Other Locations

save water drink beer.

there’s something about chef willin low, courtesy of wild rocket/relish. he seems to have mastered the art of singaporean-western fusion, combination local flavors and delicacies seamlessly and splendidly together to form interesting and inspired dishes.

relish by wild rocket, is a scaled version, burger-cafe version of the more atas wild rocket restaurant @ mount sophia. but the chef’s signature dishes and philosophy of asian-western fusion dishes is still very present. sited at myvillage @ serangoon gardens, it is quite the hidden find, but judging by the crowds during lunchtime, it might be quite the open secret.

ambience wise, i like relish’s pared down, simple cafe design — with sleek metal furniture, full length glass windows, white brick walls. cutesy drawings on blackboards break the monotony of the minimalist design, and imbues a certain sense of playful warmth to the surroundings. i suspect servers are also judiciously chosen, being all of young, cute gals that are amicable, friendly and very presentable. top marks for branding yet again.

let’s talk about food.

set meal mushroom soup. (set meal costs $12.90 and comes with soup, along with discounted prices for desserts)

simple mushroom soup with a dash of truffle oil that really elevates the smell of the dish. sadly, i couldn’t really taste much of the truffle oil when drinking the soup. pretty decent stuff tough, not like the watered-down sort you get at common western chains like swensens (and think about it.. the set meal price is pretty reasonable if you consider that swensens pretty much charges at the same rate).

aglio oilio with crabmeat (pasta of  the day – one possible selection for the set menu)

mom ordered the pasta of the day. looks pretty good. but p’haps tad small a serving.

wild rocket beef burger – arugula, sarawak pepper cream, sun dried tomato relish together with a nicely charred, medium rare patty ($12.90)

this doesn’t come with a set meal sadly. supposedly there signature dish, this is the beef burger done artfully, the patty being juicy and yet crisp at the edges. the sarawak pepper cream added a certain spiciness to the dish which distinguished it for common burgers out there. i noted that they called arugula arugula instead of rocket which is kinda wierd since the burger is known as wild rocket beef burger. ah wells.. i notice wierd things.

for sides, i got the onion rings (+2.50), which were not your ordinary run-of-the-mill rings, but nicely battered and crispy. yummy.

pandan-infused panna cotta in a pool of gula melaka ($3.00 with the set meal)

the set meal makes things really quite affordable. this interesting local variant of the panna cotta was refreshing, and the sweetness gula melaka went well with the light frothiness of the pandan panna cotta.

deconstructed strawberry cheesecake, ($3.50 with set meal)

i think i finally understand the point of deconstructed desserts. it allows you to be the masterchef to combine ingredients by yourself and essentially recreate the entire flavor of the familiar dessert within your mouth. of course, each deconstructed piece has to be delicious and well made – such as in the case of this strawberry cheescake, with a delicious walnut crumble, cream cheese, ice cream and strawberries in syrup. you take a sample of each portion in your spoon and eat the entire spoonful in one shot, hence essentially recreating the flavors of the strawberry cheesecake instantly. to me, such a way of eating actually enhanced the flavors of the dessert, since you could taste every single ingredient on its own and also the overall impression of the dessert.

overall, definitely come here for the set lunch — for the same price that you would pay at many local establishments that push out pretty mundane, uninspired dishes, you get interesting satisfying flavors in a really chillax environment. i like. i would also want to come back and try the various different burgers with local twists, from chilli soft shell crab burger, to blue cheese and pear burger. mmm. 7.5/10

relish (serangoon gardens)1 Maju Ave, #02-07/09 myVillage at Serangoon Garden | burgers, desserts, chill out


bittersweet memories.

you know, after blogging and reviewing so much about food, there’s a certain realization that food memories are hugely influenced by the people we eat the food with, the conversation we hold with them throughout the meal, and the emotions felt. in this case, it was a bittersweet meal, with the realization that chillin’ with my sis was going to be something that would be quite rare come next month onwards, considering that she would be flying off to spain for goodness knows how long. ah well.. it has been nice and a great support, and its really cool to grow up and see our siblings become our close friends.

anyways.. old empire gastrobar is this unpretentious pub/bar located in the sleepy shopping centre of valley point near river valley. (yes, spize is nearby, and dozo and la noce are in the same building.. if you need a reference). the sense i get from the bar is that it is an unpretentious watering hole, with lively 90s music, simple bar furnishings — a place that would completely blend into its surroundings had it been plonked into a irish/uk/us town. with such an environment, you would understand why foreigners flock to this place for drinks on a lazy, rainy friday night to just unwind, chillax and chat with friends. i was wondering why Singaporeans didn’t seem to buy into such a culture in general, then i remembered the coffee shops littered with old uncles watching football and realized the parallel there. different strokes for different folks eh?

and as an aside, using the word “gastrobar” really does raise the atas-ness of a restaurant by several notches eh? i mean, upon reading about this gastrobar on HGW, i was imagining some cool, chic, hip, well-designed bar serving pricey fusion bar food with an assortment of beer. well my impression couldn’t be more way off, considering this place was simply an unpretentious pub with well.. simple pubby food like fish & chips, burgers, chicken wings and the likes. but hey.. this shows.. using these “atas” words like gastro really does work sometimes eh? i’m chope-ing the word “gastroculture” or something like that for my future restaurant eh? lol..

trappistes rochefort 6

ok.. beer wise, they do have a real decent, long selection of beers, and with a happy hour till 8pm, you can get some relatively decently priced beers to accompany your meal. i got the trappistes rochefort 6 ($11), some belgian ale which had a malty sweet taste that appealed to my sweet-tooth sensibilities, whereas my sis got a girly koppaberg strawberry-lime beer ($8). both were pretty decent selections imo (but i still prefer wine of course =))

        smoked duck breast, $18

this is a surprisingly well plated dish for simple bar grub and the duck breast was all sorts of delicious, tasting almost somewhat like ham — well grilled, flavorful and really kinda addictive to be honest. the drawback of this dish would be the fact that it was kinda really oily, meaning that the health-conscious sensibilities of mine were kinda protesting at the dish. but its worth a try to be honest.

empire burger, $18

my sis ordered an empire burger, which was another surprise as well, this one not as pleasant. to be honest, the notion of burgers at a pub conjured up images of huge slabs of patty and bun in my mind, so it was kinda underwhelming to see such a small burger being served up, along with a decent potion of potato wedges. the burger was alrite, but nothing too special. this doesn’t really warrant an $18 to be honest..

hmm.. all in all, this place is nice to hang out and have some beer while catching up with friends. furthermore, there’s a 15% discount with standard chartered to sweeten the deal. food-wise, its kinda unexpected if you’re expecting common bar grub. there’s some level of sophistication but it needs some tweaking in my opinion. hold on the food-front until more reviews emerge praising their cuisine — otherwise, come for somewhat more delicious bar grub then. 6.5/10

old empire gastrobar |  491 River Valley Road, #01-16 Valley Point | bar grub, beers

midday respite.

headed down with nate for some coffee @ pause cafe during lunch time on a normal work day. pause cafe is situated amidst some industrial-ish place near jalan anak bukit merah, which is honestly a very odd place to site a cafe. i mean, i doubt nearby workers of the factories would be interested in such a place, and most people wouldn’t actually think of heading to anak bukit merah for some classy chillax coffe-place. so yeah, it’s almost like it was purposely placed there to be incongruous.

but all that being said, the place is really nice to relax and just catch up with old friends. the cafe is part of a concept store/boutique headed by dominic khoo, named 28th fevrier. the interior reminds me of those artsy, minimalist furniture places you would chance by whilst strolling down gastown in vancouver. the elusive-ness of the cafe adds to its charm, because the quietness and minimalist surroundings really do calm the work-frazzled nerves and time does slow down as you admire the interior and slowly sip your coffee.

cool decor.

i was really drawn by the furniture, what with paper/cardboard multi-functional couches and green rugs that gave the feel of the outdoors. nice place to relax indeed. speaking of food, there’s none to speak of (yeah i was kinda disappointed) besides some biscotti to pair with your coffee. in essence, this place is more for the experience, and perhaps the cafe was more of an afterthought for patrons of the boutique to sit back and have some drinks. i chose a latte (from my previous experience at 40 hands, this was the lightest stuff) and well.. it was decent, but to be honest, i really cannot taste any difference at all.

latte, $6

all in all, a nice place to just come by to chillax and while the afternoon away reading artsy magazines and sipping on decent coffee. hehe, that is if u have some time to spare from work near bukit merah.

pause cafe | 5 jalan kilang S159405 | coffee

sun, sand and the sea

one of the greatest gratifications of doing dragonboating is that it grants you a ticket to simply gorge yourself crazy with food without any guilt whatsoever. i mean, you’ve earned it essentially. and its nice that the team usually heads straight for the beach road golden mile food centre for lunch, since the food there is really good, and much cheaper than any other brunch destinations that have been popping around singapore.

so perhaps i shall take a slight sojourn from the atas/brunch path and review some hawker food. =) this was also inspired by the cnngo post on the 40 singapore foods we can’t live without. i feel like trekking round singapore to capture all the experiences at these places man..

anyways, food blog it is, so food we talk about.

tong ji mian shi lor mee, $3 or $4 (shown is $4)

mind you, i never really liked lor mee for a long time, distrusting the broth to be some sort of carbs intense stew that made one utterly full. it was only from eyeing my fellow teammates choices and smelling the piquant aroma of the lor mee did i venture to try the dish. tong ji mian shi does a great rendition of the lor mee, injecting fried wonton, meat slices, fried lotus root, egg together with the noodles, and together with the flavorful broth, it makes for a really hearty and satisfying dish after training. the most important ingredient imo, is the amount of black vinegar you add into the broth (ask the uncle if you are unsure) — the vinegar really does enhance the soup broth flavor, giving that additional oomph to the proceedings.

tong ji mian shi is quite decorated with newspaper clippings and certificates documenting their success with lor mee, but it seems like they are also pretty well known for their bak chor mee and laksa.. hmm, more food to try next time. 4 / 5 chopsticks

tong ji mian shi | blk 505 beach road, #01-100, golden mile food center | lor mee

simple playspace.

saturday mornings have become lazy, brunch-hunting mornings where I hunt down new cafes and establishments to soak in the atmosphere, comment about the ambience, enjoy a good meal and chat with good friends. =) that’s a pretty chill life, eh? so this time round, lik sin and i got down to exploring arbite @ serangoon gardens. after having watched michelle chong’s inspired portrayal of a serangoon gardener, i decided to go explore this area abit.

so arbite took the place of what used to be a chinese dessert stall that used to sell durian desserts which contributed to an overall pungent environment to its cosy confines. me no life. arbite has taken the space and has decorated it in a sleek, white minimalist theme, using swedish-style furniture to create a tasteful cosy area for people to escape the midday heat. the decorative elements are lego blocks that have been stuck onto cracks in the wall, and there are also jars of lego for little kids to play with. nice concept. location wise, arbite manages to achieve that hidden gem feel owing to the fact that it resides of the second floor above guardian pharmacy, but is actually really convenient, considering it faces serangoon circus and can be seen once u get off the board that leads into the area. let’s talk food then.

pappardelle with mushrooms and parma ham – button mushrooms, spinach, parma ham and cream sauce drizzled in truffle oil ($19.90)

yay for home-made pappardelle! it’s been awhile since i’ve managed to taste home-made pappardelle — those i tasted in florence really set an incredibly high standard with an amazing crunchiness and lightness to the taste of the pasta. mind you, there really is a difference when stuff is home made and made well. makes me really want to head back to florence again. FYI, the restaurant you MUST go to in florence for their pasta and wine tasting is Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. anyways,the parppadelle here can’t compare to that found in florence, but stands pretty well on its own. there is a certain level of crunchiness and the ingredients really worked well together, the cream sauce balancing out the savoriness of the parma ham and the mushrooms. good stuff.

pork schnitzel, $17.90

lik sin got the pork schnitzel, which was a smart choice i suppose, since arbite is a pun for the german/danish word for work. anyways, he liked it alot, especially with the gratuitous dollop of blue cheese at the side.

my wife’s chocolate cake, served with a scoop of movenpick’s vanilla ice cream, $8.00

the dessert is kinda huge and should be shared. its delicious mind you but imo, too much chocolate makes on jelak very easily. anyways, i appreciated the fact that the movenpick ice cream used real vanilla pods because you could see the black grains in the ice cream. (the cheaper and much easier method would be to use vanilla essence) the ice cream went really well with the chocolate cake, which had a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top of the chocolate cake that swirled well with the ice cream. the cake itself was pretty light but still held its own flavors together with the ganache and ice cream. yummy.

all in all, i’m definitely coming back here, what with other delicious things on the menu, from brunch breakfasts to lamb shanks. nice chill ambience and a cool environment. 7.5/10

arbite | 66a serangoon gardens way | cafe, contemporary, desserts

otherwise titled: the camera-envy post

so we went to prive for dinner to celebrate joshie’s birthday, and in fine style i must say. prive is perched on this off-shore island that’s accessible via a bridge connected to mainland near vivocity. now if that’s not creating a distinct and unique ambience, i don’t know what is. and to be honest, the surroundings do little to remind you of the bustle that is singapore — tranquil surroundings amidst tidy rows of gleaming white yachts bobbing silently up and down the harbor create a picturesque and calming ambience unlike no other. it’s the very definition of upper class luxury and decadence. in some sense, it reminds me of the one time i went to one degree 15 @ sentosa cove and stared mutely at the ‘singapore dream’ materializing in my eyes. its really another world out there.

anyways, the experience there was also one that caused immense envy to me, but for an entirely different reason – because i discovered how pathetic (sorry g1o) my camera stood in comparison to my dear friend ian’s canon dslr. there was no comparison. it was like me hauling out a pea shooter to fight a war only to be facing a bazooka point blank for lack of a less crude description. and yes, whilst i gamely tried to take my food pictures using my g10, it became painfully obvious how good the quality of the shots were from ian’s camera, so i gave in and used his camera for the remaining shots. so here goes.

view from prive, shot from ian’s camera, using his flash apparatus. im seriously impressed. no touch up needed here.

amuse-bouche – essentially a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre that differs from an appetizer because amuse-bouches are done so based on a chef’s decision and not chosen by the diner (read: COMPLIMENTARY). it translates directly from french as “mouth amuser”. in this case, we had a curry samosa, with some drizzle of sauce that i couldn’t figure out. it was decent, but tbh not much to write about as it is almost a kop-out because curry being curry, is such a dominating flavor that it masks imperfections of any other thing.

just for comparison, this is my g10 shot, which i later touched-up slightly as well. *sad face*. i lack that amazing depth of field.

bread was really delicious, smelling and tasting as though they came directly from the oven. one type tasted overly salty at the sides though but the raisin baked bread with butter was a heavenly combination, mixing that sweet and savory tastes together for a light satisfying pre-meal food. hmm at this point it might be good to point out the service level here – i’m not too impressed, especially comparing with St Pierre (to be reviewed very soon) because the servers, while professional, were largely absent from our dining experience, neither assuming the position to explain to us the popular or better dishes, nor going out to explain what kinds of bread was presented and what sort of butter of was etc (compared to St Pierre of course). that being said, major points for actually supplying butter that was nicely melted such that one did not have to dig with their spoon furiously to carve out their butter.

oh hello, g10! we meet again! lol. i ordered the rack of kurobuta pork from their josper grill menu which was priced at a disgustingly high price of $52. like.. wow. the rationale? apparently this josper grill is some legendary culinary equipment that has revolutionized kitchens across Michelin starred restaurants. i kid you not. listen to their description of the grill –

“the josper grill is the latest professional tool that has taken the international culinary world by storm, with lauded chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton creating Josper-centric menus in their current establishments. The Spanish hybrid indoor barbeque grill/oven powered by Bincho-tan ‘white’ hardwood oak charcoal is well known for being able to grill meat, fish and vegetables swiftly, and more importantly, perfectly.”

haha. guys, i dunno whether sometimes we lap up such hype so easily because we want to be impressed, or at least, to a certain extent, feel more privileged than others who lack the chance to try out the josper grill food. to be honest, i don’t understand how utilizing this one equipment justifies literally doubling the price of a main dish, but well, i decided to give it a shot since it is probably the only time i would venture out to this keppel island and try such food. hehe, and yes, i paid for bragging rights to say “i ate josper-grilled food“. lol. and just drifting off even more, marketing people need to learn from prive on how to phrase their menus in a way that can justify the insane prices of their meals. learn quick, my padawan:

“the (insert name of kitchen equipment) is the latest darling of chefs worldwide, having inspired notable celebrity chefs such as (insert either Daniel Boulud/Mario Batali/Gordon Ramsay/the naked chef.. you get my drift) to create customized menus in their fine establishments. This (insert European “cheem” sounding name) apparatus combines state-of-the-art technology developed in (insert US laboratory name) with the age-old natural properties of (insert Asian/Oriental exotic sounding herb name) to masterfully churn out perfect renditions of (insert your favorite dish that you intend to price exorbitantly).”


ok back to the food. ahh.. the rack of kurobuta (japanese translation: black pig) tasted AMAZING. for all my teasing, this josper grill really does work magic in infusing all the natural goodness, sweetness and juiciness of the meat within the meat such that every piece tastes equally good – a taste evolution of the sweetness from the glace and sauce to the savoriness of the meat and inherent flavor. amazing stuff that had me abandoning my manners and attacking the bone itself.

my friends tried other selections in the josper grill menu, like the premium black angus tenderloin ($58) which tasted good as well, but i felt mine was really unique, with a really elevated flavor profile compared to your typical pork dish. and yes, the picture is a beaut.

we shared a few sides including sauteed mushrooms and a potato gratin, but again, it wasn’t really much to write about. pleasant, good food but nothing out of the ordinary i’m afraid.

ahh.. desserts. this time round i chose the varlhona chocolate mille feuille, $16, essentially layers of hazelnut praline crisp & varlhona chocolate layers, served with morello cherry compote. DELICIOUS. i mean, wow.. i didn’t know mille feuille could taste so good. the exquisite combination of the nuttiness of the hazelnut praline crisp mixed with the semi-sweet varlhona chocolate made for an immensely satisfying and addictive dessert. serious. i couldn’t stop grinning whilst eating this dessert. it was that good.

fresh lychee granite and seasonal fruits, $12

lemon meringue tart, $12

my friends ordered other desserts, but to be honest, mine was so good i couldn’t keep my eyes (or hands) off the mille feuille. though i tasted the lychee granite and felt it was refreshing and well-suited for a hot summer’s day. ahh, whatevs, just. get. the. mille. feuille.

so all in all, a really enjoyable experience, except of course the paying part of the meal. superb chillout ambience coupled with fine foods (if wisely selected) at a premium price. come here for your once-in-a-decade celebration and be prepared to spend, then head home and have good memories of the nice food here.  8.0/10

prive | no.2 keppel bay vista, marina at keppel bay, s098382 | contemporary, western, fine dining, desserts

the japanese do breaded the best.

in bid to perform some analytics to my this pseudo blog business operations (allow me to indulge awhile), i wanted to see exactly how long it took me to blog a food post – first with the selection of pictures, touching them up slightly, loading, and then the actual blogging. mind you, i’m quickly realising that this blog thingy requires a fair bit of discipline. of course, one could argue that ya’know.. just blog when you feel like it, but that’s precisely my issue for most things — if you do things when you feel like it, you mostly do nothing much. and hence this blogging has become more of a discipline for me at times, just to show myself (haha) that i can carry through what i say and plan to do a few months ago.

ok back to food business. so yesterday we headed to the airport, T1 to pick up my sis who had finally flown back from vancouver to the sunny, crowded shores of singapore. our initial intention was just to have a simple meal at paradise inn, but after seeing the miling crowds outside the place, and the surprisingly long queue at astons specialities, we settled for saboten.

now for people who don’t know about restaurants like saboten and tonkichi, these tonkatsu restaurants have a laser focus on perfecting the art of the tonkatsu, otherwise known as the breaded pork cutlet. try going there to order your typically chawanmushi or tempura and be prepared to be disappointed, because every page of the menu is some tonkatsu set meal or a variant of that. the restaurants operate under a very simple theory, we serve only one thing — the tonkatsu, and damnit we’ll do it damn well. its a pretty decent idea, but you need to know what you’re in for. furthermore, rice and cabbage come free flow, so for the mighty hungry, you can satiate yourself by carbo loading or veggie loading.

now a word on the condiments. the restaurant doesn’t make it very easy for first timers to figure out which sauce goes with which, so here’s some friendly reference. the small bowl filled with sesame seeds is for one to pound to your desired level of fragmentation before ladling out copious amounts of sweet tonkatsu sauce (look for the thick, brown, syrupy one). that sauce+sesame is reserved for the dipping with your tonkatsu. and honestly, the combination is pretty darn good. traditions last for a reason ehh. in terms of salad dressing, saboten offers a vinaigrette-esque sauce or a more traditional thousand island-esque sauce for one to dump on their salad. i prefer the vinaigrette one, so its up to you.

now lets talk tonkatsu. the tonkatsu here is good, and expectedly so. the bread crumbs exterior is delicately crunchy and melts in one’s mouth and doesn’t give you a sense of oilyness (which happens if you use stale oil or too much oil) or jer-lak ness. it is fragrant, delicious, though i somewhat wish the pork within was pounded/tenderized slightly more. good, hearty comfort food from the japanese.

price-wise, its pretty decent. a medium-order of the tonkatsu set will set you back by about 19 dollars, and with the salad/miso soup/rice/green tea ice cream as accompaniments, you are guaranteed to be satisfied. the place is slightly cheaper than tonkichi with no apparently drop in taste level. service is acceptable, and almost gives the place a street-cred of being authentic what with japanglish-speaking waitresses. notice i didnt talk about the ambience, because seriously, what do u expect of a airport establishment — its very open concept, cafeteria style that can get relatively noisy.  6.5/10

saboten |   80 Airport Boulevard, #031-004 Departure Check-in Hall Level 3, Changi Airport Terminal 1 -and- 9 Raffles Boulevard, #P3-01 Parco Marina Bay, Millenia Walk | japanese, comfort food, tonkatsu

*the post took a grand total of 30 mins.