Upper Thomson | Novena

the farewell feasts

been so utterly busy settling pre-trip administration that its been difficult to blog about all the good food i’ve been ingesting that’s been seriously threatening my diet regime. -_-.. but i suppose there’s something about eating great food that makes you want to share it with the rest.. so here goes:-

new ubin seafood kinda exists in a shady-looking area amidst car-repair workshops (which explains the rows of cars in various states of disrepair, some with obvious vandalism signs) so i guess if u wanna call it hidden, you could. its definitely a foodie’s place, considering this would be the last place you would expect a good zi char restaurant to exist. so there.

for the uninitiated, zi char translates loosely as “cook-fried” (which doesn’t make much sense i suppose), but describes a category of chinese food that involves huge fires and big woks to completely “fry” the food and imbue the essence of the “wok-heat” within. (gosh, translations don’t exactly make sense). well, nowadays the definition is kinda loose, but it essentially describes all sorts of dishes that are to be shared among many and eaten with rice/mantou etc..

so new ubin is pretty cool because it seems to have incorporated some western influences and modern amenities – first with a decent air-conditioned eating room (which apparently is fully-booked quite far in advanced during the weekends. we went on a weekday and it was mercifully less crowded), and then also with obvious western styled dishes mixed into their menus.

one of their signatures is the rib-eye beef with caramelized onions, a side serving of wedges and a plate of fried rice fired from the remnants of beef portions and beef oil ($56, see picture above). and boy.. this dish seriously trumps many major western restaurants in terms of the flavor, texture and savoriness of the beef. we ordered the beef medium  and gosh every bit was utterly delicious, meaty, tender and juicy with tons of flavors locked within. providing caramelized onions and mustard certainly didn’t hurt as well. then we come to the fried rice — fellow foodie laishan swears by it as one of the best fried rice she has ever tasted, and honestly i concur – the rice is fried just nice, lending the rice grains a certain level of “kou-gan” (loosely translated as ‘mouthiness’ or a certain bubbly efferverscent texture) and the beef ingredients (fried to a crisp) form the perfect juxtaposition to the rice grains. this dish is obviously blardy unhealthy but its utterly irresistible. this is a must order.

and you know what’s best? this place has no corkage charges and people are known to bring bottles and bottles of wine to enjoy it with this amazing rib eye beef. and honestly, with servings meant for 2 – 3 and the additional acoutrements, $56 is a pretty darn decent price. western restaurants ought to shudder in fear.

another signature is their fried hokkien mee ($24), in which a ‘small’ order comes served in a gigantic plate that can serve up to 7 bowls of glorious, seafood-broth drenched noodles that taste pretty awesome. again, you can choose to be blardy unhealthy and add tons of lard into the dish (i opted out), but its delicious on it own, with generous servings of ingredients like squid, barbecued pork and so on. the noodles are chewy and well cooked. yummy!

creamy sauce flower crab with fried mantous 

besides these, we ordered salted egg squid ($18), kang-kong fried in belachan, and flower-crab in creamy sauce paired with mantous and it was enough to fill 5 of us up completely. (we regretted getting 2 bowls of rice to share) once again, its utterly unhealthy food but also quite irresistible. to be honest, im not a fan of crab and i can’t discern between awesome seafood and just ok seafood so i shan’t comment too much – i just know i enjoyed the interesting and original creamy, slightly spicy sauce that the crab was cooked in, which made for a delicious dip for the mantous. (and gosh, i absolutely love those fried mantous)

all in all, a very delicious expensive that is obviously gut-busting and cholesterol racking. laishan mentioned that she could feel her arteries clogging as she gobbled down the salted egg squid so eat in moderation k? it might be quite unhealthy, but in moderation, the meal was utterly satisfying and didn’t leave one with that greasy, jelak feel that you sometimes get when you have gobbled down copious amounts of fats and such (i.e. like a gigantic kfc meal).

its not exactly cheap – we paid $35 a person for the meal (inclusive of orh-nee dessert, which we didn’t particularly like) but to be honest, considering the spread of food that we had eaten, it’s a decent price. overall, a good recommendation and a better place to bring your ang-moh friends to expose them to awesome, authentic singaporean food instead of the more expensive options of like no signboard seafood or ah hoi’s kitchen. 8.0/10

new ubin seafood (sin ming) |  Block 27 Sin Ming Road (behind Block 26), #01-174 Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A | local, chinese


bringing the city to the garden.

i’m sniffing my guts out as i type this, but ah wells, let’s get this over with.

so we decided to head nearby to bishan park for a meal, since i’ve heard growing buzz about weekend brunch @ canopy and the likes. went there for a drink a while back and found the ambience to be pretty amazing what with a laid back, garden environment creating a sensation of being whisked away to a hidden garden realm. perhaps that’s the very definition of a hidden find?

there are actually 3 restaurants co-located within the verdant confines, canopy being the most exterior and well-lit lodge style dining, followed by the green room, a hidden vegetarian restaurant and then cosy, dark corners that make up middle rock bar. we headed to canopy, by virtue of the fact i’ve heard about it more often. the food is more of a mish mash of western influences, from tapas choices like mini wagyu burgers, selections of pizza and pasta, as well as mains like beef bourguinon and wagyu steak.

lobster pomodoro, $19

ordered a lobster pomodoro, essentially spaghetti in a nuanced tomato sauce, sprinkled with various herbs and parsley (which i still categorically dislike)  and paired with generous chunks of lobster meat. i found this to be a decent rendition of a simple classic, not with the heartiness that typifies typical italian tomato pastas, but with a certain elegance. it was admittedly not mindblowing though, and the lobsters didn’t feel exactly too fresh. perhaps its just that my expectations toward pastas and the likes have really soared with the so much good food in the recent years, but this was well.. well made, but not interesting or inspired.

we also ordered the smoked duck pizza ($20, see first picture) which had a little japanese influence what with the generous globs of mayonnaise spread on top of the pizza to give it a distinct sweetness to balance the savory saltiness of the smoked duck. the flavors were good, and adding rocket and sliced apples into the mix was an inspired choice, lending a different texture and crispness to the pizza that otherwise would seriously merely taste like a wafu pizza from watami (not that the wafu pizza isn’t delicious.. but its half the price). i found the pizza crust to be just a little thick and it lacked a certain crispness and lightness that characterized really good pizzas. but this was nonetheless a satisfying and delicious dish.

signature date pudding in butterscotch sauce and paired with vanilla ice cream ($10)

it was the price of the desserts that made me realise that canopy isn’t exactly very cheap. i mean, consider that you’re located in what would be the heartland-area, sandwiched between bishan and ang mo kio, and you are serving single desserts for the price of $10, which was the exact same price i paid for my desserts at carnivore, mbs last night. and to be honest, this isn’t exactly very fantastic — definitely cannot compare to artichoke‘s amazing rendition of date pudding with salted caramel and it was actually surprisingly simple and well.. flat. the butterscotch sauce was overpoweringly sweet and lacked the finesse and nuance in taste that a salted caramel sauce would have lent, and the date pudding didn’t have any oomph or warm sensation upon eating into it. this was not good considering it was a signature dish and cost 10 quid.

hmm.. overall, this place wins hands down for its ambience, and for its hidden-find ambience. its the perfect place for drinks and late night chats, but the food isn’t exactly very impressive. decent, but not exactly inspired. come for drinks and the ambience instead. 6.0/10

canopy garden dining & bar | 1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Bishan Park II | chill-out, drinks, western

the latest trend.

a few months ago, my friends and i were commenting how fro-yo (frozen yoghurt) shops like pinkberry and yoguru were the next big overhyped dessert thing and how singaporeans seemingly can’t resist the latest dessert chains, buying into them by the dozens. at that point my friend also did clairvoyantly mention that “cupcakes will be the next thing..” and voila.. seems like trend it is – enter twelve cupcakes, a cutesy, well marketed, girly and whimsical cupcake store that has two outlets presently – one at millenia walk and one at united square.

to be honest, i never really liked cupcakes in US. i associated cupcakes with those overly sugary and plasticky confections sold en masse at Walmart in filmsy, little boxes that tasted jelak, fattening and uninspiring. but the twelve cupcakes display was airy and bright, and with flavors like cookies and creme, lychee martini and the likes, and the fact that the icing didn’t look too particularly horrid, i was willing to take a shot at it.

and hey.. it’s not exactly a cheap shot, considering cupcakes were $3 a piece for everyday cupcakes, and $3.50 for daily specials. you get a little box to store if u buy 3, 6 or more.. the instructions are to eat it within 8 hours, and that if u refrigerate it, then microwave it for awhile before eating. in my opinion, dun waste your time lah.. just eat it when you get it =)

i got the cookies and cream (oreo crumbles infused buttercream on a moist chocolate cupcake), strawberry vanilla (strawberry puree infused buttercream on a light vanilla cupcake)  and the daily special of the lychee martini cupcake (with a martini soaked lychee center). the cupcakes were nice, light and moist, forming a good base to bring out the flavors of the add-ons. the cookies and cream cupcake buttercream was delicious, having a certain saltiness to balance the oreo flavor.

the best, however, was the lychee martini cupcake, which somehow came together splendidly — the lychee in the center added that extra oomph and tied together the flavors of the cupcake and the buttercream. didn’t really get to taste the martini though, but overall it was really pretty good.

so all in all? a decent, marketable idea that should last for a while, as long as the standards as maintained. go get yourself a cupcake for a mid-afternoon snack once in a while instead of a gong-cha. it’s worth the shot. and i really do want to try the salted caramel cupcake when its available..  7.5/10

twelve cupcakes |  101 thomson road united square b1-60 s307591 | desserts, cupcakes

de ja vu.

ya’know, i rarely head back to the same restaurant, and especially in such a short duration. but considering its close proximity to my house, and that my elder sis had suggesting bringing kayla there for lunch, i begrudgingly decided to revisit the place, albeit reminding myself not to order the desserts. read about the previous meal here.

and boy, i did quite a 180. this time we ordered the chicken schnitzel yet again, but also shepherd’s pie ($16.90), as well as the bratwurst brat ($18.90). the dishes really gave off a homey, warm feeling, which went well with the fact it was pouring like crazy outside. the bratwurst was deliciously juicy, bursting in our mouths as we bit into it (i compared it to squeezing a pimple to which both my sister’s reeled back in disgust. lol). i found the pairing of the bratwurst with the accompanying honey mustard sauce really nice, the sweetness complementing the juicy flavor of the meat. the shepherd’s pie was well made/baked, with the top crust nicely browned and crisp and the proportion of beef stew and potato was just nice such that the starchiness of the potato did not overwhelm the dish.

and hey it’s kids friendly! (there’s only one baby chair though, so book in advance) we fed kaykayla the mashed potatoes with corn along with the shepherd’s pie and she approved of it by finishing the entire bowl. haha.. she’s really the most critical reviewer actually.

and mind you, the ambience of the place was distinctly different from the sparse, empty feel the first time i went, as the restaurant was merrily packed with patrons, lending a cheery, laid back atmosphere to the place. the service was also much more prompt and faster than the first, perhaps because the owner of the restaurant was around this time.

desserts time! i read on HGW that the apple crumble with ice cream ($6) was decent, so i was willing to give the desserts a second shot since the mains proved to be a delightful improvement as well. and boy.. the apple crumble is really quite good, the crust is nicely baked and crisp and the ice cream really went well with the apple pie. we also ordered a chocolate truffle cake that was pleasantly delicious as well.

 all in all? little part 1 cafe deserves a raise in scoring — choose wisely and you get a really pleasant, decent meal – avoid the brownies and go for the apple crumble for dessert as well. and oh.. come when the owner is around to get the best experience i suppose. =) 6.5/10

ittle part 1 cafe | 15 jasmine road, adelphi park estate | german, beers, cafe, desserts

german trick or treat

little part 1 cafe is the very definition of hidden find – tucked away at a small road after thomson plaza and sited at a row of smallish shops supporting a cosy neighborhood, its a place you would easily miss unless you knew what you were looking for. the interior is quite cosily decorated, typical of those cafes you would find at a street side in munich.. i say munich because the cafe reminds me distinctly of Germany, what with the paulaner brauhaus beers and a menu featuring food like chicken schnitzel. i particularly like the photo frame wall feature in the cafe, which lends a certain eccentric haphazard charm to the place. i went with my sis on a lazy thursday afternoon where there were a few patrons just chillin’ and whiling afternoon away. quaint.

this being said, the service was tad slow, considering that you really had a slow, linear chain of customers coming in. the dishes took quite a few to come, especially for the dessert. let’s talk about food then.

chicken schnitzel – $18.90

this place isn’t exactly cheap, but the chicken schnitzel was really quite good, especially compared to a the chicken meuniere served at nearby swensens @ thomson plaza. the breaded chicken was crispy and juicy and didn’t feel any bit fattening or oily (unlike say KFC) and the accompanying white wine sauce was an interesting complement to the dish. i was delighted to find that the mashed potatoes had corn in them, which added a nice flavor to what can be quite mundane normally. the salad also was infused with a kind of citrusy vinaigrette which made for a very pleasant meal in general. mind you, this dish is big, so bring an appetite here.

four cheese crepe – $16.90

my sis got the four cheese crepe, which was pretty decent. surprisingly, i don’t see that many restaurants doing much crepes, when its actually a very simple and very common dish in europe.

brownie with vanilla ice cream – $6.50

sadly, the dessert was a disappointing disaster. i suspect the brownie was over-microwaved and hence it was dry, flaky and had a slight plasticky taste, which was kinda sad since i was hoping for something chewy and delicious. the ice cream felt like it was ladled out of a cheap walls ice cream tub and tasted cheap and not at all artisanal (haha i love that word). to be honest, i think a cafe should serve desserts of a certain standard, so its kinda disappointing.

all in all, a decent chill out spot for some German-influenced food. the chicken schnitzel is worth a try, perhaps shared along with some buffalo wings. it’s a little pricey to be honest and the desserts are an abject disappointment. so-so place for me. oh.. but plus points for not having any service charge… maybe that explains for the slower than usual service. 5.5/10

little part 1 cafe | 15 jasmine road, adelphi park estate | german, beers, cafe

feeding a nation.

watami is a casual japanese dining restaurant that can be found in many shopping malls nowadays, from raffles city and central to orchard ion. what sets it apart from other japanese chain restaurants like waraku (ewww) is the fact that it has this pretty insane promotion set meal, where you choose an assortment of dishes in a set meal for two which comes up to about 45 – 55 dollars in total. the catch is, the set meal can effortlessly feed four people with some leftovers drizzled around, which works out to around 10+ dollars for a really decent, delicious japanese meal. it’s fast becoming my favorite japanese haunt. and mind you, trying the gargantuan, Herculean task to eating the set meal for two with just TWO people  is really somewhat like man vs food. like.. there isn’t even enough space to put everything on a single table for couples. you’ve been warned.

salmon sashimi platter

the set meal gives you some staples, including this really delicious tuna mayonnaise salad (see above) with fish roe, garden greens, chicken strips and the likes that creates a really refreshing, tasty appetizer. yum. another such appetizer is the salmon sashimi platter, with generous servings of salmon sashimi that were thick slices and tasted fresh.

wafu pizza

one of the better side deals to get is the wafu pizza, a deliciously crispy interpretation of an italian pizza, but with teriyaki strips and mayonnaise that goes amazingly well with one another and with the pizza bread. this is sure to make people on the table fight. lol (and honestly can u imagine two pizza eating THIS and like 6 – 7 other dishes!?)


one characteristic of watami is that there’s a wide variety of hotpots and hot-stone rices (basically stuff that necessitates self-cooking and the stove-contraption) to choose from. besides sukiyaki (in which with good quality beef and good soup stock, nothing can really go wrong), there is also stuff like genghis khan barbequed meat, hot-stone kimchi rice and the likes. you can’t really go wrong with your selections to be honest.

all in all, who cares about ambience when the food is at such value and tastes really good? (and well there’s nothing much to fault about the ambience tbh, just that perhaps the tables are somewhat too small for all the dishes to be served at once). this place is really a bargain and a must for people seeking out hearty (not authentic though) japanese food that fills the stomach. 7.0/10

watami | 252 North Bridge Road, #B1-06/07 Raffles City Shopping Centre | value, japanese, casual

playful eating.

ya’know how when you were young and your mom told you not to play while eating your food, else you would get indigestion? well, mom, tell that to old school delights then. =) a brightly lit themed eatery intending to bring back one’s childhood memories, this place found along upper thomson road is one nice place to chill and just enjoy the cheerful ambience.

i say themed because the restaurant really does try its best to recreate the old time feeling — what with menus decorated as report card books, enid blyton books stacked on shelves along with wooden toy guns and a gratuitous use of the chalkboard for all sorts of scribbling. furthermore, each table has a toy box filled with old time favourites like five stones, country-flagged erasers and snap cards — i just realised how cheap our fun was compared to the children of today who demand ipads and tamagotchis to satisfy their interests.

anyways, come to this place more for the ambience and just for chill out sakes, but don’t expect too much fancy stuff on the food front.

mee siam, $5.50

you see, the problem with trying to create a cafe that sells simple Singaporean style hawker food at slightly pricier prices usually doesn’t work because it is so easy for people to find another standard for comparison. in a sense, such comparisons are so easily accessible to us as compared to say good french food and good japanese food that it takes an astoundingly outstanding rendition of a local fare to really justify an increase of price based on taste. indeed, old school delights doesn’t succeed on this front — whilst eating my mee siam, i was instantly drawn back to a time in JC where i would head to ghim moh for $2.00 mee siam that tasted pretty much the same.

i would argue that most cafes that serve local fare will suffer similar fates, though I would recommend people to head to Space @ Humble House, at Esplanade, as they renditions of local fares are really a step up, with choice ingredients such as scallops and prawns in your carrot cake, and a really cool, sleek, minimalistic atmosphere (and of course they make you pay for it).

well, old school delights doesn’t exactly make a mark on the food front, though the desserts look tempting (and perhaps one day I would try it). nevertheless, what it succeeds in doing is to create a warm, cheerful atmosphere that invites people to come in and relax, drink in the cheeriness and recollect on days gone by. 6/10

old school delights215M Upper Thomson Road | local, comfort food, desserts