bowl of noodles, but to queue or specially travel here for that? I'd highly doubt so. Plus, the portion was too small and all of us ended up going for second round lunch at the prata stall next to it. $5 has certainly been a hefty price tag and inflation from its original RM4.60 in KL.
Overhyped and overpriced, go without the expectations of a golden bowl of noodles and it'd make for a more pleasant experience.
 
Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 3  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 2

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Charmed by a true cafe experience Smile Feb 08, 2014   
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Categories : Australian / New Zealand | Café

Please refer to http://www.makeyourcaloriescount.com/2014/02/sg-tobys-estate-charmed-by-true-cafe.html for review complete with more pictures.

It is no trade secret that the cafe scene is extremely vibrant in Singapore but quite frankly, after trying quite a handful of popular places, we have yet to discover 'THE' cafe that is able to deliver a relaxing experience complete with calories-worthy coffee and food. What exactly does one look for when it comes to seeking a cafe experience?

Personally, we feel that the slightly better cafes in Singapore tend to be overcrowded and that kinda defeats the purpose of unwinding down after a hard week at work. Why would I want to face further pressure from waiting diners to free up my table when it was supposedly the place to go to chill? Apart from the crowd, I have always been sceptical about paying some good S$20 for a plate of all-day breakfast which you could pretty much cook it yourself at less than half the price. Does it really make sense?

Toby's Estate was named after the owner, Toby Smith. Driven by passion, Toby accumulated his knowledge and skills from his coffee trail around the world including working on farms in Brazil learning to nurture the coffee plant from seed to harvest, as well as the varying processing methods. Toby also worked with a coffee trading company which enabled him to hone his cupping and grading skills, not forgetting his work as a roaster and barista.

Flat White | S$5/nett

 

 
With a classic latte art, this flat white was a stellar when it comes to taste. Developed by the Australians and New Zealanders in the 80s, flat white is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles) over a single/double shot espresso. It generally has a higher proportion of coffee to milk and typically offered in a smaller serving as compared to cappuccino or latte for instance.

This was perfectly done and easily one of the best we have tried among the various cafes tried! The foam had a consistent velvety texture which overlaid a balanced shot of espresso that had the right levels of acidity and roast.

Iced Mocha Chai | S$7/nett

 
The lady was in an adventurous mood and went for the iced mocha chai. The scent of the cardamom certainly titillated our senses and upon the first sip, the flavours beautifully imploded within. It was quite a bold drink and despite the various elements introduced to the drink, it was well-balanced. The flavours of the coffee and chai came across stronger than the chocolate though but overall, it was an enjoyable drink!

V60 coffee | S$6/nett

 
Elegantly served in a wine glass, this was one of the five special coffee on the 'Slowbar' section of the menu whereby each drink is manually prepared rather than via the espresso machine. Different brewing methods would bring out varying levels of intensity for the light roast coffee beans and being a caffeine addict, I naturally went for the highest intensity, which involved the V60 brew.

How does this ceramic dripper with a gaping hole in the bottom make good coffee? It is all about the right pouring technique which involves coaxing the extraction of solids from the grounds and this calls for a good steady pace of pouring and pattern.

I generally prefer a dark roast as I enjoy my coffee bold but the flavours of this light roast were intricately extracted in that glass. Depending on individual, this rendition would suit the palate of those who crave for a higher level of acidity. It was sharp but not excessive which made it enjoyable.

Toby's Breakfast | S$18.50/nett

 

 
The barn-laid eggs were offered in either scrambled or poached form and we went for the former. Served with espresso maple bacon, cherry tomatoes, sautéed mixed mushrooms and brioche toast, there was no denial that this brought a smile to everyone's faces!

The scrambled eggs were velvety and carried a subtle scent of buttery fragrance though we would have preferred a slightly more intense flavour of the eggs itself. The brioche was perfectly toasted with beautiful grill-lines that imprinted the soft and fluffy bread. The diced mushrooms had a slight truffle scent which was a pleasant surprise. While we appreciated the generous portion of crisp bacon slices, we struggled to find resemblance in flavours to its espresso maple label. There was an interesting twist of sweetness to the savoury bacon with the maple syrup after taste but the punch of espresso was barely evident.

Eggs Royale | S$16.50/nett

 

 
The eggs royale was a recommended dish and while we enjoyed the thick slabs of beautiful smoked salmon atop freshly toasted thick brioche, the poached eggs failed to impress. It was not a far cry from perfection but one of the two eggs served was slightly overcooked on the inside. With a wedge of lemon on the side, it allows diners to adjust the desired level of acidity and tang in that classic Hollandaise sauce. Topping off the dish was that aromatic fresh dill which enhanced the flavours of the smoked salmon.

 
Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, Toby's Estate also provide complimentary Wi-Fi access to customers. It was common sight to spot expats working on their laptops and sipping their cup of fresh brew. All prices quoted on the menu were nett, inclusive of GST and no additional 10% service charge was levied either though tipping is encouraged! Upon settling at our table, we were immediately served two bottles of water which were complimentary as well and we weren't at any point in time pressured to place our orders.

 
There was even a section on the side of the cafe that retails various merchandise such as brew apparatus and even a classic book written by the owner himself, complete with pictures and narration about his exploration journey in the name of coffee.

 
I am by no means a fan of cafes for I find that in most cases, the prices are not appropriately matched by the quality of food, coffee and ambience. A visit to Toby's Estate surely changed my opinion as it was a relaxing experience where I basked in the glory of the Sun through the windows, sipped my coffee and browsed through lifestyle magazines (provided at the counter) catching up to the nearest trend in town.

Our first visit no doubt but surely not our last. Looking forward to my next visit already!

 
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Eggs Royale,Toby's Breakfast,Flat White
 
Spending per head: Approximately $20(Lunch)

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

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Worthy place to visit OK Feb 04, 2014   
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Categories : French | Japanese | Fusion

For full review, please visit http://www.makeyourcaloriescount.com/2014/01/sg-miam-miam-french-artisanal-cuisine.html

Miam Miam is one of the newer artisanal French cafe-restaurants that opened at Bugis Junction in late October last year. Inspired by the grace and charm of kissatens, which means tearoom in Japanese, Miam Miam aims to deliver fresh flavours and ingredients of Japanese cuisine, together with French artisanal cooking techniques. Using only the freshest and sustainable-sourced ingredients, is the queue justifiable?

 
When it was finally our turn at the queue after some 15 - 20 minutes, we were informed that tables will only be issued when all diners are present. We however noticed that there was a table of three ladies who were seated inside only to be joined later by two other friends and placing their orders subsequently. Equality does not always prevail, it seems. Anyhow, when our group was finally complete, we submitted our orders through ticking off a menu. We were advised accordingly that the pastry dishes would require a waiting time of about 40 minutes which I felt was a nice gesture for diners to adjust their expectations and particularly important if they are rushing off for a movie or some other planned activities post-dinner.

 

 
Riz Noir Black Rice (S$16.50/++)

 

 
Riz Noir is the french name for black rice and at Miam Miam, they served an unexpected squid ink rice underneath a buttery-tasting omelette. The eggs were velvety smooth with a strong buttery fragrance. A scoop further revealed the essence of the dish; the rice had a unique colour to it with refined iodized flavour. The squid ink rice was cooked al dente and the texture of the grains was nicely complemented by the smoothness of the overlying eggs. Arguably among ourselves, some felt that the rice was a touch too salty for their liking while personally it was within my acceptable level.

There was quite a generous portion of squid, scallops and prawns in that rice but for a restaurant that takes pride in serving fresh seafood, I was rather disappointed with the quality of the prawns. Overall, the flavours were spot-on and good, particularly the squid which was cooked beautifully to give a nice elastic texture without tasting too rubbery.

Souffle De Nuage (S$15.50/++)

 

 
For those who generally have a preference for cheesy and creamy food, this would suit your palate. Unfortunately, I am not quite a fan when it comes to creamy dishes for I find it satiates my appetite quite easily. Nonetheless, in all fairness, I felt that it was beautifully cooked and there was no denial that upon service, the waft of fragrance from the 'clouds' of eggs and cheese whetted our appetite!

The home-styled ketchup fried rice underneath that cloud tasted pedestrian standalone but when enjoyed with the oozing cheese, it could be quite a savoury mouthful. I would struggle to finish the dish on my own for the eggs and cheese would fill me up by the third or fourth spoonful.

Miam Miam Haze aka London Fog (S$6.80/++)

 
With an impressive name, I found the taste to be a disappointing match to say the least. While I appreciate the efforts to introduce a few elements and flavours in the drink, it seemed too ambitious and the earl grey based tea failed to shine through in its own glory. With steamed milk and homemade vanilla syrup added to the hot beverage, it was ironically like what the name suggested, a hazy and foggy experience for my palate.

This might have an acquired taste on some but it surely did not work well for me. The serving glass for its price does not quite seem to do justice either. My first reaction upon service was, "Uhm...is that it?"

French Toast (S$9.80/++)

 
One key takeaway was I learnt the French name for French Toast - Pain Perdu or so we read off the menu. Starred as one of the key signature desserts, it had an interesting texture to it, quite distinctly different from what I had tried elsewhere.

Miam Miam's rendition tasted more like kueh or snacks made from rice flour or glutinous rice base. Unlike the usual toasts which have a soft and fluffy inside, this was dense and could be quite a filling dessert. Once again, I felt that this could potentially be quite a controversial dish as I know that some people might enjoy the texture for what it is while others, myself included, have a preference for the more traditional French Toasts with fluff.

I could not quite bear to enjoy the cream that was scooped into the shape of ice cream. The cream was rather rich and definitely not reserved for the calories-conscious. Separately, I found myself enjoying this dessert better simply by drizzling the maple syrup over the warm toasts.

Matcha Soufflé (S$10.80/++)

 
There was a beautiful crust to the soufflé as evident with that golden-brown tan on its surface. If you want to take a snapshot, I would advise you to do it immediately upon service as some three to five minutes later, the crust would collapse.

Digging in, I found the taste of matcha lacking. Instead, the viscosity on the inside and the taste awkwardly reminded me of kaya. It was slightly too sweet for my liking though for those with a strong sweet-tooth craving, this might do the job. The preparation and technique was beautifully executed but the taste lacked depth.

 
Interestingly, you could press one of these buttons located at the edge of each table to call for attention from any of the available service crew. They each wear a watch which is synchronized to the alert which gives the assurance to diners that their attention are being valued.

 
Miam Miam offers an open-space concept so while it was fenced off from the public, expect shoppers to stare across your table especially if you are allocated a table at the ends of the restaurant. The vibe set off by the restaurant is one of casual dining but while finishing my meal, I struggled to find outstanding elements of French and Japanese cuisine in the dishes. While we find that it is a worthy place to visit, it might be some time yet before we return for their food. The queue of course would be a strong deterring factor notwithstanding the acceptable prices.
 
Other Ratings:
Taste
 3  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : American | Café

Our impression of cafés has always been about brunch, coffee and pastries. With the ambience often overshadowing the importance of good food, we’re usually sceptical about recommending cafés.

We’ve visited The Basement sometime back when it first started out, and now back again to try out their newly launched menu. Helmed by their new Chef, Yi Yi, who’d graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in London and gained experience at several Michelin-starred restaurants, it was indeed our honour to be able to taste the finely crafted cuisine he’d presented.

Bound by Chef Yi Yi's priorities that lie in taste, texture then followed by presentation, we thought these dishes had been a clear exemplification of his guiding philosophy. Each dish had a well complemented combination and varying textures to break the monotony and each marked the hard work put into its preparation, cooking then plating.
Sweet Corn and Coconut Soup with Black Truffle Oil ($5)

Sweet Corn and Coconut Soup with Black Truffle Oil ($5)

 
First for a starter, we were advised to take it just like a shot. We loved how it was presented in small glasses to show the different layer. Topped with coconut foam, there was a strong coconut taste with every mouthful, though we thought it lacked the punch of the black truffle oil. Lightly sweet with a coconut fragrance, it was smooth and mild to whet your appetite, a combination that went surprisingly well together.
Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Focaccia ($2.50)

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Focaccia ($2.50)

 
Served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dips, it's freshly baked each day with limited quantities. I personally think it was good on its own - crisp on the outside, while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside, with a subtle aroma to accentuate the traditional taste. This was the epitome of simple food joy and while it looked just like any other ordinary loaf, it entailed hard work and dedication to preparation work. Taking pride in the quality of food, this was always served warm to customers.
Eggs Benedict Ib�rico ($14)

Eggs Benedict Ib�rico ($14)

 
This first main was an indication of the high quality of ingredients they pursue, using Ibérico ham to go with those perfectly poached eggs. A prized (and pricey) grade of ham, it’s hardly seen in the pairing of eggs ben. We loved how it gave a better texture and richer taste, to complement the lighter tasting eggs.

The hollandaise sauce was one that took a backseat in this, allowing the star of the dish to shine. We would have preferred more sauce to go, though the overall dish was certainly well-executed with slightly crisp surface of the traditional muffins for base that we love!

Note: The usual portion consists of 2 poached eggs, homemade potato salad and mesclun salad.
Thai Green Curry Risotto with Grilled Mackerel ($13)

Thai Green Curry Risotto with Grilled Mackerel ($13)

 
This is our personal favourite out of all that we’ve tried! Taking an Asian twist to the otherwise boring risotto, it’s bound to excite your tastebuds with the green curry that’s so subtle in the first mouthful yet grows onto you! Complemented with the savouriness of the mackerel and the fragrance of coconut foam, I loved the explosion of flavours in a mouthful, with well thought-out combination that managed to impress! Must-try for the spicy-lovers and if you’re feeling adventurous enough to explore!
Sous-vide Pork Cheek Rag� ($14)

Sous-vide Pork Cheek Rag� ($14)

 
I’m a fan of all things potato so I’d naturally attack the mash first. A personal preference, I liked how it wasn’t entirely smooth, tasting the gritty bits amidst the creamy buttery mash. The pork cheeks though soft to the touch, I felt that it lacked a bit of that fats to make it more tender and smooth.

The pork cheek was cooked by the sous-vide method. For those not familiar with this cooking technique, essentially, the food is sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than usual cooking times which cooks the food evenly without depleting the juiciness of the protein.

This was cooked at 80 degrees for an extensive 12 hours before being served! The accompanying red wine sauce was cooked with an exclusive chef's special pork stock, then reduced to allow the essence and flavours to come across strongly which would suit the palate for those who desire bold flavours.
Cr�me Brulee (Earl Grey Lavender/ Pearl of the Orient/ Hanami)

Cr�me Brulee (Earl Grey Lavender/ Pearl of the Orient/ Hanami)

 
Cr�me Brulee (Earl Grey Lavender/ Pearl of the Orient/ Hanami)

Cr�me Brulee (Earl Grey Lavender/ Pearl of the Orient/ Hanami)

 
Off the menu, we were glad to have a taste of this to complete our sweet tooth cravings that kicked in after every meal! Flavours of tea infused into the otherwise plain crème brulee, it added an element of anticipation and we were surprised how easily these flavours had blended in. Torched right upon serving for that caramelised crust on top, the sharp contrast of textures with the aroma of tea flavours were enough to whet our appetite (for the second stomach).

Tea lovers would need no further introduction of the flavours, and my favourite out of the trio would be Pearl of the Orient. It didn’t come forth as strong as the earl grey lavender, and I liked how the subtle refreshing taste slowly grew on. Light bodied, the soft and slight fragrance went well with the smooth crème brulee.
Cinnamon Roll ($3)

Cinnamon Roll ($3)

 
Baked by one of the owners, this is another popular item on the menu. Don’t let the seemingly thick layer of icing turn you away, just as I was expecting an overly sweet rendition, I was surprised that it struck a fine balance between that and the cinnamon taste. I would have personally preferred the cinnamon taste to be stronger, and the bread to be slightly moister, but still a decent one!

A good cup of coffee makes the night go right and how could we resist when we hear of how one of their owners, Joanne, had actually picked up her barista skills on her own!
Cappuccino ($4)

Cappuccino ($4)

 
On the recommended list, this was done well to bring out the flavour of the coffee beans balanced with the right amount of milk, topped with a bonus latte art! I would have personally preferred a more robust flavour for that caffeine kick, though this was just right for a fix just before bedtime.

 
An unassuming café hidden in the school grounds, we were impressed with each individual's passion and their pursuit for excellence. The new menu had certainly been a well thought through combination of items and the resistance of taking any shortcuts in the preparation of each dish had been admirable. For instance, they actually prepare 4 different stocks in-house every day instead of using stock cubes!

In a laidback café setting, juxtaposed with the people working tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver the best quality possible, we were touched by their passion and persistence in culinary. A place that we would definitely return for more to excite our tastebuds, the only pity would be the unconventional opening hours.

Please refer to http://www.makeyourcaloriescount.com/2014/01/sg-basement-cafe-dedication-and-passion.html for the original full review.

 
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Eggs Benedict Iberico,Thai Green Curry Risotto with Grilled Mackerel,Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Focaccia
 
Other Ratings:
Taste
 5  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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