Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hotcakes Cafe - Vegan, Vegetarian and Eggless Cafe at Fortune Centre

You are forgiven for thinking that Hotcakes Cafe sells hotcakes (as in McDonald’s hotcakes) because that was my first thought when I saw the cafe. It is actually a small cafe that sells vegetarian, vegan and eggless dishes, presumably catered to the devotees of Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and Sri Krishnan Temple nearby. 

There are only 20 items on the menu, ranging from Meatball Pasta and Tomato Basil Pasta to Tandoori Pizza and Mutton Noodles Soup Sup.

For those who like tomato-base pastas, I recommend the Meatball Pasta [$8.90]. The tomato sauce is neither too sweet nor too sour, coating each strand of pasta evenly. I personally find the pasta just a little too soft for my liking, but the soft “meatballs” made from tofu makes up for it. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the Hawaiian Pizza [$9.90] turned out to be. Square-shaped pizza base is topped with tomato sauce and various vegetables such as diced green bell peppers and pineapple (the pineapple is the reason why it is called Hawaiian Pizza instead of Vegetable Pizza). The mozerealla cheese even tops every slice and pulling apart the oozy cheese is half the fun. The square pizza base is nowhere as thick as Pizza Hut’s pizzas, but I think this pizza will taste even better with a super thin base like those used in Yellow Cab Pizza Co. 

 Nothing special about the Rojak [$5.50] except that the youtiao pieces are extremely crispy it’s almost like eating crackers. 

Besides coffee such as Cappuccino and Mocha, there is Hot Chocolate for those of us who don’t drink coffee. If you want something a little more exotic, go for Vintage Tea [$3]. There are 2 flavors to choose from: Pure Ceylon Black Tea Lemon and Pure Ceylon Black Tea Cinnamon. The staff recommended Pure Ceylon Black Tea Cinnamon (top-up $0.50 for iced drink), saying that many customers order it. Nothing really special about it, just black tea with a hint of cinnamon to it, but it does make for a refreshing drink on a hot day. 

Hotcakes Cafe also sells eggless cupcakes and cakes which look pretty good. 

Hotcakes Cafe is a fusion cafe that sells not just one cuisine, not two cuisines, but three cuisines. There is something for everyone, whether you are Chinese, Indian or Malay. 

Hotcakes Cafe 
Address: 190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre #01-33, Singapore 188979
Opening Hours: 12pm - 8pm, Closed on Mondays

Monday, December 4, 2017

320 Below (The Central) - Ice-Cream Made with Liquid Nitrogen, Anyone?

When I was young, ice-cream was my all-time favorite food. I could never get enough of the sweet creamy dessert and Singapore’s hot weather didn’t help either. But as I grew older and learned how much flavoring and preservatives goes into the ice-cream, I started eating less of it. 

Located at the right hand side of the entrance of The Central, 320 Below caught my attention when I was running an errand in the area. 

The Clark Quay outlet is a small space with seating capacity of about 20 people. The cute wall art gives a simple explanation on how 320 Below works. 

320 Below has over 20 unique flavors of ice-cream. Classic Flavor features some of the more common common flavors such as Coffee, Earl Grey, Horlick and Milk Chocolate while Premium Flavor such as Avocado Gula Melaka, Christmas Horlick and Tiramisu are flavors that I could not have imagined in ice-cream. 

There are a variety of ways to enjoy your ice-cream in 320 Below. You can have it in a cup [Classic Flavor $4.90; Premium Flavor $5.80], pair your choice of ice-cream with a pastry such as Lava Cake [$8.90, add $0.90 for Premium Flavor ice-cream], Classic Brownie  [$7.90, add $0.90 for Premium Flavor ice-cream] or Waffle [Single Scoop $9.50; Double Scoop $12.80, add $0.90 for Premium Flavor ice-cream]. 

The staff assembled the required ingredients and mixes everything in a big bowl. Liquid nitrogen is used to quickly freeze the mixture into the delicious ice-cream that you have ordered. 

The ice-cream making process is an experience like no other. Liquid nitrogen produces a lot of “smoke” when being used, coupled with the bluish light from the machines, it looks like a scene from a science-fiction movie. 

I have always had a thing for lava cakes, so I got this Lava Cake with Ice Cream [$8.90]. I think the Salted Caramel ice-cream I chose spoiled this dessert for the sweetness of the ice-cream and lava cake makes the whole thing too sweet, perhaps an ice-cream with a simpler taste such as Vanilla would have been better. I do wish that the Lava Cake could be a little more flowy and a little hotter. 

320 Below’s ice-cream does not contain preservatives, stabilizers and flavorings, so you can enjoy to your heart’s content without worries. This is a great place to hang out with family or friends and it’s endorsed by TripAdvisor. 

Addresses, telephone numbers and opening hours of all 3 outlets of 320 Below can be found here

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Man Man Ungai Restaurant - Michelin Bib Gourmand

People have been talking about Man Man Unagi Restaurant ever since the Japanese restaurant in Keong Saik Road started operations in October 2016 and even more so after it earned a spot in Singapore Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list. 

Knowing that the queue can easily be 70-people long, I was lucky to arrive an hour before their morning closing time to no queue at all! Being a single diner has its perks, I was quickly shown to a counter seat overlooking the eel preparation area. The eel

Man Man Unagi Restaurant uses eels from Isshiki town in Aichi Prefecture’s Mikawa province, which is well-known for rearing freshwater eels. The eels are kept in this black water tank and freshly prepared to maintain freshness of the meat. 

The prime seats in the restaurant are the counter seats overlooking the kitchen where you get to see live demonstration of the cutting and gutting of the eel. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but the display of Japanese craftsmanship is an experience like no other. 

The cleaned white meat of the eel are held together by 5 skewers and laid over a bed of white coals. The eels are flipped every few minutes and dipped in a vault of special house-made tare glaze made of soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar. The eels are cooked for 15 minutes under strong heat to give its skin that nice charred taste. 

Hitsumabushi [$29.50+] comes with a bowl of seaweed soup, a small plate of Japanese pickles, a jar of broth, chopped spring onions and nori seaweed, and a stick of fresh wasabi. The recommended way is to eat it in 3 portions: 
1. Scoop up some eel and rice, garnish with nori seaweed and spring onions.
2. Scoop up some eel and rice, add in grated wasabi, sauce (choice of sweet, normal or spicy) and Japanese spice mixture known as shichimi. 
3. Scoop up some eel and rice, add in dashi stock. 
The char-broiled eel is oh-so tender it literally melts in your mouth, while the skin has the distinctive charred smokiness. The combination of the soft flesh and crispy skin, makes it so irresistible. Now I understand why I see so many people ordering Large Hitsumabushi [$39.40]. 

I have had unagi don at Nezameya, a popular unagi speciality restaurant just outside Fushi-Inari Taisha and I can safely say that Man Man Unagi Restaurant’s hitsumabushi is every bit as good. 

Man Man Unagi Restaurant 
Address: 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109
Telephone: 62220678
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 2.30pm; 6pm - 10pm (Closed on Sundays) 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tempura TENTEN - New Japanese Restaurant at Raffles City Shopping Centre Serves Awesome Tendon

Tempura TENTEN is a new Japanese restaurant at the basement of Raffles City Shopping Centre that has taken over the spot previously occupied by Daikoukuya. Tempura TENTEN specializes in tendon and ramen. 

The restaurant is decked out in earthy hues complete with wooden tables and chairs. Seats are pretty limited, so it can get really crowded during lunch and dinner. So come down early to avoid long waiting time. 

This is the Tempura TENTEN’s original tendon, known as Special Tendon [$13.80]. There may be slight variations, but it’s normally 2 pieces of prawn tempura, shiitake mushroom, seaweed tempura, long bean tempura, pumpkin tempura, bacon tempura and a piece of cheesy chicken tempura which is really the highlight of this tendon dish. I like that the tempura are fried fresh upon order, coupled with fragrant Japanese rice from Hokkaido and sweet tendon sauce, makes for a tasty meal that you will come back to again and again. 

For those who want something a little special can opt for Unatendon [$19.80] where a piece of prawn tempura is swapped with a whole piece of grilled eel. The eel is well-marinated with sweet soy sauce and grilled till slightly charred on the outside.

I like the Special Tendon and Unatendon but the Jumbo Prawn Tendon [$24.80, limited to 10 bowls a day] takes the cake. It’s much more expensive than the rest, but you get three huge prawns, each one bigger than the length of my hand. The body of the prawns are coated in a light layer of batter and fried till crispy. Each bite fills your whole mouth with the delicious sweetness of the juicy meat. The prawn heads are so throughly fried, it’s almost like eating prawn crackers (albeit very expensive prawn crackers). 

I had a bowl of yuzu ramen in Japan and the lingering fragrance of yuzu left a lasting impression on me. Not many restaurants in Singapore sells yuzu ramen so I was really excited to try Tempura TENTEN’s Yuzu Chashu Ramen [$14.80], but I am greatly disappointed. Light chicken broth is paired with 3 slices of pork chashu, chopped spring onions , two halves of flavored egg, marinated lemon rind and a dollop of citrus sauce. The pork chashu is rather tough and the long, straight and thin noodles tasted a little chalky and does not go well with the chicken broth. Add in the citrus sauce sparingly, it is really salty and adding the whole thing into your broth will destroy your ramen. 

Tendon, Vegetable Kakiage Tendon and Unadon are available for takeaway. Takeaways can be pre-ordered with the new cutQ app. 

Comparing Tempura TENTEN to the popular Tempura Kokaku in Suntec City, I prefer Tempura TENTEN’s tendon which are not as oily and the tendon sauce is not drizzled on top of the tempura making them a little soggy. 

Tempura TENTEN
Address: 252 North Bridge Road, Raffles City Shopping Centre #B1-13
Telephone: 63367457
Opening Hours: Daily 11am - 10pm (Last Order 9.30pm)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

52 Sandwich Shack - Cheesy Sandwiches at Basement of Raffles City Shopping Centre

I have watched Say Chiizu Toast’s video on Facebook when it went viral on Facebook a few months ago and the stretchy cheese sandwich left a deep impression on me.  Ever since then, I was on the lookout for news of this grilled cheese’s entry into Singapore. 

I was walking around the basement of Raffles City Shopping Centre one day when I saw that the spot previously occupied by Koki Tamagoyaki has been replaced by 52 Sandwich Shack and its 52 Grilled Cheese looks pretty similar to Say Chiizu Toast. 

52 Sandwich Shack offers 6 sandwiches, namely 52 Grilled Cheese [$6.90], Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese [$7.90], Yakiniku Pulled Pork [$8.90], Sliced Beef with Onsen Egg [$11.90], Teriyaki Chicken [$9.90] and Truffles ‘N’ Mushroom [$9.90]. The helpful staff told me that the first 3 sandwiches are the most popular, so that’s what I brought.

52 Grilled Cheese [$6.90] is the classic original version. Three types of cheese are used: cheddar for its popularity among Singaporeans, mozzarella for the stretchy pull of cheese and fontina to balance out the flavors. It is best eaten hot so you get the satisfaction of the gooey cheese in your mouth and it is also the best time to take a picture of the cheese pull. I like the combination of the 3 cheeses that makes it cheesy but not overly heavy on the stomach.

I am a little disappointed with the Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese [$7.90]. I can hardly taste the bacon and the 3 cheeses totally cancelled out the mac and cheese. It is more like “52 Grilled Sandwich with Macaroni”. 

Yakiniku Pulled Pork [$8.90] is the most interesting of the three. Shredded pork is marinated in homemade yakiniku that gives the meat a delicious sweetness. Paired with the 3 cheeses and buttered brioche, the sweetness of the pork goes well with the cheeses, making this a tasty meal of its own. 

Besides sandwiches, 52 Sandwich Shack also serves breakfast from 8.30am to 11am. There are 3 options for choose from: Sausage Set [$3.90], Bacon Set [$3.90] and Confit Salmon Set [$4.90] where sausage, bacon and smoked salmon is served alongside mushroom, scramble egg, brioche and hash brown. 

Although 52 Sandwich Shack is not Say Chiizu Toast, it does offer some pretty decent sandwiches which make for a tasty light meal or snack. Oh yes, Shuu puffs are still available at 3 for $12. 

52 Sandwich Shack 
Addesss: 252 North Bridge Road, Raffles City Shopping Centre #B1-54, Singapore 170103
Telephone: 69202922
Opening Hours: Daily 10am - 10pm

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lunch at Tomi Sushi

I have visited Tomi Sushi back in 2016 and the delicious Japanese food left me with fond memories. 

Tomi Sushi was founded in Niigata in 1954 and has since opened 14 outlets in Japan. Singapore is Tomi Sushi's first overseas expansion with a total of 4 outlets at Millenia Walk, Novena Square (Velocity), Katong V and Cuppage Terrace.

Tomi Sushi offers Lunch Menu featuring value-for-money set meals starting from $20. The Promotions menu showcases promotional items such as Hegi Soba [$9], Hokkaido Melon [$15] and Hiyaoroshi no Jozen [$25 for 300ml, $60 for 720ml].

Start your meal with one of the detectable starters such as this Kaki Fried [$15]. 5 pieces of succulent oysters are coated with Japanese bread crumbs (panko) and deep-fried till they turn a beautiful golden brown. The creamy oyster and the crispy exterior comes together perfectly to create a delicious starter. 

If you want to have a taste of everything, you should definitely get the Sushi Bento [$38]. You get 5 pieces of sushi, 5 pieces of prawn and vegetable tempura, grilled salmon, Japanese pickles, chawamushi, miso soup and fresh fruits. 

Another set to consider is the Nigiri Sakura [$28] set. 5 pieces of freshly-made sushi and 2 pieces of chicken karaage is accompanied by salad, chawanmushi, miso soup and fresh fruits. 

If you are a sashimi lover, you will definitely enojoy Chirashi Lunch [$25]. Fragrant Japanese rice is topped with tuna, salmon, scallop and shrimp, topped with flying fish roe and tamagoyaki. The sashimi are super fresh! 

Tomi Sushi is a great place to have quality Japanese cuisine at affordable prices. 

All information such as addresses, telephone, opening hours and menus can be found on their here