Kilo at Pact

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This one’s specially for Felix(:

I had been meaning to come here, though to me, Orchard Central isn’t the most particularly ideal destination. All these escalators, all these random jutting corners, as if the designers only thought properly about the layout after it was all set up and built. But fusion food? I was up for the stuff. And so was he.

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Donburi salmon rice bowl (all rice bowls come with sweet corn, radishes, sugar peas, wasabi sprouts, shimeji mushrooms and cherry tomatoes) – $17
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salmon avocado ‘sushiro’– $17

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They are currently having a set lunch promotion, whereby you can get either a salad, sushiro (I love how they do a nice play on our grotesque accents here) or rice bowl, together with a citrus iced tea and a choice between two desserts– basil panna cotta or a lemon tart with fresh cream. All for around $20++. Since we were in a rush for a movie (I teared up an embarrassing amount during The Fault in Our Stars, though I might have enjoyed it more if it weren’t for the mediocre book), we just ordered two mains, but each was satisfying enough!

I thoroughly enjoyed my donburi salmon rice bowl, a relatively new addition to the menu. They also offer pork belly, beef short-rib and roasted vegetables with tofu options. The salmon could have been more tender and with a little teriyaki marination, for otherwise it was a little dry and bland. You know, it’s always easy to put ‘sweet corn’ in the menu, and I could almost imagine them pouring the bright yellow stuff out from a can, but these kernels were as crunchy as the almost-burnt crusts of toast and as sweet as can be. The avocado was a nice touch, but it was a little lonely green sliver amongst the mounds of superior vegetables, and should have been accompanied by some sauce or other– I’d say a sweet soya or shabu-shabu variety. Anything, really. The highlight of the whole thing was most certainly those sweet, marinated shimeji mushrooms. Tender, sweet and fresh, and paired perfectly with the more hardy stance of brown rice. I chose brown because I enjoy its chewy wholesomeness and frankly I get enough sushi rice in my life already. Everything was dandy, but a little overpriced. 17 bucks demands serious business for a bowl of rice, fish and vegetables. Let’s be real.

That being said, the portions were perfectly satisfying, and I think I shall return for the set lunch option. The sushiro Lix ordered was proper huge, served with nacho-style chips (which I thought needed more seasoning, whatever brand they’re sourced from), and wasabi and soy. The ambience here is lovely; there was gorgeous, soft light streaming through the wide top-to-toe windows that early afternoon, but they could do with more tables to accommodate more people.

One thing is for sure though– lunches with this guy are the best.

 

 

Rating: 4.4/5.0

Kilo at Pact

#02-16/18
Orchard Central
Singapore

 

 

 

Bistro du Vin (feat. the best salted caramel dessert)

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Good food is magical. Surreal, almost, if the ambience and company is right. This is a long, long, long overdue post, but it took me a ridiculously long time as well to think of the perfect way to showcase it. Yes, it is my fault. Felix’s birthday was in the beginning of May, and this lunch was meant to celebrate that special date, his special 17th, and look, it’s already mid-June. He suggested this place and I just couldn’t say no, considering it was one of those quaint little corners I just always passed, always beckoning for a visit, and I just chant, ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’. Cue the quaintest little red corner and vintage French comic strips lining the low walls of this adorable hideout. The man you see above was quietly nibbling away at something or another, occasionally looking out the window, reminding me of the pleasures of dining on quality food alone. I wasn’t alone, but I was with the best ever company in the world.  Those fresh, coarse locks and brown seafoam eyes are my vice. Second to none. No, there was no better company.

I’ll be frank– he’s more francophile than anglophile. I’m the opposite, or so I claim, but one cannot deny the gracious experience some spectacular French fare can provide. Honestly, guys, look at those beautiful diamond-rectangle slabs of fatty beauty below. Is that not one of the most gorgeous sights ever to exist? Bistro du Vin provides set lunches of superb quality and such decent prices. By the end of it all, and that was, what, a good 2 hours later, I was more than satisfied. And my wallet, for once, wasn’t crying out in pain.

pan fried foie gras (extra $8 with pickled onion and eggplant)
pan fried foie gras (extra $8 with pickled onion and eggplant)

Alex sees onions, Alex sees nothing else.

The foie gras was wonder on a plate. Moist, perhaps not as fatty as it could have been (I’m thinking Au Petit Salut’s moreish version right now). The caramelised, pickled onions were sweet and glazed, offering good contrast to the steamy, superabundance of I-cut-like-butter fat. Two slices was perhaps a bit much, considering there were still two full courses to go. The full effects were weighing down like stale jelly in my stomach by the time I was through with the first few bites. In a sort of pleasant way. How odd.

baked camembert with smoked bacon, apple and toasted sourdough
baked camembert with smoked bacon, apple and toasted sourdough

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His appetiser: soft, creamy, probably still mooing. The mild flavour of the cheese worked well with the hardy sourdough crust, the sourdough providing a pleasant, light sourness, and the cooked apple and salty hit of bacon. Once again, practically a meal in itself.

bouillabaise of fish, clams, mussels and prawns
bouillabaisse of fish, clams, mussels and prawns

This was my main, which was more filling than it looks. The broth was soft yet hearty, brimming with all flavours of the sea. The fish, and sadly I forgot to ask what sort it was, was overcooked and dry (which was probably why I didn’t bother to ask in the first place). Everything else was… Decent, I should say, with mediocre-tasting prawns, which were also a little too hard, and little clams and mussels. The hero was that sultry broth which managed to sufficiently flavour all the components. Thick and saturated, yum.

baked pear tart on puff pastry with salted caramel ice cream
baked pear tart on puff pastry with salted caramel ice cream

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In other words, the best part of the set lunch.

In other words, the best salted caramel ice cream I have ever tasted, beating the one at Wimbly Lu and Habitat Coffee, which I love but cower in the face of this divine beauty. It melted like a withering caramel crystal on top of a crusty disc of flaky puff pastry, lovingly studded with delicate slivers of sweet pear, all thick and almost reluctant to give in to the pressure of my fork. A dream. The sort of dish which, even right now as I type with shaky fingers due to the single memory of its perfection, makes me weak at the knees. The sort of dish which you delight in eating even after all the ice cream has melted and has deflated and saturated the pastry, because you are a child once again revelling in the silly joy that is soggy, sweet stodge.

crème brûlée
crème brûlée

His clever choice. Can you see the fine smatterings of vanilla bean evenly dispersed throughout its creamy, provocative belly? The top crackled, the brûlée a sharp crowning of a most luxurious wobble!

I can’t, won’t, shan’t ever forget this lunch. One of the best set meals I have ever had, quality surpassing expectations, with only a few mishaps here and there. All for only $30++ (I hate how they charge $8 for the additional onions though– that’s just a necessity and there’s no denying it).

I usually don’t say this, but I’m highly inclined to come again.

 

Rating: 4.8/5.0

Bistro du Vin

1 Scotts Road, #02-12, Shaw Centre / 56 Zion Rd

Singapore 228208 / 247781

 

Halia (Raffles Hotel)

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Yeah, um. You see that? I’m not even starting with a decent introduction to the place. Instead I just thrust their sticky toffee date pudding in your faces because I believe that’s what you deserve as a perfectly decent introduction. So now yes, I proclaim this a decent introduction. I hope that’s alright. And because I believe in revolting carnal pleasure before anything less provocative gets in the way. Halia at Raffles Hotel, or in other words that place I always pass by whilst brisk walking with my Dad in the Botanic Gardens, except this time it’s at the oldest hotel in the country. I’ll just run you through this pudding real quick.

Sticky toffee date pudding –$10

Honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Ok so, when it came, I thought it looked a little boring. Average-sized flattened cuboid with some probably average vanilla ice cream for tradition’s sake. Ha, wrong again. It undoubtedly beat the one from Marmalade Pantry, in terms of texture and sweetness level. This tongue can’t take too much of a sugar overload, I swear. Yes, even I. It could shrivel up and die. This was surprisingly moist, although the banana bread appearance could be refined. Moist, dense, with the right amount of aeration to soak up all the cool vanilla and warm, sweet caramel, like a brown child grovelling on sticky ground for some fair-weather pleasure. I particularly enjoyed the slight addition of sea salt and homemade (yes, yes) butterscotch.

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Chilli crab dip with toasted baguette– $14

Deep fried squid, with spring onion lime syrup dip and piquant mayo– $14

Pork sausage and mash (from kids menu)

Fried bocconcini, roast red onion, capsicum and mesclun salad with balsamic – $17

Alright, I didn’t know the fare here was going to be that impressive. The mother and I shared the three starters; that chilli crab dip was divine- mildly spicy, creamy, well-textured with the even slivers of fresh crab meat. Ugh, yum, especially with the oh-so sophisticatedly toasted baguette. Eat it slow, or you may get a crabby overdose with no room for any of the other rather amazing stuff. The bocconcini (mozzarella) salad was a perfectly petite size, offering crunch and serious stringiness, as you may see in the photo above. Yeah, that was vulgar stringiness. Thank goodness for the tart and lemony salad, or the little fried balls by themselves would have been plain, old, trite things. As for the squid, what was most intriguing was the sauces they served it with. Hello, sweet pairings (?). I was confused, then intrigued, then pleased. I used the two dips as an excuse for the baguette, because I thought it’s toasted, airy texture fit the soaking process more, and made the whole experience of dip and eat more enjoyable. I picked at some of my sister’s sausage and mash, almost scoffing at the putrid size (who was I to judge, it was a damn kids option for goodness sake), but was shocked at the aromatic, whipped velvet of white, speckled mash, and juicy, well done pork sausage. It didn’t even need a sauce reduction!

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62.5 degrees C poached eggs with roma tomato, baby spinach and herb butter sauce on toasted brioche– $20 (my mother is a vegetarian so we passed on the extra mortadella and pistachio ham).

Basically one of the highlights of my life. I mean, of the day. You know, it runs the same route.

Here’s another one of my little stories. So I move the golden slab of brioche a little, very, very little on the plate, and then boom. The beautiful little pregnant egg, so delicate and translucent that you can feel the yolk tremble and weep underneath the 0.01mm thick membrane of white, dropped its belly to the white ground. These guys were so careful to poach it at this precise temperature, under such precise conditions, yielding the most vulnerable, scared little egg. Oh, poor egg. Oh, beautiful, poor egg. But weak it was not. It survived not just one, but two falls, after some clumsy knife handling on my part once again. It finally let its inhibitions go once I stroked the surface with my knife, as if that force alone actually beat that of the ground-hitting phase. Really. Yolk everywhere. It was a beautiful, carnal mess.

Mushed it all up. I let the brioche go soggy, let the tomato and spinach drink up the sunny hues of yolk, yolk and more yolk. The fresh, cooked vegetables, bouncy, lovely-textured mushrooms and balsamic-glazed red onions paired the rich egg-and-herbed butter combo perfectly. Every moment was one spent in sanctimony, I tell you.

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Rating: 4.83/5 (I like complicated decimals)

The Halia at Raffles Hotel

1 Beach Road
#01-22/23 Raffles Hotel
Singapore 189673
Tel: +65 9639 1148

Guys, I love eggs.

Department of Caffeine

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Special reservation for one, please.

To say I was happy to finally arrive at this little brown-hued nook is a severe, severe understatement. I had been meaning to visit for a full year, believe it or not. The urge was uncontrollable, and now being the holidays, I found myself a pathetic excuse to go all the way to somewhere like Tanjong Pagar just to be woken up, enlightened, seduced by a cuppa joe and (fingers crossed) good brunch fare. Even though I had breakfast. But still. This will only be a half review since I went alone, armed with a frown-faced stomach and On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (finished the whole thing in that one sitting). If I ordered anything more, such as their acclaimed and gorgeous buttermilk waffles (those come in all varieties, they even have valrhona chocolate ones with honey butterscotch?!), I might have received one too many a glare. The fact that I appear a weirdly skinny alien to many won’t help. The irony would have been annoying, and might’ve put my own stomach to shame. I should also like to note that they spelt butterscotch wrongly (please refer to the first picture), which tainted my first impression of the place, as spelling and grammar is of utmost importance in any state or occasion. To me at least. Come on. Scotch.

Anyways.

Caffé Mocha– $5.50

Smoked Salmon and baby spring onion scrambled eggs on toasted English muffin with brown butter– $15.50 (NEW! They said)

The Caffé Mocha, in other words Mr. childish mock version of a proper capp, was of a rich, plump brew, though the caffeine knob could have been turned up just that bit more. Wonderful, was my first thought. I should have remembered my unkind intolerance to milky, more sweet or chocolatey coffee though. The funny thing was, this substantial cup of warm, rich mocha came a considerable amount of time after my food came, which was confusing and admittedly rather disconcerting. It’s fine if it’s the other way round, for you can ponder your ongoing life crises whilst trying to appear demure as you sip at the cup’s brim, taking in the more comforting aroma, letting your ashen thoughts dissolve in the steam and liquid right under your foam-tipped nose. Ah, and if you want some seriously professional latte art, this is the place to come to. Lovely, but after a while, perhaps due to the chemistry of the chocolate-infused brew, the top was splotched with popped air bubbles, and my once-beautiful swan faded into the deep chocolate of the river it was contained in.

I was debating whether to order the scrambled eggs or the smoked salmon quiche with a large side salad. There were the waffles, but I knew it would be a waste if I didn’t finish it. And I knew they had French toast, stuffed with all sorts of wonderful like maple syrup bananas and greek yoghurt with berries, but I came to the heart-numbing realisation that it was just not available that day.

Pain, pain. But a quiche, Alex, is not nearly as exotic as something with brown butter, I told myself. It was that, the smoked salmon and words ‘baby onion’ which made me decide to spend a painful 15 bucks. 15.50! I made a careful note to not shell out all my savings before this mid-term break. The plate arrived within 10 minutes, which was impressive, the steam rising up like wispy gaseous intestines (remember that I’m the worst with descriptions. Remember). The scrambled eggs were of a bright and buttery hue, mellow but shining with the purity of fresh eggs, whipped to perfection with some cream and great lashings of butter, I supposed. The smoked salmon was not in the least bit too salty and complemented the rest of the dish so kindly, so perfectly. Even the side salad was lovingly dressed up with a tart lemon vinaigrette, to spice up and add a cutting contrast to the heavier, denser flavours of English muffin stodge and buttery egg. Then again, it was that English muffin which had a little bit of a problem. Perfectly toasted, a generous size, but to be frank, soggy.

I said it. Soggy. I appreciated the usage of brown butter here, though to be fair they could have done the browning process a little longer (and let my coffee come first, ha) to bring out the signature nutty notes of well-done brown butter. Its craggy loveliness, akin to the texture I had this morning for my first breakfast (which I slathered with almond butter, honey, banana and cinnamon y-u-m), was totally destroyed due to the heavy-handedness of the butter. Too much of it made the otherwise nicely crisp inside a mushy mess, and this was exacerbated by the moisture of the smoked salmon and slick golden scramble which lay like lazy bums on top.

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The components served to feed off each other in the best possible way. Just that… muffin. Just that. I would come here again for that damn French toast, waffles and coffee. And for goodness’ sake, some friends.

Rating: 4.75/ 5.0

15 Duxton Rd, 089481
6223 3426

Café hopping is annoyingly expensive. I do this in the name of coffee. I do this in the name of good and beautiful food. I do this…

Pietrasanta the Italian Restaurant

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Can I be completely honest here? I’m not one who would willingly live my life on pizza and pasta. Italian food is magnificent; its rustic and hearty authenticity can awaken the dead and magnetise them back to wooden tables by a fire on a cold night, the red-and-white checkered tablecloths abound with bruschetta and coarsely-cut garlic bread and moon-sized pizzas just for extra hearty assurance.

I’ll start off with that tomato sauce starter there. A little cup of salty heaven, looking down on all Ketchup-derived descendants around the world. Dip a little bit of bread in it, or drink it straight. Shot or slow, that’s up to you. I like to dip my finger in every now and again. That’s just me.

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Margherita (Italian mozzarella with basil leaves in tomato sauce)- $16.90

Prosciutto E Funghi (Italian mozzarella, cooked ham and button mushrooms in tomato sauce)- $18.90

The pomodoro pasta you see at the top was a special request by the kids, otherwise they usually only serve lasagna, a hefty portion of beautiful noodle and melting, sweet meat. The pizzas are all thin-crust but burst with the appropriate flavours with each bite. Tomato comes through like the shining opera singer, but doesn’t crack any windows. I prefer the funghi version, only because less cheese and more fungi (how weird do I sound) is my thing. The whole idea of button mushrooms usually turns me off, but its bouncier, firmer texture as opposed to something like shitake or chanterelle worked superbly with the melting cheese and tomato.

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Zappa Di Pesce (Fresh seafood soup) –$15.90

Italian tomato, rocket and parma ham salad– $14.90

Burrata and smoked scamorza– not sure of the price as this was a simple, special request

Squid ink fettuccine with crab meat sauce– $20.90 (In other words, my favourite dish)

Home-made fettuccine with sausage and truffle– $24.90

Now then. Would you LOOK at that burrata? It’s hard to get something produced fresh and seasonal wrong, but God, they never go wrong with the burrata. Cold, pure and oozing like uncontrollable organ spillage. I should seriously reconsider food blogging with my abhorrent descriptions. But honestly, it’s actually one of the most beautiful things in the universe, coupled with good balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and ripe Italian tomato. Parma ham if you want, but let’s not forget to worship the purity of that bone-white baby burrata.

If it wasn’t for the heady richness the sausage fettuccine offered, I would say that it would be the best of the lot. But the lolling tongues of fettuccine and achingly creamy sauce served to appease much of the obesity resistance movement of my stomach, and it just gets too much after about 5 minutes. The squid ink, on the other hand, is lighter, but darker, if you know what I mean. A decadent smorsgabord of savoury umami flavour, grounded by the honest humility of an experienced pasta maker. Homemade, they say? Homemade it really is.The crab meat is the best part, juicy and chunky, and makes for a nice break when you’re not looking in your lady’s mirror desperately scrubbing away at your blackened teeth.

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A mash up of my uncle’s Ossobucco con gremolada (four-hour braised veal shank–$32.90) and Risotto Porcini (risotto with porcini, saffron and bone marrow–$23.90)

If you know me well, I prefer the supposedly icky gelatinous bits and bobs of an animal to the meat itself- bone marrow, fish eyes, blubber, cartilage, fat trimmings, you name it, I’ll have it. I’m basically the hopeless bottom feeder. The tender braised meat is absolute divinity, and it paired wonderfully (surprisingly too, for the pairing was spontaneous, I tell you that) with the rich, aromatic risotto, yellow, fat, plump little pearls. Al dente, with an almost smoky air about it.

And lastly, tiramisu. I’m not associating a price with it, because, well, tiramisu. I don’t think this is the best around, for the sponge could have done with a more luxurious and thorough caffeine and rum spa. A little dry, a little too sweet. The cocoa was decadent, but didn’t mask a less-than-rich interior.

Reliable Sunday lunch resort.

Rating: 4.8/5

Pietrasanta

5B Portsdown Road
#01-03 Singapore 139311
Tel: +65 6479 9521