Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Oh My Cafe - Korean Fusion Food, Korean Temple Food and Korea Strawberry Drinks

At first glance, Oh My Cafe at the basement of Westgate looks like a dreamy fairytale-themed cafe. Take a look at its menu and you will realize that it is actually a Korean restaurant. 

I have been eyeing this restaurant for many months now, but I can’t find anyone who is willing to come to Jurong East to try out a new restaurant. It was my childhood friend’s birthday a few weeks ago and we agreed to meet to catch-up. She wanted to eat something healthy so I brought her to Oh My Cafe. 

If there is one thing that draws me to a restaurant, it is a menu with beautiful pictures. 

Oh My Cafe’s menu is loaded with high-resolution pictures, blown up so you can see every minute detail. There is a photograph of every dish on the menu, so that you know exactly what you are ordering. 

The photographs are so well-taken, I had to curb the urge to steal the menu and frame all the food photographs in my room. If I ever want to open a restaurant, I will make sure I get the photographer who took Oh My Cafe’s photographs.

For starters, we ordered Jamon Pharma Ham Salad [$11] which is one of the new salads on the menu. Jamon (dry-cured ham from Spain), parma ham, parmesan cheese, cubed watermelon is laid on top of a bed of mixed vegetables. Served with mango mousse dressing, it is light and so utterly delicious. The ham is not too salty, the mango mousse dressing is light and fluffy and the watermelon cubes adds to its sweetness. 

Truffle Noodle with Grilled Octopus [$16] is another one of the new additions to the menu. The ramyeon is cleverly infused with truffle oil, topped with a huge grilled octopus tentacle. The octopus is soft and juicy and the accompanying grilled vegetables makes it heathier. 

This is what attracted me to Oh My Cafe in the first place - Korean Temple Food. I have always thought temple food is just a bowl of plain rice with a few miserable-looking piece of boiled vegetables and maybe a bowl of plain tofu soup. Definitely not this delicate bowl of rice surrounded by small plates of vegetables that I see on the poster.  

I decided to find out for myself and ordered the Korean Temple Food [$13]. I was initially a little worried that it might be a very big portion but it is actually just nice for 1 person. The bowl of mixed grain rice is topped with pickled brinjal and burdock root. There are 8 small plates of vegetables - burdock root in sesame sauce, pickled lotus root, pickled sliced cucumber, pickled sliced potato and carrot, pickled mushroom, pickled cherry and fried mushroom. I like some of them more than others, but it is perfectly delicious overall. 

We all know that Korean strawberries are big and sweet, but did you know that eating strawberries can give you a lot of benefits too? Some of the 11 benefits of strawberry are anti-aging, prevents cancer and boosts immunity. Oh My Cafe has created a range of strawberry drinks called Korea Strawberry in Strawberry. Since I am a strawberry-lover myself, I decided to treat myself to their signature Oh My Special [$8.80]. Sadly, they ran out of their strawberries, so what I got in the end is actually Juice [$6.40]. This is not your run-of-the-mill strawberry juice that you get from juice stalls. This is the real stuff. It’s really more like a smoothie, I wonder how many Korean strawberries goes into the making of one cup of this. There are many pieces of real strawberries in there too. Strawberry-lovers will go gaga over this drink. 

Oh My Cafe even has its own retail space at the back of the restaurant. You can find your favourite Korean snack and drinks. There are also cute socks in many designs selling at 3 for $10. 

Oh My Cafe is a restaurant that I wouldn’t mind visiting time and again. There are frequent new additions to the menu. The beautifully-designed menu is a treat to the eyes and the food mixes has a good variety of both traditional Korean fare and modern fusion dishes. 

Oh My Cafe 
Address: 3 Gateway Drive, Westgate #B1-01, Singapore 608532
Telephone: 86509292
Opening Hours: Daily 10am - 10pm

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

TP Tea (Suntec City) - New Bubble Tea Shop in Suntec City That Has TieGuanYin Latte and Pearl Milk Tea Softserve Ice Cream

Bubble tea was introduced into Singapore from Taiwan in 1992 and it shows no sign of slowing down. Bubble tea shops are popping up all over Singapore like mushrooms. 

I am personally not a fan of bubble tea. I still feel that bubble tea is just weak tea with lots of sugar. But after my recent visit to Taipei where I had a cup of bubble tea that blew me away, I thought I would give bubble tea another chance. 

So when this new bubble tea shop TP Tea from Taiwan decided to open up in Suntec City, I decided to give it a go. I mean, a bubble tea shop that uses “tie guan yin” can’t be that bad, right? Moreover, it is from Taiwan, the land of bubble tea. 

I got the 3 bestsellers and took them back to share with my colleagues. 

Pearl Milk Tea [$3.90] is the most basic of bubble tea. I recommend big pearls go to with this, so that you have something to chew on. The milk tea is smooth albeit a little thin. I was really expecting the thick and rich kind of milk tea that I had in Taipei, so I was a little disappointed. 

TieGuanYin Tea Latte [$4.60] is the bestseller of this bubble tea shop, probably due its novelty. You don’t see many bubble tea shop using tieguanyin as the tea base for bubble tea because it is a pretty strong tea. TP Tea has done a good job in blending the milk so that it takes away the bitterness of the tea, but that made the taste not as rich. 

Pearl Black Tea Latte with Red Bean [$5.30] is something new in bubble tea (or maybe it’s just that I seldom drink bubble tea). The bubble tea base is still a little weak, but the addition of red bean makes the drink more interesting. 

TP Tea has come up with something entirely new - Pearl Milk Tea Softserve Ice Cream [$3.60]. This is the first time I am seeing milk tea in the form of softserve ice-cream. Served with small pearls, it really tastes like milk tea! I thought the idea of combining of milk tea with softserve ice-cream is pretty ingenious. 

The tea are imported from Taiwan, so why doesn’t Singapore’s bubble tea have that robust richness that I experienced in Taipei? Maybe we should send all the staff to Taipei for training before they start working in bubble tea shops in Singapore. Till then, I will have my occasional cup of bubble tea when I visit Taipei again. 

TP Tea (Suntec City) 
Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall #01-312 West Wing, Singapore 038983

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen - New Hokkaido Chicken Ramen Restaurant That is Halal Certified

A-One Claypot House at the basement of Suntec City Mall has been recently replaced with a new ramen restaurant called Ichikokudo Ramen. 

Whenever I think of Hokkaido ramen, the image that comes to mind is that of Sapporo ramen with its thick curly yellow noodles and miso-based broth. 

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen offers chicken broth ramen. Eat at Seven’s Menya Takeichi serves a really delicious chicken ramen, so I was left with a favorable impression of chicken ramen. 

This is their signature Ichikokudo Ramen [$9.90]. The broth is made with chicken bones which are simmered for long hours, which is then mixed with a bonito, mackerel and unami (made from Hokkaido kelp) blend. The broth is not as thick as its pork counterpart but just as rich and flavorful. 

The noodles are made with a special blend of flour that includes Hokkaido wheat. This is supposed to male the noodles more textured and firm but I personally find the noodles a little soft. 

Served with ajitsuke tamago (Japanese flavored egg), bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, chashu and aosa seaweed to evoke aroma of the Hokkaido sea. 

Seafood lovers will like the Hokkaido Clams Ramen [$14.90] where the sweetness of the clams and the richness of Hokkaido butter gives this ramen a nice touch. Some of the clams are not cleaned thoroughly enough, there may still be sand in the clams so do be careful. 

Ichikokudo Ramen comes in many variations such as Ichi-Smoked Duck Ramen [$12.90], Ichi-Beef Ramen [$12.90], Ichi-Hokkai Veggies Ramen [$11.90], Ichi-Garlic Ramen [11.90] and Ichi-Ramen Gifts From The Sea [$18.90]. 

There are also broths that combines the ichikokudo chicken broth with daichi tomato, hokkai jigoku (spicy miso), hokkai seafood and Shoyu Ramen. 

Besides ramen, Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen also offers donburi karaage and donburi toji sets such as this Special Tartar Sauce Karaage Don [$10.90] pictured above. I find the karaage a tad salty but it is a satisfying meal all in all.

Hokkaido Butter Clams [$6.90] are only lukewarm by the time it reaches my table. The addition of the Hokkaido butter gives the clams a richness that sets it apart from other clam dishes. 

Although gyoza is not Ichikokudo Hokkaido Hokkaido Ramen’s specialty, this Ichikokudo Grilled Gyoza [$6.90] is not bad at all. The pork filling inside is moist and tender while the skin is grilled till slightly charred.

I must say that they are pretty generous with the number of slices of salmon given for the Salmon Sashimi [$7.90]. It’s not the best type of salmon, but it will do for a quick craving fix.

Big Ebi Fry [$5.90] gives you three pieces of perfectly-fried prawn tempuras served with tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon. The prawns are not as “big” as advertised on the menu, they are medium-sized prawns at most. Well, at least the prawns are fresh. 

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen’s menu is a little lacking in the desserts section. There is only Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream [$2.90] with three flavors: vanilla, strawberry and matcha. I know that Hokkaido is known for its milk and all, but it would have been nice to have more variety of deserts to choose from. That being said,  the ice-cream is indeed silky-smooth and very rich. 

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen is a great ramen joint to try out if you are sick of the thick tonkotsu broth but still want a good bowl of ramen. Although the food may not be top-notch, but there is a fair bit of variety to cater to most patrons. 

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen 
Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard #B1-135 North Wing Singapore 038983
Telephone: 62730048
Opening Hours: Daily 11am - 3pm (last order 2.30pm); 5pm - 10pm (last order 9pm)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant - Affordable Japanese Buffet in Orchard Central

Eating is a national pastime in Singapore, as you can tell from the ever-increasing number of restaurants sprouting up all over the island. We like all kind of cuisines, but nothing beats a good buffet where we can enjoy an unlimited flow of food for a fixed price. 

Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant is one such buffet restaurant. Located on the 8th floor of Orchard Central, it offers more than 200 buffet items over 29 categories. Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant is part of Minor Food Group Singapore, just like Buffet Town International Buffet Restaurant

Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant’s pricing is fairly affordable, as listed below:

Lunch (11.30am - 3pm): Adult $22.80++; Child $12.80++
Dinner (6pm - 10pm): $33.80++; Child $15.80++

*Child refers to children of height 1.1 - 1.4m, children below 1.1m dine for free*

Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant is easily recognisable with its huge signage and the statue of a sumo wrestler. You will pay at the entrance based on the number of people before entering the restaurant. 

Every diner is entitled to a complimentary serving of the restaurant's seasonal treat of Japanese Baked Gratin  Oyster. You just have to take one of the black bracelets with bright yellow wording which reads "Limited Edition. Redeem One" to the redemption kiosk located at the back of the buffet spread. 

I personally find the Japanese Baked Gratin Oyster not that great. It would have tasted much better if it had been made upon order, but this pre-cooked version is only mildly warm. The cheese is all hardened and the oyster is all shrivelled-up from rounds of reheating.

I always start my meal at any buffet restaurant with sashimi and salmon. Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant’s sashimi and sushi counter is aptly named 新鲜刺身, which means “fresh sashimi”. There are four sashimi available: Tuna (Maguro), Salmon (Sake), Sliced Abalone (Awabi) and Shrimp (Ebi)

Different maki and nigiri sushi are neatly presented in a glass tower. 

There are also pre-mixed Japanese salads such as Seasoned Baby Octopus (Chuka Idako), Seasoned Jellyfish (Chuka Kurage) and Seaweed Salad (Chuka Walmart).

Fans of Japanese grill (robatayaki) and Japanese skewers (yakitori) can look forward to items such as Grilled Saba, Grilled Salmon Head and Smoked Duck

Vegetable tempura is known as “tempura yasai” in Japanese, where “yasai” means “vegetables” in Japanese. The variety changes daily but some of the common ones include eggplant tempura (nasu), shiitake tempura (shiitake), carrot tempura (ninjin) and green bean tempura (green beans / long bean). 

The tempura goes well with the cold buckwheat noodles located at a corner. 

Japanese Hot Pot, also known as nabemono, allows you to choose from a variety of fresh vegetables, meats and  ingredients. You just have to drop your table clip in the box and your hotpot will be delivered to your table. The hotpot is cooked in a small iron pot set on top of a portable stove. 

There is a small pot of Japanese Oden located at the corner of the cooked food section. It’s mainly radish (daikon), fishcakes and eggs in sweet daikon broth. 

The cooked food section has a good mix of Japanese, Western and local dishes. A few of my favorite dishes are Cauliflower with Cheese, Miso Beef Stew and White Clam with Spicy White Wine Sauce. 

Although this is a Japanese buffet restaurant, there are some Western dishes to add more variety to the spread. I highly recommend the Beef Bourguignon where the beef is tender and tastes divine with the rich aromatic red wine sauce. 

There are also pizzas (Chicken Pizza and Vegetarian Pizza), roasted Pork Collar and fried items. 

Dessert comes in many form at Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant, where you can puddings in small cute cups along side cakes and Japanese mochi. 

There is a Chocolate Fondue where you can dip marshmallows in the chocolate. I do wish there were more choices of dipping items besides just marshmallows, some fruits would have been nice. 

Most Singaporean should be familiar with the dessert called ice-kachang where various goodies are buried under a mountain of shaved ice, which is flavoured with sugar strips before serving. You can create your own version of Ice Kachang with the ingredients provided. 

There are five flavors of ice-cream to choose from - Strawberry, Goma, Matcha, Double Chocolate and Vanilla - and you can add from an assortment of garnishes such as peanuts and rainbow rice. 

For the health-conscious, there are freshly-cut Tropical Fruits such as watermelon, dragonfruit and oranges.  

There are freshly-made waffles with your choice of raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce or maple syrup. 

While Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant may not have the most innovative dishes or the premium-quality produce, it makes up with its large variety, affordable price and strategic location which gives you a birdeye view of Orchard Road. 

Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant
Address: 181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central #08-01/02/03, Singapore 238896
Telephone: 67361216
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 3pm (last order 2.30pm); 6pm - 10pm (last order 9.30pm)