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Value (less than $15)

give us our daily bread – (from leftmost, clockwise, chausson aux pomme (apple pie) $3.46, ekmek orange  (honey dough with dried orange peel) $3.18, croissant praline (hazlenut and praline cream) $3.08, pain au figure (bread with figs) $3.18

shall we indulge?

i love french breads and pastries, what with the gentle aroma wafting into your nose and the creative and delicious confections that are displayed for all to drool upon.

my friend told me to go try maison kayser at scotts square (this new shopping center next to tangs) which also has eateries such as delicious and wild honey. its essentially a parisien bakery that went to japan, combined the japanese efficiency and sensibilities before landing in singapore. this bakery/cafe is located at the basement of scotts square, essentially not having much of a store front but just a ringed-in open space with sensible chairs and tables (read: not much decor to speak of) and the brightly lit counter displaying delicious looking bread.

but the decor isn’t what people come for – its more for the bread eh? and boy.. it’s really pretty good. i recommend the chausson aux pomme because of the crust which is buttery (yet not jelak or oily), light, crispy and multi-layered such that the sensation of biting into the crust is a really pleasant one. ditto with the croissant praline, that has this delicious buttery crust that makes it so good, and so authentically french. this is legit baking man.  but yeah, this needs to be eaten freshly made to best feel the effect, because the crispness sadly (and naturally) decreases as time passes.

the breads do not pale in comparison as well – being crispy on the outside but chewy and soft on the inside. the special ingredients make for an interesting taste and i liked the combination of honey dough and orange peel of the ekmek orange, giving the bread a slightly sweet, pleasant taste.

all in all, a decent place to stop by for a chat and some pastries. yummy. 8.0/10

maison kayser | 6 scotts road #b1-09, scotts square, s228209 | bakery, pastries, cafe

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a smorgasbord of flavors condensed into one soup.

you know, i think i finally understand what makes reviewing local delicacies so difficult for me. i take a relatively scientific (god forbid) approach toward savoring my food, trying to discern nuances between flavors and how they balance one another. the problem with asian food though, is that the flavors involved are usually overpowering and tend to dominate your palette at one time, not allowing for any taste balancing. now, this doesn’t mean that these local delicacies are any less delicious as compared to say french fare, but it’s just.. a different food concept. in essence, in asian food, the “zhup” (inherent sauce) is  helluva important.

so let’s look at exhibit A: whitley road big prawn mee (lorong telok). (hmm.. as an aside, its makes for really confusing names when you name your hawker stall after a particular location, but then start expanding or shifting stalls.. it’s like the conundrum of finding 2 variants of katong laksa and queensway shopping centre.. lol)

foodwise, i ordered the pork rib prawn mee noodle ($5). think the prawn broth was really good – an sensory-overpowering peppery warm soup with many nuances of different flavors. the flavor of the broth essentially gave taste to the noodles (which my friend commented weren’t too great) and the other condiments. adding the fried onions was an inspired decision, really adding sparks of tasting and crunchiness to the dish. also liked the prawns dipped in chilli sauce (soy sauce + green chilli). the pork ribs didn’t exactly change the flavor profile of the soup (i assume the broth is from one main pot) and so they were pretty pedestrian.

just another aside, my word of the month is now “pedestrian” –  its so irritatingly condescending when used on food. heard it from one of the comments of joe bastianich when he was reviewing some food on masterchef. that guy is a masterclass at giving mean comments. lol

anyways, the service here was a little annoying – by that i mean that the aunties kept badgering us to order (we were there for barely a minute in when they started their badgering). and they KEPT using the words “shuai ge” and “xiao mei” to end off their comments.. so essentially i think i heard like 10 “shuai ge”s within a span of like 2 minutes. and of course these aunties dun QC one.. they call any guy that is alive shuai ge… 

but all in all, a decent meal in my opinion, that left me wanting for more. my friend apparently didn’t like it that much and recommended me to give a rating of 4.. lol.. nahh.. i’ll be nice. 6.0/10

whitley road big prawn mee (lorong telok) |  18 Lorong Telok, #01-01 | local, prawn mee

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

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

tastes like japan.

i’m having a really japan-inspired week this week in terms of gastronomic selections it seems, what with chirashi-dons, okawas and japanese patisseries. mind you, i really love japanese food. the effort gone into both the aesthetic quality and overall presentation and taste of japanese food is really something, and there’s also a sense of home and sweetness involved with the taste of japanese food. traditional japanese food can come at quite a high price in singapore, so its nice to make the occasional visit to takashimaya b2 and visit the quaint and somewhat traditional-looking stores selling more interesting variations of the japanese cuisine. one of em’s yonehachi, a store selling different types of okawa, sticky glutinous rice with variety of ingredients.

chestnut okowa, $7.80

you can get the rice alone, or complete the rice with some typical japanese pairings like miso soup, hijiki and a small protein dish like karaage or shio salmon. but the focus is on the rice anyways.

pork curry okawa set with shio salmon, $13.80

i got the pork curry okawa, a new flavor that tasted somewhat of a non-spicy indian curry and not that of the japanese sweet curry. the rice smelt and tasted good, and ultimately very homely. i like. =) the other pairings are really nothing much to write home about, but forms constituents of a typical japanese bento meal. good enuff’ for me!

overall, a decent choice for people craving some japanese homely food. 7.5/10

yonehachi |  391 Orchard Road, #B2-04-1/2 Takashimaya Food Hall, Ngee Ann City | japanese, authentic, bento

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