Category: Gourmet.

40hands on the plain with a milkshake

Now that my morning caffeine intake is taken care of by just a teabag of Lipton, I enjoy rewarding myself with a good cup of delightful coffee on weekends.

Forty Hands and The Plain, quaint1 coffee houses with very different vibes, serve solid beverages and one with a touch of Australian yeast extract. Just based on the coffee quality, they are both revisit-worthy. I like mine creamy and pungent. The guys at 40hands accomplished this perfectly. Though I must admit that I am more drawn to Plain’s seating sensibility and lighting. Shallow, as I am.

Forty Hands - Strong refined latte. Potentially addictive.

The Plain - Though I don't use the sweet, soft brown sugar is a nice touch. Latte is as good as most good coffee places.

The Plain - Soft boiled eggs with vegemite breadsticks. Insane amount of saltiness.

The Plain - Not sure why it's called Dean's breakfast; poached eggs were nicely done but the toast was rather cold.


Then, there was a slight detour to the dairyland of goodness at Once Upon a Milkshake.

Once Upon a Milkshake - Lychee and Mocha gooeyness. Much too goey for me.


  1. read: small establishments with limited seating []

Quickly by Hotel Nikko Kansai

It was my first time in Hotel Nikko Kansai. Minutes after you clear the Kansai immigration, you will arrive at this simple facility that stays true to the status as an airport hotel. Frankly, after hearing the dreadful stories from the co-workers, I was not exactly looking forward to the stay. Good thing, they were wrong.

The convenient location is ideal for transit travellers or those who need to stay close to the airport. You can reach the JR and local train stations in 5 minutes on foot, and the trains will bring you to Osaka downtown in 40 minutes. Oh from the guests I saw in the lobby, it is also a hit with tourists who wish to visit the Rinku Premium Factory Outlet. The free shuttle (with a gorgeous seaview on-route) helps!

Back to the accommodation.

Room is modestly appointed with a good sized bed for one. View is calm. Internet connection is a breeze. BBC World is the only English channel. Bathroom is stocked and underwhelming-ly decorated with a single stalk of plastic lily. Space is tight but overall rather comfortable. If I must have one complaint, the key card is printed with the name of the hotel and room number. Not much for security.

Then the colleagues warned me about the (lack of) food. If only they know how addicted I am to Japanese cuisine. The airport has plenty of choices and the restaurant in the hotel, Hanazato, serves up decent dishes too.

Sigh, I’ve got to stop talking about food.

Yup.

Devoted to Kazumi

Being a bore, I tend to dine in the same restaurants when I am overseas. In Shanghai, it will be Kazumi at Renaissance Yangtze.

It may not have the best of best sliced seafood or fine dining delicacies, the entire team always make it a point to make my visit most enjoyable. The staff is friendly but not intrusive. The thick sashimi is served cool and the cooked food is always hot. The head chef will replace what I don’t eat with my favourites. When I am alone, they will provide fresh reading material. Don’t be mistaken – I am not a big spender. A plate of sashimi and a piece of grilled cod do not really cover the night’s paycheck. When the folks are proud of what they do, they do it well.

Lucy, I can eat at least another portion of the below set!

Single portion of sashimi combo

One of the staff thought I should try one of the signature rolls. It was alright. Big portion but I am not a fan of fried shrimp (anymore). Too bad I don’t have a picture of the beautiful cod.

Kazumi signature shrimp roll

Looking forward to the next Japanese meal.

Restaurantweek: Dine and dazed at CM-PB

I admit that I only signed up for restaurantweek.sg because we have ran out of dining ideas. Organised by DiningCity, a select list of restaurants offer set meals at a discount. Good way to sample the menu and the chef’s taste, I say.

The idea is to visit an outlet that fits our general dining preference i.e. non-pretensious, sensible food, and reasonable prices. That way, if we do like the place, it will be a regular haunt. This round, we went for CM-PB.

Described as a trendy wining and dining at Dempsey where in the kitchen East meets West, it is a restaurant, a cafe, and also a bar with live bands. It is just too confusing for me. Almost like the owner is not sure what (else) will work in Dempsey, so why not include everything! With sino-lanterns hanging over the bar, jeans/shorts-clad staff serving delicately placed food, and a genre of music that I cannot recognize, it hurts to dine indoors. The outdoor seating area is very appealing, in that respect.

Back to the food. The menu was fixed for the event. Oh apparently photography1 was not allowed.

First up – Prawn and Butternut Soup. My initial reaction was – is that bubbles?! I might have squealed a little too loud but seriously, bubbles in a creamy soup? More like a broth, the thin soup was overwhelmed by the taste of prawns. You don’t taste anything other than that of prawn shells and salt. Bread was good. Well.

Creamy prawn and butternut pumpkin soup serve with warm toast

Being named after the restaurant, I had high hopes for the Contemporary Melting-Pot and Bar Salad. Again, the dressing was way too salty. Fresh seafood and crunchy leaves, granted. The Bonito flakes was an oddity for me. If the chef is trying to infuse some Japanese sense into the salad, he does not have to. Looks pretty though.

Prawn. Fresh Salmon. Crab Meat. Salmon Roe. San Marzano Tomato. Citrus Soy Olive Oil Dressing and Bonito Flakes

Normally, I like my cod steamed. The tiny portion of battered cod did not taste too bad! Finally something that was not salty. The cod maintained the distinctive taste and the crispy chips was well-seasoned. The salad dressing was too salty (erm yes) and wet. Wasabi mayonnaise was a very nice touch. It added a surprisingly and refreshing taste to the plate of fried food.

Kronenbourg Beer battered Black Cod. Chips. Mesclun Salad. Wasabi Tobiko Mayonaise

The Wagyu beef burger was the better entrée on the menu. Of course, I don’t know anything about beef but this was moist and surprisingly less gamey than expected. Foie gras was well seasoned and very tender. Thankfully, they did caramelise those onions, unlike those served to Paul. Thoroughly savoured.

Foie Gras. Homemade Wagyu Beef Patty. Caramerlized Onions. American Straight Cut Fries and Mesculun Salad

Ahh the close of the meal was a standard cheesecake with strawberry compote. Nothing exceptional. I did appreciate that it was not too sweet. The pastry chef, I noticed, was indecisive. The plating was different for different tables. Just a side observation.

Homemade Oven Baked Cheese Cake. Grand Manier Strawberry Compote

In all. Spending slightly more than S$100 for two persons was not at all disappointing. Though I would have preferred for a more conservative use of salt2, the overall dining experience was nice. The service was swift3 and always with a smile. I will return for a simple meal and relax over a pot of tea. Yes it is a bar but the frozen margarita served that night was a sham(e).

  1. Sneaked photos with trusty Xperia X1 []
  2. Dining partner thought it was fine []
  3. Part of me wondered if they were trying to turn the tables []

If only the food is as charming as the setting

You know when you get a food-related craving, you cannot stop thinking/obsessing about it until you have sliced it and consumed it whole? Last week, it was all about Churros. For that, we decided to seek out a spanish eatery. A quick search brought us to My Little Spanish Place.

Before I move on, you probably should know that the picture of the receipt is the only image I have for this food review1. Nonsense, I know.

Nestled in the prime residential district, the restaurant breathes of homely charm on the outside. As for the interior, if you ask me, it is tad overly made-up. The compact space seats about 35-40 covers. Some of the patrons were seated dangerously close to another table and some cannot move out of their seats unless 10 others move too. Speaking of seats, I like my chairs deep with arm rests. Unfortunately, the reserved table came with seats that aren’t.

Once we had established that they do serve Churros, we proceeded with the meal order. The same waiter proactively alerted that paellas will take approximately 45 minutes to prepare. Simply put – order some tapas and wait or fill up on appetizers alone. Of course, we chose the glutton way.

TapasServing of bread came with olive and paprika spread. Tasty but not warm enough. Suspect it is the way it is served. Croquestas are creamy and rich. The mysterious filling is something we rather not know about. Albondigas have a good moist blend of lean and fat. Oh dear me! Good temperature too.

DrinksSan Miguel and Red Wine Sangria are pretty normal. Nothing exceptional.

Paella Mixta – It probably did take 45 minutes but we did not keep track. When it did arrive, the surprised look on our faces must be priceless. It was not moist. It was not bubbling with the warm spanish spirit. It was regular dry baked rice in a pan, topped with 4 pieces of overcooked prawns. We finished it still. It was decent for a rice dish.

Desserts – Another disappointment. Churros were very hard; sprinkled with non-existent cinnamon and granular sugar instead of powered. Chocolate sauce earned some brownie points but not enough to redeem the reputation of the chef who butchered this traditional snack. PX with ice cream should only be ventured if you like really sweet ice cream.

In all, it was a pleasant dinner spent in a pretty restaurant. It was bustling with customers and the mood was pretty nice. If you do want to visit, make a reservation and be ready to wait during service. I will only go back for a simple drink and hot snacks. Oh in all, we spent SGD101.75 inclusive.

Sidetrack. Do not watch F Word Season 5 if you have very little self restraint. Now we lust for Greek.

  1. For pictures, read this review []

F4T – The White Dog Cafe

It is not my intention to review food. Small pictures which cannot induce salivation does not help, I am aware. Bear with it while I move back on track.

*

White Dog Cafe @ Vivocity has always failed to interest me. Maybe because of the name1, maybe because I am tired of another Fish’n’Chips. Anyway, out of options, we decided to try the only place that does not have a snaking queue. Says alot huh.

Staff is adequately friendly, carrying out standard protocol throughout the dining experience. Restaurant has a good view of Sentosa, or rather the construction on the island. The seats are comfortable enough to have a sit-down dinner for 3 hours.

If you are a lover of lobster bisque, you would be disappointed. Thin and somewhat fishy. Good portion and decent warm garlic bread. The leading soup, sadly, lacks the luscious creamy body.
Lobster Bisque

Calamari cannot fail, right? The squid fritter is crunchy on both the inside and out. The crumbs made it taste like fish sticks, probably similar batter. No complaints really. Just a personal observation.
Squid fritters

Not my dish but the batter is way too thick. Generous portions with limp salad. Ignoring the odd cabbage strips and thick coating, the fish is pretty well prepared. Good sized chips too.
Traditional Fish and Chips

The Margarita pizza is succulent! My all-time favourite pizza topped with smoked chicken. Yes I cheated. Just the right amount of bubbling cheese and herbs, with a tomato base that does not overwhelm the white meat. Inspired!
Margarita or Margherita Pizza slice

I will go back just for the oven-baked slice again, and for that Berry Banana Bonanza smoothie too.

  1. why do they call themselves that, I don’t get. []

Only musselicious

I am not a food critic. In fact, I don’t have much opinion on food. So long it is not stale or too spicy, it will pass in my taste. This lengthy disclaimer is really to highlight the unreliability of my gastro-reviews. So I don’t know why I bother.

We were getting tired on a friday night. KPO was overwhelmed with Lexus, Bimmers and frankly slack-looking valets. So we turned around and went back to Orchard Central. As Garuda has not a single floor tile in place, we decided to dine in The Mussels Guys. Best of all, there is a 1-for-1 promotion on their mussel dishes.

Decor is decent. Servers are flexible and sensitive to needs, though the slip into Mandarin kinda threw us off.

The Mussels Guys @ Orchard Central

Their signature dish, Spicy Mussels, does impress (top picture). Served hot with just the right amount of spiciness. Gratifying with a zing that keeps you going at it. The seafood is fresh and deserves to be highly recommended.

Now onto the second mussel dish, Baked half-Mussels. It was lukewarm when served. Not ideal and hence must be eaten immediately. Let it sit for 20mins and you don’t want to taste the cold cheese anymore. And oh, you won’t be able to tell that there is a spicy sambal chilli in it, as the menu states.

Well, since it is the “Mussels Guys”, don’t expect too much on the non-mussels stuff. The spicy seafood raised the bar way high for the other mains and sides. Mushroom soup has chunky mushrooms but something tells me it is from the can. Chicken with wild mushroom sauce is referred to as chicken rice. For chicken rice, it is decent but not with wild mushrooms, for sure.

At ~S$60 for two persons, it will have me as a returning customer. Just for the mussels this time.