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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 : French | Bakery

For a full story coverage and pictures; please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/09/nick-vina-artisan-bakery-singapore.html

It's a painful fact that not everyone is bestowed with a perfect baking skills. It could be in your blood or you acquired them through extended years of hardship. The job of a true baker is often laborious, with repetitious kneading and knocking the dough all day which cannot be completely replaced with the help of a machine. The willingness to put up with the intensive physique exhaustion came from the the passion and love they have that grow exponentially. Nationality does not differentiate the quality of their bakes but their devotion will.

While I rejoiced in the sprouting of many new European bakeries, I have vehement desire for local bakers who do away with large-scale productions. But the truth is such that my yearning has not been quite fulfilled by the limited number of distinguished local bakers who emphasize on handcrafted bread. Among the few, Chef Nick Chua is one (no preferential treatment notwithstanding that we bear the same surname..aw).

Nick, who had his training in Germany, had spent some years working in a small but reputable bakery shop in Hanover. He returned to Singapore, bringing with him the competency in crafting delicious artisan bread to serve his fellow countrymen that includes myself.

Typically, I am more delighted by the French baguette, Honey oat loaf and Granny sticks. Most renowned bakers would agree that it has been a challenge to maintain the crisp quality of the bread in Singapore, given its high humidity environment. This problem can only be reversed when I pop my baguette back to the oven for a quick toast. Apart from reviving its crispiness to relish at, I get to sniff the aroma from fermented yeast as I bite into the chewy crumb. This may not be the best french wand but it was a good one to have. More heart-warming one, the honey oat loaf. A huge block of mass is masked with rolled oats; looked stiff but is amazingly soft when you slices them. Faintly sweetened with honey, it starts your day sweeter than you ever imagined. If you want something savory instead, try the Granny sticks. It has a sharp cheesy flavor that probably could rouse your taste buds, but the missing crispiness is something that I hope to see in future.

On the sweeter side, Nick has brioche, sweet rolls and raisins buns to offer; of which I enjoyed the panettone with the merrily feel. This Christmas bread is definitely not the usual cupola shaped with a dome-like top structure. Here, it is a flat loaf but generously studded with mixed candied orange peels, raisins and lemon zest. Unlike the traditional ones that come with a dry texture, Nick's version is a lot more fluffier and cushiony; the way the Japanese baker crafts. Instead of heavily sugared, Nick showed mercy by keeping it to a minimal yet yielding a rich and flavorful creation.

To end your lunch, you may want to try their cakes. I haven't had a time for that though I wish I could return soon. So, for now, if you happened to give it a shot, do let me know if they are as good as they appear? I can only drool over photographs of them now. They are the creations of pastry Chef Vina Wang who partnered Nick in the business (that spells the name of the bakery: Nick Vina). I am seeing chocolate range like the Royale, Plaisir, Sacher, then the Nostaglia which is an earl grey infused cake and a fruity Raspberry mousse cake. Lemon tarts are also on display for someone who loves something tangy. With so many options, I believe one of them will hit the spot. If it doesn't, do let me know!

 

 
 
Date of Visit: Sep 26, 2012 

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 3  |  
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 3  |  
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 3  |  
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 3

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Categories : Bars/Lounges | Hotel

For a full story coverage, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/10/lobby-court-shangri-la-hotel-singapore.html

The night was made more memorable by a groovy and forceful pipe that filled the air with beautiful tunes. Gillian Margot, the most prominent Toronto-based Jazz vocalist best known for her exquisite deep vocal, has been making her live debut at the hotel for the past 6 months. Her warm charming voice soothes any tiring day and inhibits symptoms like any Amitriptyline did. Catching her performance at the lobby court is quite an unforgettable experience.

The crowd starts to swell by nine while I arrived early that evening. I filled my stomach with a limited range of mains, not complaining since people don't normally eat their dinner at such places. Out of the 7 choices, I picked the first on the list - Penne Artichoke, a vegetarian pasta dish. If you prefer a hearty meal, try either the Club Sandwich or Steak Burger. Alternative, choose Lasagne or some leafy salads available.

Astonishing a good Italian basic. I have eaten quite a fair bit of pasta dishes at The Line but none of them impressed me. Though I figure it came from the same buffet kitchen at the basement, it was cooked perfect this time round. The Penne was boiled al dente, retaining its full prime character - springy. I gave a quick toss to coat each pasta with the rich and tangy tomato sauce. The rest of the staple ingredients includes briny Gaeta black olives, sweet baby onions but the bright spot lies in the artichoke! Plentiful of marinated artichoke hearts are found swirling the parsley filled tomato sauce, very vinegary and more flavourful than any of its companion found in the plate - so blissful.

To honour my greed, I had a plateful of golden browned potato wedges. I tempered them with some sweet onion dip which fair better than the sour cream accompanied. Additionally, I poked them into mini jar of Australian imported ketchup for a more down-to-earth flavour.

By this time, I am half way with the cuban highball. Packed in fresh mint and lime wedges, the rum is more potent than the one I had at Salt tapas & bar. The latter was slightly virgin in nature, almost zeroizing its alcohol content. Lobby Court's punch was a lot more impactful. The Long Island iced tea was still too complex to win me over.

Strangely, I enjoyed the Indo nibbles that night. Most of the time, I am into nuts and peas but here, they served savory peanut crackers - rempeyek, Muruku and chilli tapioca chips. A mixture of something not quite commonly seen in bars.

 

 

 
 
Date of Visit: Oct 02, 2012 

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 4  |  
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 5  |  
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 4  |  
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 4  |  
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 4

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Categories : Bakery

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

For 3 years now, it seems to me that there are new breakfast parlors & coffee joints opening every month. All-day-breakfast and coffee tasting (surpassing wine tasting these days) becomes suddenly fashionable. Many are made to rediscover the art of coffee drinking and cultivate the new societal norm of brunching. No one could be spared.

While some are untroubled by queues, others like myself, gets irk by it. Those that comes with a long line, therefore needs either entice me with real stuff or delude me with some marketing gimmicks which I may fall trap at times. With a bit of luck, one could still find authentic flavourful eatery without having to join the crowd in the bustling street of Orchard - but allow me to echo; "that's when you are in luck." Betting at it, I seek out the less congested spot in downtown.

Nestling along a quieter lane at Killiney road, this 5-year-old deli-bakery shop is a stone away from the signature kaya toast at Killiney Kopitiam. I remembered savoring the optional coconutty kaya jam & that slightly salted slab of butter that cuddle 2 slices of warm French toast and washed down with a cup of old-fashion brewed coffee. And today, I met with Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux for a similar nostalgia experience - no queue absolutely.

I enjoyed its unpretentious makeup with sturdy wooden dining furnitures, withholding some traditional elements. The well-ventilated shophouse is most welcoming. But more inviting is the lady behind the baking countertop who was once the executive pastry chef at Saint Pierre who struck out on her 5 years ago. This baker - Audrey has tempt patrons with her homemade sweet cinnamon loaf, butter cake, walnut raisin bread. Some make their way there for the affordable breakfast sets (nett prices). I hear them, and so I turn up.

I was greeted with a firm but friendly tone, the moment I stepped into the shop. The place was empty at 2pm on a Saturday. I quickly pick up the menu placed in an acrylic holder against the wall. Without delay, I went up to the payment counter to make my order and pay for them. The cake choices in the glass shelving were narrow - forget about having any fanciful slices, Audrey bakes traditional confections.

The burger bap arrived with a loud bang. The sizeable bun came with an authentic softness with an easy to chew texture and airy interior, nothing more. The salt-cured beef slices didn't taste too briny but a little too greasy. Instead of assembling them into a à la mode burger, I forked the sunny side-up and get excited watching the yolk exploding in all direction atop the bap. The result was a moist and eggy bread combo. Unimpressed, the baked bean stood motionless on the plate. Though it didn't wow me greatly, I appreciate the homely bread offered.

2 slices of thick wholemeal bread helped fix one's hunger pangs. I feel the crust crackling apart as it revealed large to medium air pockets in the crumbs. I figured that I tasted too many well-baked European breads these days that the ones I had here failed to surprise me further. The set came with some crisp bacon strips and a pool of scrambled egg - moist but bland disappointment. The stalk of romaine looked out of place on the plate; too little to call it salad, too bulky on its own - I don't understand. Still, I am pleased by the customer-oriented gesture here. I feel good not for the cappuccino but the biding good-bye when you make your exit to the door.

 
 
Date of Visit: Oct 04, 2012 

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 3  |  
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 3

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Categories : French | European | Hotel | Restaurant

For a full story coverage and pictures, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/10/amuse-by-armin-leitgeb-singapore.html

I enter the restaurant with the eye-catchy signage above me - the thought of a handwriting font against a grey background, printed on a "sponge art board" looks very cool. I am attracted by the clever combination of colour scheme that dressed this 3-weeks old.

The pessimistic grey blends well with the optimistic red, the combo radiates a cool and warmth persona. This led me to a more closed up examination as I stepped into the main dining hall. Keeping its sexy hue, the red now married a darker pigmentation - Black.

Truly, the red reminds me of the triband of the Austria flag and the 2 bull paintings on the wall are most impressive. I can't help but wonder if the Austrians behind the Esmirada Group are fans of the FC Red Bull Salzburg, can my guess be any close? The sturdy caesar-stone bar counter joined the alley of the opened-kitchen where the chef could bewitched his diners with his kitchen weapons.

With a nice view of the passerby strolling down the street of Orchard, Katharina unveiled the Restuarant Week menu gracefully. The menu came with a surprise that the 3 small plates will be featuring dishes that includes fish, sausages and poultry. Like many others, 3-courses during the Restaurant Week would mean a starter; commonly a soup/vegetarian salad, a main meat course and a dessert. For a lunch menu like this, a $25++ is a steal at Amuse.

Today, I am greeted by a spectrum of light and hearty small plates. I enjoyed tapas fare a great deal these days, especially when I get to savour fine ingredients. By virtue of fine, I am saying it has to be fresh produces which needn't whipped up by Michelin-starred chef but one who needs uphold his/her ethicalness in the profession. All that glitters is not gold, likewise, not all prized-delicacy like caviar pleases every palate. Fresh produces are key to a successful dish than one tries hard to appeal diners with culinary physics.

Fish and Chips? What's comes to mind? Of course, the popular English dish that serves up crisp battered fish fillets with golden chunky fries. But not Amuse. The ingredients are named but not using the same preparation method you once know. The Norwegian salmon was sweet and oceanic on its own, but flavoured your taste buds a mile further with a touch of black pepper and herbs. The painstakingly sliced (the machine did the handwork but I thought they do feel the chore as well) potato replaces the usual straight-cut fries. These crisp paper-thin potato chips are fried till deep brown but without that annoying burnt or bitter after-taste. My palate is then cleansed with a mouthful of mixed French mesclum greens tossed in light vinaigrette.

Next came the most memorable Austrian home-cooked dish. Any Austrian will know the recipe to this humble "left-over" dish just as the Chinese will do the same on Day 2 of Chinese New Year. The pan-fried Charlotte potatoes were small but all very buttery. They help averaging out the robust and flavourful chorizo sausages with a tinge of sweetness from the aromatic leaves - Marjoram. Groest'l which is synonymous with Roast, is a nice dish that lingers with happiness especially when one forked the runny egg yolk - a gooey mixture.

The final dish was more criminal! It was a dish that soothes my entire soul within a quick 15 seconds. The most mesmerising moment blazes, the minute I bite into this youthful French bird. I hardly come by such a tender substance, I tasted freshness in the meat. This baby chicken was well-roasted, the yellowish hue on the skin says it all - corn-fed. I don't usually gnaw at bird skin, but its crispness accelerated my intense desire for more calories-laden layers if given in excess. So isn't it criminal?

Go wild by the range of global tastes and be sure to pick a few Austria-influenced humble but tasty dishes that are mostly affordable. With more than 300 types of Austrian wines available, you will be spoilt for choice. Even if eating and drinking form part of one's objective here, I believed you will equally get charmed by the luxurious Gaggenau showroom in Amuse kitchen - a collection of both quality & beauty that helps perfecting the menu to create a greater bonding opportunity with all diners - the philosophy of Chef CK, Lee. I hold the same belief on what a meal means to me - a plate of fresh elements with a great host is all I needed. Thanks to the team and CK.
Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

 

 
Baby Chicken

Baby Chicken

 

 
 
Date of Visit: Oct 07, 2012 

Other Ratings:
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 4  |  
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 4  |  
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 5  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Fabulous fluffy breads Smile Aug 01, 2012   
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Categories : Bakery

I love these Hong Kong style bread; most were unpretentious with a taste very close to what the Cantonese in Hong Kong are capable to offer. For more valid reasons, their ingredients are fresh and they are very reasonably priced.

The highly sought after bread in the store; Hong Kong style BBQ Pork (or char siew) Polo Bun (more commonly known as Pineapple Bun), is to die-for. Something you definitely wouldn't want to miss out every time. The crumbly sugary top - always so divine. Every crumble bits resemble a jewel that you would carefully gather all of them to reload into your mouth, savoring them preciously. The bun, filled with caramelized barbecued bite-sized pork; was soft in texture and very buttery. The meat was tender, moisturized with thick tantalizing barbecue sauce - a taste totally undebatable. As little as S$1.50 each, this polo bun is hard to pass up.
Sweet potato bun

Sweet potato bun

 
Another all-time favorite of mine - Sweet Potato Bun. I admit being a sucker for root vegetables of any kind, as long as it is in its original taste without artificially being modified. The bakery bakes very hearty version, was generous in their sweet potato mash filling. I have tried the same from other bakeries, they were either rolled up with half of what My Bread offers (sometimes the filling was hardly noticeable) or the mash was too cloying. None were tasty to mark any impression until this Chinese bakery came into picture and I am sold. I am stuck to theirs, since. The bun was thinly dust in cinnamon powder, not over powering (I am disgusted by some baker who cosmetically coated their bun with thick cinnamon). The mash was not fibrous but very smooth and naturally sweet - hitting the right spot consistently.
 
Date of Visit: Jun 17, 2012 

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

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