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biba8169
This is biba8169 . I like to hang out in City Hall, Tanglin, Orchard. French, Italian, Japanese, American are my favorite cuisines. I also love Restaurant, Bakery, Café, cakes, muffins, strawberries, coffee.
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Categories : Japanese | Buffet

For a full story coverage, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/kiseki-japanese-buffet-restaurant-singapore/

I am not a typical fan of buffet-style meal but I am happy to have it once in a while. And specially when the group is large, I can rest assured that each of them will find something fanciful among the 8 self-help stations. This is achievable, given the mega spread Kiseki is offering. Not sure if its a blessing, but close to 40% of the range are non-Japanese cuisines. While the Japanese dishes still make up the majority, I am one of those weirdo who only eye for that fluffy looking deep pocketed batter cake resting on the iron rack. For all you know, I am dotty about waffles.
waffles

waffles

 
In my view, a buffet feast equates a marathon participation. Just as the gun sounded, I find myself derailed and taking shortcuts to the finishing line – dessert station. There, my eyes are fixed at the lady behind the waffle maker, counting the number of waffle wedges she is dishing out and eye balling frantically for condiments for a switch up. Fresh fruit dices -nope. Candy rice – nope nope. Jellied puddings, mochi and Daifuku – nope nope nope. Until I reached the chilling box with 6-8 flavours of gelato – yes; black sesame, green tea & vanilla checked. Then that chocolate fondue drizzles – again marked! They are invited to join me at my table.

 
Not to worry if waffles didn’t wow you, there are bite-size green tea azuki and cheese cakes to make you smile too.

After the off-track, I joined the rest on the official route – pacing up and down the counters, examined each food items closely. I picked a few sizable tempura from the Agemono sub-section – ebi, kani stick & yasai (broccoli), all tasted fresh and crunchy of which, I liked the vegetable most. Okay, crowned me a vegan if you like.

 
Then slightly to the right, there are Teppanyaki & Robatayaki where you find monstrous grilled salmon fish heads, shishamo, baby tender chicken teriyaki sticks and grilled plumply shitake mushrooms. Towards the end of the row, I ordered some wok fry assorted vegetables, mostly bean sprouts with a few stringy choy sum – not bad though I’d prefer marche’s. My girlfriend ordered a portion of Teppanyaki pork collar in ginger sauce which I thought was pretty delicious, moist and very tender, not fibrous and the seasoning was just right. The cook done it better than the garlic beef steak which tasted leathery. Oh, please bring along those table-numbered mini file clips found on your table when ordering so that the wait staff could send the food when it’s ready.

 
Walk around the bustling see-through kitchen, another row of food items revealed. At the left-hand corner, you could order Italian pasta of 3 choices – Wafu vinaigrette dressing, creamy carbonara or konkase tomato sauce; alternatively, pick up a ready thin-crust pizza with teriyaki chicken, Japanese curry or seafood toppings. Potato-goers could give the Rösti a shot, its shredded surface was pan-roasted to crisp but it lacked that robust buttery flavour I used to know.

Stroll along and you get to reach out to more fried items like potato ebi rolls, cheese crab balls, seafood Croquettes, Haru Maki (spring roll) seafood. Next, I flipped open the steamer cover and help myself to the hearty winter dish – Japanese oden with plentiful of squishy quail eggs, fish cakes with hidden popping fish roe, perfectly stewed daikon, glutenous konjac (greyish starch corms) and the most delightful Kinchaku pouch - deep fried bean curd wrapped with fish cake. I enjoyed the light soy sauce broth that makes everything taste homely.

 
While I skipped the egg plants and roasted chicken, I took a bite on the Japanese curry udon placed along the next counter. I am glad that the udon didn’t taste overly soggy but the curry seasoning was a bit loud, somewhere didn’t fare quite right. I heard the pork shabu ramen did better. Well, I was unlucky then.

You may want to try out Chawanmushi or Tamagoyaki in the bamboo tray plus a bowl of steaming hot seafood soup. Or simply walk to the adjacent counter for some cold seafood selections – chilled prawns & mussels or clams, salads, soba, sushi and sashimi.

With so much to offer, what else could make my people über happy? I don’t know.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 23, 2012 

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 3  |  
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 3  |  
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 3

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Categories : Italian | European | Restaurant | Pasta | Kids-Friendly

For a full story coverage and more pictures, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/covelli-italian-bistro-wine-bar-singapore/

When was the last time you set foot in an Italian restaurant – any chance of it recently? I cannot remember mine but quite certain I haven’t had for a good few months. I relished most of the pasta dishes cooked in the kitchen of some fusion restaurant. These days, I cannot stop my counts on the number of new sprung eateries, mostly fusion and almost far from its root of origin. Should we be overjoyed at the trend? Or get upset over the lost authenticity. I don’t know.

Everyone has their inner most to feed – some prefer the traditional cuisines whilst there are those who cannot do without a twist to the original. Whichever group you belong to, a meal is a meal that critically measures the suitability of that moment in time. Do you agree with me that at times, your mood plays a part in deciding your most desired choice, a psyche dish to bring solace.

I accept the culinary creativity of today’s chef – ranging from an independent classic dish or a union between the Japanese & Italian heritage. I applaud at their bold magical stint in the making, their willingness to rediscover things that they have been taught, perhaps during their apprentice days. It is very encouraging to see them breaking away from the norm to please the crowd who is becoming more finicky in today’s world. Though I believe in Italian dishes cooked in its old traditional way, I welcome younger chefs who practice neoclassicism to woo diners with cutting edge menu - Covelli Italian Bistro & Wine Bar, is a pit stop to seek reminisce of true Italian taste (I thought but turned out otherwise) with a contemporary twist.

The restaurant week, a bi-annual event in Singapore (March & October); coax me into dining at Covelli.

Deeply rooted at the basement of Orchard Central, Covelli has cooked for many for the past 1 year. You wouldn’t missed the iconic laddering escalator along the mall’s exterior, very architectural. A direct route access to level 4 and higher level where most restaurants sit. But those who are frightful of heights, please stay away and use the elevator in the mall instead.

I am greeted by a friendly serving staff who led me into the restaurant that comes with an alley, separating the main dining area and a more private meal room joining the bar area. My table sits privately along the stone-featured wall, bathed in mood lighting with a dazzling but modest chandelier above. I rest comfortably on the padded chair, feeling the velvet seat cover on my skin. The male server who attends to my area was alert and ready though I wish having no one staring at me round the clock from a distance. Having said, I still appreciate his presence around me.

He showed me the menu designed for the restaurant week which prior to this, I have seen.

 
I was smitten by the creamed stock with artichoke and eggplant finishing. The spoonful of crab cheese cream inject a delicate touch. The addition of the black truffle oil perfumed the soup with a bit more fragrant while the croutons gave a crusty bites that awakened the jaw muscle cells.

 
The tuna carpaccio was far from my expectation yet the lime sorbet excites me greatly. The kamquat oil creates a light acidity which helps to mask the fishy taste in the paper-thin sliced tuna. The meat taste uniquely different from the usual tuna sashimi I had in any reputable Japanese restaurant – if you get my point. The dish has loads of zing in it, if not for the tuna.

 
With only 2 options in the main, we ordered both for exploration. The pork is braised in root beer until it becomes wobbly. This resulted in a moist and shattered meat. The lean portion is seen clad in between thick jellied fats that allows an almost creamy texture. Excellent eaten in small bites but to wolf down 2 massive slab like that was clearly a challenge – for a lady. The spinach gnocchi (in Pork dish) and calamari ink spatzel (in fish dish) was identical in texture. Both tasted rubbery and sterile. I remember mopping up flavorful gravy of coq au vin with the spaetzel at db Bistro Moderne but not here. The dish didn’t allow me as it was served dry and so, the glutenous morsels remained flavorless except its faint cheesy elements. I guess they exist to fill the empty gastric cavity.

 
If you insist asking what the Pan-seared Nile Perch resembles, it will be a home-cooked dish which my mum used to whip up every dinner. The deep fried fish was the least unusual to any taste buds. The crackling fish skin helps accentuate joy in eating the seemingly humble dish. I liked the fish for its freshness and appreciate the sea-urchin mango flavoured mousse for that gentle shake on my shoulder.

The Italian feast didn’t rock my palate, but it ended with a sweet note.

Pretty to admire, the plating was attractive. It reminds me of the flourishing spring with a touch of petal embellishments. Purple, yellow, pinkish hues whisper melodically, at one time chorusing and inviting me to join in. The cake – pigmented in gutsy red, was a pure enjoyment. Made using highly nutritious beet, I am more than pleased to take on a few more mouthful. I had expected it to taste earthy and raw, but was impressed by its fabulous end result. I loved the natural flavour from the beet and the extremely moist cake texture it yield. It was quite disturbing at first to learn that the cake was made using olive oil as I didn’t like the idea of tasting sharp olive oil in my dessert. I was surprised that there was no traces of it but a subtle sweetness from the garden beet. Chunks of chocolate mascarpone are making the dessert even more addictive and bits of those dark chocolate shavings were not wasted as well. Everything was packed in harmony and deposited in my almost exploded gastric pocket. Though sinful, I would definitely eat more of it for a youthful look if the claim for anti-aging benefit in the beet is valid.

If my maiden attempt at Covelli didn’t convince my palate, its service team won me over. I am prepared to return for a proper selection from its menu and most critically – it is the Dark Chocolate Lava cake that is waving at me!

Let your taste buds decide if you had an enjoyable Italian meal, at least I had a fine dessert to make it up.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 18, 2012 

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

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Still hit the right spot! Smile Oct 15, 2012   
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Categories : Bakery

How can you tell between a baker who live to bake and someone who bake to live? A simple one liner like this sometimes requires a series of complex analysis. But Ms. Mary Chan, 34; didn't complicate matters, her muffin says it all. There is no reason for me not to believe that she loves to bake and making good muffins for everyone forms part of her mantra.

The former pastry cook from Mandarin Oriental and supervisor at The Fullerton, started her first pastry outlet in the heartland - Shunfu Mart a decade ago; Chocolat N' Spice becomes the talk of the town. As the never ending queue grew, the business expanded into CBD and central part of Singapore. It continues to draw crowds that includes executives in office attire, SAHMs and many sweet-tooth. I had my maiden attempt in 2009 and was impressed until today. I do not sing praises for the sake of good readership, neither am I a devotee of muffins; but these small "mushroom" cakes are really good stuff.

Yesterday was my second time, having Chocolat N' Spice muffins - a 3 years gap. Little did I expect they still delight me the same way before. There is consistency in her baking, undoubtedly. These freshly baked muffins were as delicious as 3 years ago, I am glad that I had 6 fuming hot ones to takeaway.

Coffee walnut - S$1.40: The batter was amazingly moist and not overly buttered. It has a spongy texture and you could see very fine tiny air pockets in the cake, the batter must have creamed thoroughly. (unlike huge air pockets in others but not as soft) It has a very captivating mocha scent and flavor, sweet but not cloying. Each mouthful was filled with coarse pieces of walnut - absolutely nutty. In fact, all the muffins have the same texture which was so enticing to all.

 
Banana walnut - S$1.20: the ripe banana mash permeated in my mouth, sweet and longing. The walnut bits heightened the texture with crunches. I liked how she baked the muffins that yields a light crispy shroomy cap.(a brush of syrup in between the bakes?) The cake, again was moist and squashy.

 
Double-Chocolate - S$1.40: one of the popular. Chew on the cake, and you have to agree that she didn't compromised on the quality of the chocolate. For a dollar more, you get to appreciate a moist and intense cocoa scent. The rich and velvety flavor lingers in my mouth, I'd know one was never enough. Look at how the cake bloomed? Who wouldn't yearned over this mushroom cap?

 
Pumpkin - S$1.20: Nothing notable, except for its gratifying cake texture. There were wee pumpkin shreds in the cake, but it didn't have a pronounced taste.

The prices have not been increased dramatically, given the soaring raw food prices over the years. Barely 20cents different (I used to get them at S$1.10 for some), I am more than happy to reward them for their baking effort and making my day a pleasant one.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 15, 2012 

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

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Categories : Hawker Centre | Dim Sum

For a full story coverage, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/10/tiong-bahru-pau-singapore.html


Originating from the Guangdong province of China (my grandfather was from China), these Chinese buns were made from milled rice flour, stuffed with diced BBQ pork tenderloin. They are one of the popular dim sum snacks these days and the nostalgic take-away versions are from Tiong Bahru Pau and Teck Kee. The buns are mostly steamed but there are baked alternatives. I am accustomed to the steamed ones since young.

The sizable chicken bun is always so gratifying. Without a trace of stickiness on the root of your palate, the skin was marvelously soft and not overly thick. You will find chunks of fresh chicken meat with a touch of ginger, soy sauce and a bit of Chinese rice wine. Nope, no egg was stuffed in there unlike other places where Big steamed buns do. Without that extra calories, I could eat them with ease.

The memories of my grandfather starts flowing when the stall-holder pickup that vapouring BBQ buns from the steam tray. It was a complete solace. The act of unfolding the skin to reveal the glazed ingredients was equally heart throbbing. With the roasted pork so well browned and glossy looking, I couldn't wait any longer to taste the sweet oyster seasoning in the meat. The candied mixture add so much flavour to the tender pork, every time with the right consistency. Watching the laving juices wetting my fingers and dripping down my wrist is visually appealing. Did you feel the joy?

I will never stop at the savory even though the sweet ones seem to attract the older crowd more. My grandfather was one of the avid fan of the bean-paste filled buns. The shiny smooth white exterior hides a pool of creamy red bean paste. For a less sugary variation, go for the lotus paste which came with robust lotus seeds flavour that was flowy as well. It was mind rupturing each time I sank my teeth into the fluffy bun to penetrate the fillings. Truly unimaginable.
Char Siew Pau

Char Siew Pau

 
Red bean paste bun

Red bean paste bun

 
Lotus Paste Pau

Lotus Paste Pau

 
Big Chicken Pau

Big Chicken Pau

 
 
Date of Visit: Oct 11, 2012 

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

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High tea among the oasis Smile Oct 10, 2012   
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Categories : Multi-Cuisine | Hotel | High Tea | Buffet

For a full story coverage and pictures; please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/09/rose-veranda-shangri-la-hotel-singapore.html

While many are crowding the heart of downtown Singapore, I am feverish for some sweet treats in the oasis. What best to rejuvenate your taste buds and give it a thorough cleanse during this blazing period? I figure that tea is the most ideal, given the all year tropical weather especially the microwaving climate these days.

Away from the bustling downtown, I sit myself in the most relax fashion overlooking the tranquil lobby court. I have been reminded umpteen times to accept bills from other high-tea venues, equally crowd-pleasing. I wish I could accede to these superficial requests, each time having tug-of-war deep within. But after a few tries, I just know which one caresses my heart genuinely and makes me sniff my way "home". I could never trade the good feel it brings, not even with a bucket of gold.

Even if one is not emotionally attached to a particular place, I am quite sure some fine offerings here are capable of luring new patrons. I am so used to that "family"-warmth vaporizing the mezzanine floor until recently, I find it missing. New faces replaced those familiar ones, the bonding somehow has broken bits. A newer team has evolved that more often requires a bite more time to shine in their service. I am most willing to excuse the slipped knowledge I encountered (I will not try conceal any service lapse, even for places I love dearly), if extra efforts are put in - this, I shall reassess during my next visit. Likewise, let the food speaks without disguise.

The Rose Veranda sits on the mezzanine floor, above the sedating lobby court. The L-shaped lounge greets its guest in a mellow and unhurried manner, displaying counter-long hot savories, finger foods and salads. For easy reference, I class them into 5 sections. Start off the left; help yourself to the small Japanese station with sushi and fresh sashimi displaying neatly in the enclosed shelving. Moving on to the right, you will meet the East with pleasing dim sum range - baked puffs and mini pies, stuffed with moist and well marinated BBQ meat fillings. Gently lift the steam bamboo tray, you will be delighted by some juicy Siew Mai (pork dumplings) and think starch skin Har Gow (shrimp dumplings).

After a few dim sum snacks, the taste buds become peppy and ready to welcome 2 sections of mouthwatering hot savory, separated by a cold station with salads and finger sandwiches.

There are 8 hot dishes, each waiting to be unleashed by hungry goers. I am pleased by a few most of the time, sometimes the Chinese with the Muslim cooking at other times. This time I find the braised Chinese noodles most enjoyable, each strands is evenly coated in glossy dark sauce with a balanced flavor. I liked its less soggy texture with a bit of bite in it. While the chunky chicken parts clad in a spicy thick coconut curry sauce, the beef rendang is milder and a little chewier in texture. I wish the beef could be more fork-tender and less fibrous. If the noodles is outstanding, the Peking duck is even more marveling. Prepared by Shang Palace, this signature imperial dish is one that I will eat every other day. It is prized with fatty crisp skin covering thick layer of moist and tender duck meat. Choose a drumstick for a juicier meat. Here, it is eaten without pancake wrap and spring onions servings. If seafood is your preference, you will find 1-2 fish varieties in deep fried and steamed cooking method.

Leafy options include salads dressed in different Italian ways and of course, some befriended pasta whilst others hit it off with aromatic smoked duck and light fruity morsels. For stir-fry option, the yellow zucchini and cauliflower combination was a good buddy up except that the chef could be more generous with seasoning for a more flavorful touch. Otherwise the taste is flat, only buttery. There is always a self-serving corner that one would whip up a quick noodle dish. It could be the spicy noodle cooked the Peranakan way - Laksa or the flavorsome Prawn noodle soup. Occasionally, the starchy potato-peanut gravy with yellow noodles - Mee Rebus, will surfaced. Depending on luck, the noodle corner is everyone's peep. Remember to fuel up with some good salmon or turkey finger sandwiches before heading to the far right for your sweet servings.

The stand-alone dessert corner is my hideaway - I called it the dessert-tapas corner. I was bewitched by the varieties and the chocolate fountain centerpiece. It's a tough fight but the rich cocoa cake is my darling, I am obsessed with the smooth and velvety dark chocolate ganache that taste not overly sweet.

The popular Durian cake is cottony and creamed with real durian paste between each sponge. Each mouthful is pleasantly thorny (piquant flavor) but not pricking, of course.

I have a soft spot for strawberry shortcake served at Shang, especially a good slice with spoonful of rich decadent Chantilly cream that won't weigh you down.

Pick a few elegant kuehs from the tray, a traditional Nonya cake have more to tell. I had the Kueh Salat with a bountiful supply of coconut flavor embedded within the wobbly custard layer and a savory-sweet blue pea hued glutinous rice bottom. The Lapis Sagu, my most desired snack since young - is always steamed soft and toothsome, unlike those sugar laden ones in the past.

If these are never enough, there are more to pick from the far right corner. That includes scones, crème brûlée, some flashy dessert in shooter cups, ice-cream & sorbet. Definitely some great summer treats with a sweet lingering ending that one finds it hard to resist.

Unless buffet is not your liking, try the tiered English afternoon tea that comes with a few standard nibbles but refillable. They are identically good and you too get to choose one type of tea out of the 100 selections.

With the human-tide easing, are you ready for some champ treats this weekend? After all, the Red Bull's driver has champ the season and I whiff victory in conquering the stations with a smooth sweet ride. The ride is made sweeter with an online reservation - a 15% discount on any day but with a certain allotment each time! So, do plan ahead and book early.

 

 

 

 
 
Date of Visit: Sep 23, 2012 

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

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