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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 : European | Desserts and Cakes | Pasta | Seafood | Salads/ Acai Bowl

For a full story coverage, please visit:
http://www.epinosh.com/table-manners-singapore/

Table Manners - abbreviates TM, is one of the interesting bistro in the newly opened – Changi City Point, a mall sits directly opposite the Singapore Expo MRT station which can be conveniently reached. Cafe Fables and Bar Stories, a cafe-cum-furniture store venture out into a full-fledged restaurant; TM to serve a more varied contemporary Western dishes.

 
I almost lost my way in the mall while trying to locate TM. Without any visible signage and especially difficult when the mall has quite a number of small exits around. I don’t seem to be able to spot the restaurant until I reached the open space – a small garden-like area. There, I saw a black outdoor gazebo dining area with an open counter featuring a prominent “pigeon-hole” backdrop. I knew I have found it and walk right up. I was greeted by a zealous wait staff at the door, who explained the ordering instructions patiently and thereafter showed me to the indoor seats.

 
Entering the dining hall, it is the democratic design that I saw. I could imagine how the people behind TM conceptualized the area, decking out in modernistic Scandinavia-inspired furniture characterized by simplicity and practicality. The “piecemeal” communal table stood out from the space, without looking cluttered. The area was highlighted by the wall shelving with potted plants, retail pieces stuffed in each pigeon holes. Fitted mostly in pressed wood, the room was made less formal with a sense of nature integration. The first thing that comes to mind is Ikea, this group of Swedish makes really sensible tools with a small price tag.

If sirloin steaks, Cajun- style marinated chicken thigh, sauteed mussels, and baked salmon are something that you are after; TM is the place. Lunch is served in a mix-and-match manner, where it comes with 4 main categories; “fibers” – Staples & Vegetables, “protein” – Seafood & Meat. You can choose to have the lightest meal with 3 fibers for $9.50 or the hearty combination of 2 fiber and 2 protein for $19.00. of course, if these ain’t going to fill you, get some add-ons and pay additional $3.50 – $7.50. I customized my plate with a mid-sized combo plus 1 add-on & a dessert to end the meal.

 
The lightly salted Truffle fries are so addictive that I can’t stop but emptied the bowl within a short 10 minutes. Each string was deep fried to crisp and I liked the fact that they are cut fatter than any shoe-strings yet sliced slimmer than the regular straight fries. Smell of comfort, less gasoline taste – a great snack packed in umami-rich aromas. Go for potato wedges if truffle fries seem less idolizing.

 
The Chopped Pumpkin Salad came with a decent portion of fresh greens. Never mind if the diced pumpkin looks miserable, a generous toss of that tangy salad dressing add scores to the boring greens. I was looking for a sweet flavour in the pumpkin but the morsels were too tiny to taste.
Cajun-style chicken thigh

Cajun-style chicken thigh

 
The Cajun seasoning lends a sweet and spicy scent to the sizable chicken thigh. One incision and you witnessed how moist and tender the meat was roasted, with the bursting juices oozing out onto the plate. It was quite close to what I have eaten at Amuse, a delicious piece of bird meat. Other “protein” like beef stroganoff, pork cutlet, pesto fish fillet and burger steak, are available as well. There’s nothing you won’t choose.

 
That additional fiber I had – Spaghetti Pomodoro akin tomato sauce was equally tasty. The pasta had a good boil, yielding a springy bit but it will be perfect if it was cooked Al dente. Every strand was coated in the mildly acidic tomato sauce, fair amount of concentrate yet not overly seasoned. Sometimes when I am really unlucky, I get some bad tasting pasta that either comes with a chunk of soggy noodles or a pool of unpalatable watery sauce. Here, no slipshod piece of work seen.

 
What is a complete meal without a sweet ending? You’ve guess it! A chocolate-caramel war. Undoubtedly, the sweet course didn’t come cheap, ranging from $6.50 – $7.50. But I am willing to foot the price if it tastes divine. I am split between a Strawberry Shortcake and the chocolate tart. In the end, the latter succeeded in talking me over. Fabulous piece of tart. The shortcrust crumbles neatly on my plate each time I forked right through. The highlight was that chilled chocolate fillings – soft and chewy. The cocoa flavour was explosive, so intense. Each mouthful was gooey when the chocolate fused with that sticky caramel substance in the middle. Flavour becomes good when it has a lot of layering and this Sea Salt Chocolate Caramel Tart depicts that – speechless.

 
Coffee addict will not leave TM without a good Papa Palheta dose. The potion was rich, aromatic, not acrid – truly a stimulant. Not a fan on coffee? How about a cup of tea from Tea Forte? And if you are in the mood for some cocktails, they have the so-called popular drinks from Bar Stories presented in 5 groupings, that is, sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and intriguingly to chill you.

Though lesser known by diners, you could pick up anything from this retail-cum-cafe that fits a housewarming gift. Browse the pigeon holes and check with the friendly wait staff if something caught your eyes.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 28, 2012 

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Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Categories : Belgian | Bars/Lounges | Kids-Friendly

For a full story coverage and picture, please join me at the dining table: http://www.epinosh.com/brussels-sprouts-singapore/

 
Not that teeny edible buds that everyone’s knowing, but possibly associate with the capital of Belgium when one talks about Brussels – its largest city. I remember seeing that naked boy peeing into the fountain’s basin, if you can guess who I was referring to. Of course, one has to walked quite a fair bit from the Grand Place (side lane from Brussels Town Hall) to meet this famous bronze statue, wasn’t tall, about your 24″ LCD monitor, measured diagonally. Yes, it’s the famous Brussels landmark of today - Manneken Pis. During my trip to Brussels, I couldn’t recall eating these miniature cabbages which are seemingly popular and may have originated here since early 13th Century. I have no chance to validate if naming this eatery “Brussels Sprouts” has anything to do with its origin since it offers Belgian cuisine, unless Emmanuel Stroobant stands before me.

 
If you are familiar with cable channels, then this “Chef in Black” is no stranger to you. This blond-haired punker who is obsessed with bikes has a long list of achievements under his belt. Started off as a humble dishwasher at 16, this young man worked his way through to his first restaurant - Le Bal in Liege where he lives. He was barely 23. Then he came to the Asia Pacific and won himself several respectable titles/awards and founded Saint Pierre (2000) – his first restaurant in Singapore. A few other awards followed through; Most Innovative Menu 2002, 2004 and 2007, the World Gourmet Summit – Award of Excellence. Today, this ambitious 44-year old manages and provide consultancy to 7 restaurants under The Emmanuel Stroobant Group (with his no. 8th – Brussels Sprouts 3rd outlet coming up at Sentosa Cove); took time starring in the latest AFC Original Production - 36 Ways to Live; and kept himself busy with cookbooks writing. The avid yogi and a believer in eating Organic produces has turned vegetarianism for some health reasons. I don’t know, but I think it’s painful for a chef to abstain from meat eating. Again, with superior culinary skills, a chef will circumvent any restriction in ingredients. Besides, all the 7 restaurants cook with living organisms, each serving its niche cuisines.

Brussels Sprouts at Big Splash is the 2nd outlet following its first at The Pier@ Robertson. It was a distance away from my usual arrival point – the defunct East Coast Park McDonald’s. I missed the area so much that I decided to stroll my way to the Big Splash. It was not effortless. I could feel that blow torch blistering my scalp after that 5 minutes’ walk but I continued.

 
The blazing heat was unbearable! The sun was beaming right into the restaurant - a greenhouse I am entering. Packed with families and couples, dining at Brussels Sprouts on a Sunday afternoon was full of elation. Didn’t want to sprout like a mung bean, I begged for high-table seats next to the bar. It was so much cooler without that see-through glass roofing and well-ventilated with sliding glass doors being pull apart. I would definitely appreciate its architecture during the night, not on a sunny day. It took a while before I no longer feel the heat. With more than 120 varieties of Belgian beer available, it is a common sight to see everyone gulping down a glass of icy cold Hoegaarden – mostly foreigners, while I am with my bubbling cola.

Without delaying, I gave my orders to one of the wait staff who looks so peppy. Not knowing what to do and didn’t want to toy with my phone, I turn to watch the kids running around with their colorful balloons. I enjoyed the causal atmosphere it brings with laughter and cutlery orchestrating in the background. What a lighthearted moment.

 
The food arrives. I had one of the Belgian classics - Moules Frites. The portion was larger than I expected, given a starter at 350 gram (S$20.00). The pot was filled with wedge-shaped, blackish shells, half-drowning in the broth. Each valves split opened fully, revealing its meat body soaking in that savory veal stock made peppery with paprika. The mussels taste fresh, a light ocean scent. Smaller breed, they are slightly chewy but easy to swallow. Perfect. It goes well with the diced chorizo in the broth. Overall, the pot of moules was good, though I find something lacking in the broth – more briny and requires a balanced flavour. Maybe I should just opt for the classic Brussels Sprouts version.

 
What is Moules-Frites when mussels comes without fries? That basket of chunky cut fries is so dominating! Crisp on the exterior, meaty and soft in the middle – my weakness ever. To make it more evil, it was made refillable! Argh… put them to jail, stat!! It reminds me of that tantalizing scent wafting from those thick & fluffy chips served in paper cone, which I happily eating away on the street of Amsterdam!

 
The Fish & Chips (Vis En Frites) going for S$24.00 was monstrous, just as they named it – “Big Eat”. Who hasn’t eaten Fish & Chips in their life!!? I have a few tries in London which I find one that I didn’t quite enjoyed, with skin on. Then some in Europe and then in the United States, mediocre at best. But, this one I find it hard to resist though not at their prime. The batter covering the white fish was deep fried to golden crisp and I wonder if beer has been added to do the trick. When you forked into the nice crisp crust, what you get is a layer of soft, moist and fresh piece of fish meat. Not overly greasy is what I am attracted to. Don’t neglect the lemon wedge, give it a hard squeeze – it makes a different. A handful of hot fluffy chips were laid underneath the big slab of fried fish – dancing with gusto! Dip into any 3 condiment that comes along – hunter sauce, curry tomato, garlic saffron mayonnaise, each steak turned even more globby. A hearty late-night supper treat & you can forget about your next day’s breakfast!

 
To complete the Belgian fare, I thought the Belgian Waffle is not to be missed. I am especially looking for a crispy outside and a creamier interior. I swear this is the first I had. Unlike other ice-cream parlor that serves the American style, this Gauffre evolves between a Brussels and Liège version. Lightly crisp on its top crust, the cake is eggy than anywhere I have tried. It tastes sweeter, has a moist and dense structure. If you were to ask what it resembles, I have to say, very close to a muffin but less rich in taste. Even though the dough is sweet, it complements well with the accompanying vanilla ice-cream which is surprisingly less sugary. If you enjoy sweet and soft masses, then this S$12.00 high grid cake may be your best pick.

If you are keen for a weekend breakfast at the same time watching the coast, Brussels Sprouts at Big Splash serves Sunday Breakfast menu. Only at this outlet, you get to choose between sandwiches, tartines, sausage platter or simply just go with a Brussels Sprouts Breakfast to save your agony in decision making. What a way to sit back and appreciate that short Sunday moment.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Fish & Chips,Belgian waffle
 
Date of Visit: Nov 08, 2012 

Spending per head: Approximately $40(Lunch)

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

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

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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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Categories : French | Restaurant | Pasta

For a full story & more pictures, please read;
http://www.epinosh.com/2012/05/flam-singapore.html

I am excited upon learning that this original French tarte flambée has finally make its way to Singapore on April 2, 2012. Happily, I marked my calender to visit Orchard Central to try them out. Flam's adverts can be visibly seen in the mall, specifically on the escalators leading to Level 2 (next to Jewel Chocolate). Conveniently located a stone away from the escalator, it led me to this accomplished looking place which I best described it as a log cabin.

Flipping through the menu, I ordered my flammekueche one at a time. Bearing in mind the principle that says "to enjoy a hot & crisp flam each time: Make your first order, finish it & send in your second order". I hesitated on my starter but still went ahead with Farmer's Roasted Pumpkin Soup and a cup of Malango long black.

I am thrilled at the sight of the flammekueche coming at my direction. The signature flam's "The French" was served piping hot on a flat wooden board. The thin crust of dough was covered in cheese cap and topped with finely chopped beech smoked bacon and walnuts. I love the way the crème fraîche was introduced with this flammekueche, a touch of sweetness and seen oozing out as I rolled the flam with my fingers. The chef has been generous on the Camembert, I like it softened and flowy when heated. It was mild in taste with mushroom undertone, slightly salty and buttery. It did surprise me.

Near finishing The French, I quickly put in my next order for the sweet version; "The Apple Cinnamon". This was definitely the highlight of my meal. I regretted not eating all the sweet flams, they are so yummy! The scent from the cinnamon completely fills the air accompanied by the nice fire-baked dough aroma, so captivating. You really need to try this. The thin apple slice was able to retained its juiciness despite the intense temperature. I am completely sold!

For a full story, please read; http://www.epinosh.com/2012/05/flam-singapore.html
Apple Cinnamon

Apple Cinnamon

 
 
Date of Visit: May 27, 2012 

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

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