Category Archives: Food Review

Singapore Restaurant Month to Celebrate SG50 – 50 restaurants present 50 unique dishes!

SG50 Singapore Restaurant MonthThe SG50 mood is catching up as the big day arrives in but a few days! And the festivities have moved to Singapore’s favourite passion… Food! 1st July 2015 to 10th August 2015 will be celebrated as Singapore Restaurant Month (organized by Restaurant Association of Singapore). The month will see 50 restaurants in Singapore provide local produce – eggs, fish and vegetable – transformed into 50 new dishes that in some way relate and represent Singapore thus, raising the culinary flag to make SG50 special! This magic number was selected in honour of Singapore’s Jubilee SG50 celebrations and RAS is proud to fly the culinary flag during this momentous year.

Among the 50 restaurants featured in this unique festival, 12 restaurants are heritage restaurants that have served Singapore for decades and have offered unique Singaporean food palate to citizens and expats, old and young! Given below is the list of participating restaurants and the unique newly-created dish each of them will offer for the limited period.

PARTICIPATING HERITAGE RESTAURANTS

Steamed Tilapia with Fried Garlic

Westlake – Steamed Tilapia with Fried Garlic

Westlake: In business for more than 40 years, Westlake specializes in Hokkein and Sichuan dishes. The restaurant will offer Steamed Tilapia with Fried Garlic from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: Block 4, Queen’s Road, Singapore 260004

Zi Yean Restaurant: This Cantonese special restaurant has been around for 35 years now and the restaurant will offer Wok-Fry Egg-White with Conpoy Top on Crackers from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: 56 Lengkok Bahru, Singapore 150056

Chin Lee - Passion of Garden City

Chin Lee – Passion of Garden City

Chin Lee Restaurant: This traditional Teochew restaurant participates in the Singapore Restaurant Month with Passion of Garden City featuring the fresh vegetable produce of Singapore from 17th July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: #01-285, 115 Bedok North Rd, Singapore 460115

Bee Heong Palace Restaurant: This old school Hokkien establishment is famous for their authentic flavours, lovely service and reasonable prices. The dish this restaurant offers is Steamed Premium Barramundi with Cordia Seeds available from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: 134 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068600

Fatty Weng - Crispy Fried Barramundi with Asparagus

Fatty Weng – Crispy Fried Barramundi with Asparagus

Fatty Weng Restaurant: Established in 1967, Fatty Weng’s biggest USP is their award winning Chef Lai Foo Weng who earned the name Fatty Weng from his loyal customers back then and the name pretty much caught on. The restaurant this festive month offers Crispy-fried Asparagus Fish from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at 37 Smith Street. Singapore 058950

Hua Yu Wee: Located in a landed property… Hua Yu Wee, located at East Coast offers their unique dish Lala Hor Fun from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: 462 Upper East Coast Rd, Singapore 466508

Gim Tim - Fragrant sauce with Wild Mushroom and Chinese Kai Lan

Gim Tim – Fragrant sauce with Wild Mushroom and Chinese Kai Lan

Gim Tim: The Cantonese restaurant has been in business for 40 years now and its most famous dish always has be smiling, just for the creativity of the name “Buddha Jumps Over the Wall”. This month Gim Tim will offer Fragrant sauce with Wild Mushroom and Chinese Kai Lan, something vegetarians can enjoy from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: Blk 157, Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 #01-546 Singapore 560157

Islamic Restaurant - Fish Beryani

Islamic Restaurant – Fish Beryani

Islamic Restaurant: One of the older restaurants in Singapore having seen the era from before the war, through the years of the Japanese occupation, the struggles after independence through to the golden era of SG50, this is a place to go for better biryani’s in Singapore. Islamic Restaurant offers Islamic Fish Biryani with egg. The restaurant is located at: 745 North Bridge Road Singapore 198713

Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant - Sautéed Bird's Nest with Egg White

Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant – Sautéed Bird’s Nest with Egg White

Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant: This restaurant has been around for over 35 years is probably the only revolving restaurant in Singapore. Offering what they call the Beijing cuisine, this festive month, the restaurant offers Sautéed Bird’s Nest with Egg White from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: 201 Keppel Road Singapore 099419

Red Star Restaurant: Started in 1970s the restaurant believes in economical tasty food and a rather nostalgic ambience. In the Singapore Restaurant Month, the restaurant pulls out Omelette Crispy Noodle with Prawns from their creative kitchen on offer from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: #07-23, Chin Swee Area Office, 54 Chin Swee Road, 160054

Spring Court - Yam Ring with Sweet and Sour Prawns

Spring Court – Yam Ring with Sweet and Sour Prawns

Spring Court Restaurant: Serving Singaporean Cuisine since 1929, it is one of Singapore’s oldest family restaurant. Located in in a 4-storey heritage shophouse, it’s a place to visit if you are in a mood to reminiscence Singapore’s past. You will find Yam Ring with Sweet and Sour Prawns on offer this month from 17 July to 2 August 2015. The restaurant is located at: 52-56 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058348

PARTICIPATING NON-HERITAGE RESTAURANTS

The specially prepared dish is available at these restaurants from 1 July to 10 August 2015.

Pu Tien - Singapore Cityscape

Pu Tien – Singapore Cityscape

Pu Tien: Hokkien cuisine – Singapore Cityscape

First Culinary - Braised Seabass with Cordyceps flower In Soya Bean Milk

First Culinary – Braised Seabass with Cordyceps flower In Soya Bean Milk

First Culinary Restaurant: Hong Kong cuisine – Braised Seabass with Cordyceps Flower In Soya Bean Milk.

Forest - Sri Lanka Crabmeat with Egg White

Forest – Sri Lanka Crabmeat with Egg White

Forest: Contemporary Chinese cuisine – Sri Lanka Crabmeat with Egg White”.

Hard Rock Cafe - Sea Of Love

Hard Rock Cafe – Sea Of Love

Hard Rock Café: American Cuisine – Sea of Love

JPOT - Chinese Steamboat

JPOT – Chinese Steamboat

JPOT: Chinese cuisine – Local Bayam

LingZhi - Vegetarian Singapore Rojak

LingZhi – Vegetarian Singapore Rojak

LingZhi Vegetarian: Vegetarian Chinese cuisine – Vegetarian Singapore Rojak

Malcolm Bistro - Classic Laksa Singapore

Malcolm Bistro – Classic Laksa Singapore

Malcolm Bistro: Fusion cuisine – Classic Laksa “Singapore”

Mamanda  -Ikan Bakar Temasek

Mamanda -Ikan Bakar Temasek

Mamanda: Malay cuisine – Ikan Bakar Temasek (Grilled Fish)

Osia (RWS) - 62 degree Hens Egg

Osia (RWS) – 62 degree Hens Egg

Osia: Australian cuisine – 62°C Hen’s Egg

Portico - 3 Grain Laksa Risotto, Homemade Pulau Ubin Seabass Fish cake

Portico – 3 Grain Laksa Risotto, Homemade Pulau Ubin Seabass Fish cake

Portico: Modern European cuisine – 3 Grain Laksa Risotto, Homemade Pulau Ubin Seabass Fish cake

RedDot Brewhouse - Laksa Italiano

RedDot Brewhouse – Laksa Italiano

RedDot Brewhouse: European cuisine – Laksa Italiano

Saha Signature Indian Restaurant & Terrace Bar - Stir Fried Tofu & Asparagus with Cumin & Turmeric

Saha Signature Indian Restaurant & Terrace Bar – Stir Fried Tofu & Asparagus with Cumin & Turmeric

Saha Signature Indian Restaurant & Terrace Bar: Indian cuisine – Stir Fried Tofu & Asparagus with Cumin & Turmeric

Seoul Garden - BBQ & Steamboat Buffet

Seoul Garden – BBQ & Steamboat Buffet

Seoul Garden: Korean cuisine – BBQ & Steamboat Buffet

Seoul Garden Hotpot  -Beef Bulgoggi Bibimbap

Seoul Garden Hotpot -Beef Bulgoggi Bibimbap

Seoul Garden Hotpot: Korean cuisine – Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap

Brewerkz - Satay Seafood Angel Hair Pasta

Brewerkz – Satay Seafood Angel Hair Pasta

Brewerkz: American cuisine – Satay Seafood Angel Hair Pasta.

Cafe Iguana - Pibil Pescado in Red Chile Sauce

Cafe Iguana – Pibil Pescado in Red Chile Sauce

Café Iguana: Mexican cuisine – Pibil Pescado in Red Chile sauce.

Seoul Yummy - Kare Stew

Seoul Yummy – Korean Kare Stew

Seoul Yummy Korean Casual Dining: Korean cuisine – Korean Kare Stew

Shin Yeh - Taiwanese-style Steamed Barramundi with Salted Pineapple

Shin Yeh – Taiwanese-style Steamed Barramundi with Salted Pineapple

Shin Yeh Restaurant: Taiwanese cuisine – Taiwanese-style Steamed Barramundi with Salted Pineapple

Si Chuan Dou Hua - Poached Vegetables with Mushroom, Bean Curd and Sliced Pork Belly Served in Paper Pot

Si Chuan Dou Hua – Poached Vegetables with Mushroom, Bean Curd and Sliced Pork Belly Served in Paper Pot

Si Chuan Dou Hua: Sichuan cuisine – Poached Vegetables with Mushrooms, Bean Curd and Sliced Pork Belly Served in Paper Pot

SUFOOD - Starry Pancakes

SUFOOD – Starry Pancakes

SUFOOD: Italian vegetarian – Starry Pancakes

Swensen's - Kicap Manis Glazed Grey Mullet

Swensen’s – Kicap Manis Glazed Grey Mullet

Swensen’s: American cuisine – Kicap Manis Glazed Grey Mullet

Syun - Uni Chawanmushi

Syun – Uni Chawanmushi

Syun: Contemporary Japanese cuisine – Uni Chawanmushi

The Scholar Chinese Restaurant - Oven Baked Spicy whole Sea-bass Coated Otak wrapped in Banana leaf

The Scholar Chinese Restaurant – Oven Baked Spicy whole Sea-bass Coated Otak wrapped in Banana leaf

The Scholar Chinese Restaurant: Chinese cuisine – Oven Baked Spicy whole Sea-bass Coated Otak wrapped in Banana leaf

Tim Palace - Black Tilapia with Hot and Sour Thick Soup in Claypot

Tim Palace – Black Tilapia with Hot and Sour Thick Soup in Claypot

Tim Palace: Chinese cuisine – Black tilapia with Hot and Sour thick soup in Claypot

Timbre - Laksa Marinated Crispy Barramundi

Timbre – Laksa Marinated Crispy Barramundi

Timbre @ The Substation, @ The Arts House, @ Gillman: Fuision cuisine – Laksa Marinated Crispy Barramundi on a bed of Bee Hoon Crackers

TungLok Seafood - Mix Seafood and Broccoli with Crab Roe served in Yam Basket

TungLok Seafood – Mix Seafood and Broccoli with Crab Roe served in Yam Basket

Tunglok Seafood: Chinese cuisine – Mix Seafood and Broccoli with Crab Roe served in Yam Basket

TungLok Signatures - Fried Barramundi with Shanghai-style Chilli Sauce

TungLok Signatures – Fried Barramundi with Shanghai-style Chilli Sauce

TungLok Signatures: Chinese cuisine – Fried Barramundi with Shanghai-style Chilli Sauce

TungLok Teahouse - Sweet & Sour Chrysanthemum Fish

TungLok Teahouse – Sweet & Sour Chrysanthemum Fish

TungLok Teahouse: Chinese cuisine – Sweet & Sour Chrysanthemum Fish

Yam's Kitchen - Lion City Hometown Fish Tail

Yam’s Kitchen – Lion City Hometown Fish Tail

Yam’s Kitchen: Chinese cuisine – Lion City Hometown Fish Tail

Yum Cha Restaurant in Chinatown - Stir-fried Crocodile Meat in Tropical Sauce

Yum Cha Restaurant in Chinatown – Stir-fried Crocodile Meat in Tropical Sauce

Yum Cha Restaurant at Chinatown: Chinese cuisine – Stir-fried Crocodile Meat in Tropical Sauce

Jumbo Seafood - Braised Barramundi with Bitter Gourd & Fermented Bean Paste in Claypot

Jumbo Seafood – Braised Barramundi with Bitter Gourd & Fermented Bean Paste in Claypot

JUMBO Seafood: Singapore/Chinese cuisine – Braised Barramundi with Bitter Gourd & Fermented Bean Paste in Claypot

Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant - Fried Baby Barramundi

Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant – Fried Baby Barramundi

Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant: Chinese cuisine – Fried Baby Barramundi

Restaurant Home - Steamed Grouper with Crispy Soya Bean Crumbs

Restaurant Home – Steamed Grouper with Crispy Soya Bean Crumbs

Restaurant HOME: Chinese cuisine – Steamed Grouper with Crispy Soya Bean Crumbs

Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine - Oyster Omelette

Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine – Oyster Omelette

Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine: Chinese cuisine Teochew Oyster Omelette “Gooey Style

The Flying Squirrel - Golden Onsen Egg

The Flying Squirrel – Golden Onsen Egg

The Flying Squirrel: Japanese cuisine – Golden Onsen Egg

Soup Spoon Union - Hainanese Fish Maw with Barramundi Noodle

Soup Spoon Union – Hainanese Fish Maw with Barramundi Noodle

The Soup Spoon Union: Fusion cuisine – Hainanese Fish Maw with Barramundi Noodle

Peach Garden Restaurant: Cantonese cuisine – Lobster Laksa

Click on the restaurant names to visit their websites. For updates on Singapore Restaurant Month, please click here.

This inaugural festival is organised by Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), with support from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Union Pay.

Advertisements

Fast Food for Thought – Perfect Place to have Breakfast… All day Long!

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought

I love casual café’s. You know those places where you can enjoy a well-made burger or freshly made fries… or even a simple bacon and egg brunch. And while Singapore has plenty of those, I hold a special place for Fast Food for Thought.

A quaint café situated on the arty Victoria Street… Fast Food for Thought is a perfect place to hang out for a leisurely brunch / lunch or just sit and read or as many SMU students do, study.

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought

The café is pretty interesting… especially the bright red outdoors. I love bright and shiny places… they surely say, we offer a warm welcome!

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought

The entire café has some really curious décor. Whether it is the glasses suspended from the ceiling or

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought

blackboard that spreads across the centre!

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought

They have a self-service counter. And no number system. So when you order, you usually indicate where you are seated and the server finds you with your order!

Coming to what they actually serve, here’s what I tried.

Salt and Pepper Fries @ Fast Food for Thought

Salt and Pepper Fries @ Fast Food for Thought

[1] Salt and Pepper Fries: The fries were freshly made… nice and crisp. Nothing to complain about and one thing I can tell you… it definitely sets the mood for the rest of the meal.

Basic Works @ Fast Food For Thought

Basic Works @ Fast Food For Thought

[2] Basic Works (All Day Breakfast): My all time favourite combination offered without any jazz! Scrambled eggs (they were really good), smoked bacon (crisp and fresh) and brioche toast. And all this for just S$ 8!

Bread and Butter Pudding @ Fast Food for Thought

Bread and Butter Pudding @ Fast Food for Thought

[3] Bread and Butter Pudding: Bread and butter pudding with chocolate buttons served with vanilla ice cream and generous sprinking of nuts! I have not had too many great bread puddings around, but this one is worth a try!

Few other dishes to try include their sweet breakfast options which include French toast, pancakes both of which are served with gula Melaka and vanilla ice-cream.

Fast Food for Thought

Fast Food for Thought

Apart from their food, they have some interesting bakery offerings such as their carrot cakes and chocolate mud cakes.

Fast Food for Thought

Fast Food for Thought

What’s more, they have some unique beer choices as well.

How much will it cost me: The three dishes cost me S$ 23. It is a reasonable place, considering they have a fair footfall of students from various colleges visiting them all day long.

Fast Food For Thought

Fast Food For Thought, Singapore

Verdict: They do have some killer breakfast offerings. I would recommend a definite visit, especially for their all day breakfast and desserts! It’s reasonably priced, the décor is welcoming. And finally, they have free wi-fi! I say it’s a whole package!

Address: 8, Queen Street, Singapore 188535

Time: Tue – Sun 11am to 7pm

Ice Cream Scoop Shop Dempsey Hill… Ben & Jerry’s Dessert Extravaganza!

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

Very few restaurants / eating joints manage to create an awe in me because they offer something I have not imagined or experienced. Ben & Jerry at Dempsey Hill is one such restaurant that makes me think “Hmmm if I had an ice cream/dessert joint, I would want it to be something like this!”

Out Side seating @ Ben & Jerry's, Dempsey Hill

Out Side seating @ Ben & Jerry’s, Dempsey Hill

Situated in one of the picturesque houses at the ever so romantic Dempsey Hill, Ben & Jerry’s takes ice cream parlour concept to another level.

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

Sprawled across a 1500+ sq feet area, this place gives an impression that you are sitting in an old-time roadside eatery in a village somewhere in Europe!

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

The rustic and wooden interiors…

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

Rare raw brick walls are really endearing.

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

The fireplace (non-functional) charming. Especially when you have a live band playing right in front of it.

Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

It’s not a tidy seating, yet the overall setting is just something that makes you want to hang out there, enjoying delectable desserts / coffee / food or alcohol.

Moving to why we usually go there… for the desserts! Ben & Jerry’s offers some really interesting and delicious ice cream based desserts, drinks and sundaes. I will list out some of my favourites.

I will list out some of my favourites.

Double Brownie Special - Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Double Brownie Special – Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

[1] Double Brownie Special: Freshly baked brownie (yes, the brownie is fresh, you can tell) with your choice of ice cream. My favourite ice cream combination includes chocolate chip cookie dough, New York Super Fudge Chunk (chocolate ice cream with dark fudge chunk, pecans, walnuts and fudge covered almonds) and Vanilla!

Double Belgian Waffle - Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey Hill

Double Belgian Waffle – Ben & Jerry’s @ Dempsey Hill

[2] Double Belgian Waffle: Freshly prepared Belgian Waffle with your choice of ice cream, with cream and chocolate sprinkles… Normal ice cream combination that works is any chocolate ice cream and vanilla.

[3] Some of my favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavours to try:

 

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey

Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey: The first time I heard about this ice cream, I rejected or almost rejected the idea of trying it… who has a banana ice cream! I ate my words along with a huge serving of the chunky monkey. If you like banana, you CANNOT miss this flavour! It’s ice cream carton is usually out of stock at quite a few places.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake

Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake

Strawberry Cheesecake: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream – Strawberries & a Thick Graham Cracker Swirl is actually another rare flavour I really really enjoy! A caveat, if you decide to take a scoop straight out of a box, beware, its really difficult to keep it down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk

Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk

New York Super Fudge Chunk: Chocolate Ice Cream with White & Dark Fudge Chunks, Pecans, Walnuts & Fudge Covered Almonds, a chocolate lovers gourmet delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much will it cost me: Well a scoop of ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s is around S$ 10-12. Add another S$10 for waffle/brownie… however, the serving size for Sundaes is quite large and meant for sharing!

Verdict: Oh I find it a perfect place to have a date. Apart from the gourmet desserts, the place also has a well-stocked bar and some select food choices as well. Although I have never really tried food here (Dempsey has quite a few other restaurants I enjoy) I like their limited spread. They have Nacho’s, select pasta, salad, pizza and soup. The setting is perfect for quiet time with your partner as well as a dessert night out for families! Caveat, week days evening is nice and quiet. Weekends, quite a few children around… take your pick!

Location: 8 Dempsey Rd, 247696. Ph: 6473 3231
Timing: 10:30am to 11:00pm

* This review is the writer’s personal opinion and is NOT a paid review.

Baja Fresh: For some Tex-Mex / Mexican Cuisine

One of the few cuisines that comes close to the chili Indian offerings is the Mexican spread… I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine… Right from the assemble your self Fajita’s to the tex-mex favourite crispy tacos and the chili-tomato special enchilada’s Mexican cuisine offers an interesting variety of choice. What’s more, it is one of the few cuisines that does not treat vegetarians like an unwanted step-child… and offers equally tasty options to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike…

Baja Fresh, Singapore

Baja Fresh, Singapore

One of my favourite mid-range Mexican restaurants in Singapore is Baja Fresh, Mexican Grill.

Baja Fresh

Baja Fresh

Located at Rendezvous Hotel opposite the Singapore Management University campus at Bras Basah, this lively Mexican eatery is a simple, no-nonsense joint where a family can go and enjoy a meal at a decently reasonable price considering their size of the portion.

Baja Fresh

Baja Fresh

There’s something for everyone here. Baja Fresh is a Mexican chain started in 1990 in the California, USA. Their usp in a country of Bell Tacos was fresh ingredients and a self-serve, unlimited salsa bar. A household name in the USA, Baja Fresh is present in Dubai and Singapore as well.

Here’s what we had during our last visit:

Nacho Chips & Salsa @ Baja Fresh, Singapore

Nacho Chips & Salsa @ Baja Fresh, Singapore

[1] Salsa Bar & Nachos: Almost all their meals come with a serving of crispy nachos chips which go extremely well with the choice of four salsa’s they offer, along with lemon and cilantro.

Salsa Bar @ Baja Fresh

Salsa Bar @ Baja Fresh

The four choice of salsa’s include (1) ‘Pico de Gallo’ the original tomato, onion salsa. (2) Salsa Hot… which is their spicy version of salsa, although it is not really as hot as I would personally like. (3) Salsa Baja, this used to be some sort of top Baja secret… the secret apparently lies in heavily roasted tomatoes mixed with coarsely chopped onions and jalapenos and lemon seasoning. (4) Last one is Salsa Molcajate supposedly made on traditional Mexican stone tool. This is chunkier version of the salsa with a rustic condiment’s look.

Lime Margarita @ Baja Fresh

Lime Margarita @ Baja Fresh

[2] Margarita’s: Fresh Margarita dispenser endows the counter… with two flavours lime and blue, their lime flavour is an out and out hit. It’s not as strong as one would expect, but all the same decently well made.It also has some beers on offer…

Chicken Fajita @ Baja Fresh

Chicken Fajita @ Baja Fresh

[3] Chicken Breast Fajita’s: The seasoned and grilled chicken breast is served with Mexican rice, guacamole (quite well made), sour cream and sauted onions. This is served with tortillas. At Baja Fresh, tortillas are served as corn or flour. Corn tortillas are the tortilla versions of tacos… personally, I like their flour tortillas. While there are quite a few positives of Baja Fresh, their rice is one of their problem points. It’s just not good. But the rest is quite well made and fresh, kind of compensating for the disappointing rice.

Veggie Tacos @ Baja Fresh

Veggie Tacos @ Baja Fresh

[4] Original Baja Tacos Vegetarian: I like their tacos… it’s crisp and well-made. The tacos are filled with Mexican beans, veggies and go very well with their unlimited salsa’s.

How much will it cost me: For some reason I have realized Mexican food around Singapore is slightly pricier than a lot of other cuisines. Having said that Baja Fresh is comparitively reasonable and a meal for two would cost around S$ 40 inclusive of a Margarita.

Verdict: It’s not the best Tex-Mex I have had… but it is good. Their ingredients are fresh, salsa’s are really good… and the portion size leaves nothing to complain about. It’s definitely worth a try in case you want to enjoy some Tex-Mex. I have seen some unflattering reviews about Baja Fresh on a few forums and I agree, as I initially mentioned, that they are not the best. Their rice servings are really dismal, but the quality of tacos, their meat and the veggie options too definitely pulls me back to visit the place often, not to mention the fact that it happens to be my veggie husband’s most sought after place. Spice and veggie options, what more can I ask for, he often quips.

Location: Rendezvous Hotel, 9 Bras Basah Rd, Singapore

Phone: +65-6337 7300

Bombay Cafe: Specially go there for their range of Indian vegetarian snack options!

Having choice often spoils you… and that I believe is true about Singapore to the T. Whenever I am in a mood to dine out (which I must say is quite often), what annoys me is the sheer choice… for with choice comes decision making!

Bombay Cafe Singapore

Bombay Cafe Singapore

A week or so ago, I was shopping at Little India, when a friend from Mumbai called… and from his voice I knew he was munching on something. As expected he revealed he was having ‘Samosa’ at our favourite joint and he decided to call me, apparently to make me drool. So my mission for the day became, mission ‘Samosa’ and what better place to go than ‘Bombay Cafe’ on Syed Alwi Road.

Of the various Indian restaurants available in Singapore, Bombay Cafe holds a special spot for two reasons. It has the name Bombay in it… and it serves two of my favourite Indian snacks… Samosa’s and Wada Pav! So that night we decided to go Indian and dined at Bombay Cafe.

Bombay Cafe Singapore

Bombay Cafe Singapore

The Bombay Cafe décor often brings a smile. The shocking pink décor is to say the least unique. It isn’t my personal taste… but it does take some real conviction to create this sort of décor. And you know what… it works!

Bombay Cafe Singapore

Bombay Cafe Singapore

What works even better are the huge blow up posters of Indian Movies that adorn the walls and the ceilings.

Bombay Cafe Singapore (21)

Bombay Cafe Singapore

Overall the décor really grows on you and beyond a point, you think it is perfect for whatever it represents… the vibrancy of Bombay city!

If their décor is impressive, so is their food. And my husband seems to think so even more, because it is a pure vegetarian restaurant! Here’s what we tried…

Aam Panna @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

Aam Panna @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

[1] Aam Panna (Chilled raw mango drink): Aam in Hindi has two meanings… One is Commoner and other is Mango… Don’t ask me how same word means two different things! Having said that, this Aam means mango… it’s a traditional chilled raw mango drink which is extremely appetizing and makes for a perfect start for a Indian meal…

Samosa @ Aam Panna @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

Samosa @ Aam Panna @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

[2] Samosa: Since I actually went there for the Samosa’s that’s the first thing we ordered and we weren’t disappointed. Spicy potato vegetable (Indian style) wrapped in a crispy coating and fried to perfection. Pretty decent stuff.

Khaman Dhokla @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

Khaman Dhokla @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

[3] Khaman Dhokla: Simply put, it is a spiced spongy cake… made from chickpeas and rice flour… and later spiced with coriander and mustard seeds. Of the three starters we ordered, the Dhokla was actually not good. Rather than being spongy and light it was heavy and soggy… literally as if it was soaked in water… I do not know if it was a one off thing or that’s the way they serve it, but after this experience, I will shy away from trying to find out.

Malai Kofta @ Bombay Cafe, Singapore

Malai Kofta @ Bombay Cafe, Singapore

[4] Malai Kofta: Being a sweet tooth, I often include at least one vegetable that has a hint of sweetness to it. That’s Malai Kofta… Indian vegetarian Kofta is a great alternative to meatballs… and these veggie koftas are served in cashew paste mixed with the gravy, giving it a sweetish hint! And the one at Bombay Cafe is really well-made, Kofta’s soft and nicely soaked in the gravy.

Achari Paneer @ Bombay Cafe, Singapore

Achari Paneer @ Bombay Cafe, Singapore

[5] Achari Paneer: Achari Paneer… it’s basically Paneer (Indian tofu) marinated in pickle spices and served with tomato flavoured curry. The dish was good, nicely spiced and paneer was really soft… overall it was a great dish!

Rotis @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

Rotis @ Bombay Cafe Singapore

[6] Roti Basket: We took an assortment of Indian breads… Kashmiri Naan, Plain Tandoor Roti and Paratha. The breads were fresh and hot… so no real complains there.

How much will it cost me: The restaurant is quite up market but it is not exorbitantly priced… Most vegetables are priced around S$ 10 and most starters are priced around S$ 6 to S$ 10. Their portions are pretty decent too.

Verdict: They have a huge spread of Indian snacks which attracts me the most. Punjabi Indian main courses are available at a lot of places… but I often find myself thinking of some traditional Indian snacks… like Chaat, Crispy Samosas and Wada Pavs, Pakoras and yes… Cutlets! If you wish to try out different types of Indian Vegetarian Starters, this is a great option… It also proves that vegetarians have a large choice in starters as well. Having said that, it does not mean that main course in Bombay Cafe is bad… it’s just as good. Overall there food quality is good, some of their specific items really good and I recommend it highly, especially for their veggie snack options!

Address: Bombay Cafe, 79 Syed Alwi Road, Opp Mustafa New Building Singapore 207658

Tel: +65 6396 6452

http://www.bombaycafe.com.sg

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay – Go there for the food… go there for the location!

I love Singapore… and I often ask myself why… I guess the simple reason is… the place continues to amaze me… And that’s probably a huge reason why I love to show it off too! I love playing a tourist guide in Singapore and last weekend I decided to take my parents to the beautiful and serene Keppel Bay Area.

View of the marina from Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

View of the marina from Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

After a leisurely walk around the beautiful marina, which looked like a scene straight out of a movie or a book… we ended out afternoon walk at an equally impressive and pretty Privé Café.

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Located at the relatively new 2 Keppel Bay Vista, the café overlooks the marina and the Sentosa Island far off. I have often thought to myself… that I should make some time spend an entire day sitting at the café staring into the ever changing colours of the marina during the day, late into the evening. Some day!

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Coming back to the Prive Café… spread across a large area, it has a comfortable seating indoors and outdoors.

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

In fact it is a perfect weather to settle down for a relaxed brunch outdoors.

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay

The sofa seating is really comfortable.

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Conveniently opposite the extensive bar.

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

It’s just the place you want to be…

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Prive Cafe @ Keppel Bay Vista

Relaxing on a weekend. The ramp leads straight to the marina.

As for the food… They have a decent spread… a well-spread breakfast menu (available from 9am to 5pm), mix of salads, burgers, some Mediterranean food, some Italian pizza’s and pasta… and a good choice of small bites and delectable desserts.

What’s more… they have an interesting choice of coffees, including alcoholic ones! Overall, it has something for everyone… Even if you aren’t that hungry!

Here’s what we tried…

Irish Whiskey Coffee @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

Irish Whiskey Coffee @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

[1] Irish Whiskey Coffee: Nicely blended coffee with a generous serving of John Jameson Whiskey topped with whipped cream made for a great early evening drink, especially with an overcast, windy weather.

Calypso Coffee @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

Calypso Coffee @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

[2] Calypso Coffee: Coffee blended with Kahlúa & Myer’s Dark Rum was smooth and flavourful enough. Both the coffees were served with what looked like housemade cookies.

Straight Cut Fries @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

Straight Cut Fries @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

[3] Straight Cut Fries: Simple (fresh) fries served with curry mango mayonnaise, homemade ketchup, spicy mango chutney, garlic mayonnaise & mustard mayonnaise. It irritates me to no end when I get served frozen packet fries… they are crispy and all but, I still prefer my fries to be made from freshly made potatoes and we got just that here.

Falafel & Roast Veggie Wrap @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

Falafel & Roast Veggie Wrap @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

[4] Falafel & Roast Veggie Wrap: Veggies have heart. For a change there’s Falafel made out of breaded soybean & English peas served with roasted seasonal vegetables, curry pesto, mangoes & yoghurt wrapped in a tortilla. The slightly raw mango gives it such a nice tangy taste. However, the hero of the evening was the exquisite looking beetroot tzatzik which was accompanied by mint, radish salad and hummus.

Caprese @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

Caprese @ Prive Cafe Keppel Bay Vista

[5] Caprese: No it isn’t a salad but a stone baked 10 inch pizza… using the ingredients of a caprese salad, they make a simple vegetarian pizza, tad bit better than simply serving Margherita pizza. Pizza was nice and tasty… and the veggies at the table enjoyed it.

How much does it cost me: Surprisingly, for such a premium location, the café is quite reasonable. They do not have extravagant pricing, and in fact their desserts and other dishes are nicely priced, allowing for a wider audience. The above meal cost us approximately, S$ 75++ (inclusive of the alcoholic coffees). It’s not cheap, but it’s not crazily expensive either.

Verdict: Go there! That’s it. Your reasoning can vary… the location, the food, doesn’t matter. I would go there for all the reasons, equally… the food, the ambience and the location!  It’s a serene hideout away from the crazy crowds, especially on weekends… And as you saw, Veggies can relax and enjoy the meal too! What’s more they allow for you to carry your own alcohol and charge reasonable corkage. Probably the only thing I can call as a negative is they charge a levy on birthday cakes you may carry from outside… but considering the fact that they have quite a dessert spread, I suppose that is understandable. Overall… double thumbs up… one for the café itself and one for the location!

Address: 2 Keppel Bay Vista, Singapore City 098382

Phone: +65-6776 0777 (very difficult to get a place without reservation on weekends.)

http://www.theprivegroup.com.sg/prive/reservations/prive-cafe.html

My pick of top Christmas Lunches / Brunches in Singapore – 2013

A Christmas spread photo I love!  Courtesy: farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8293980055_c6b8efff4f_z

A Christmas spread photo I love! Courtesy: farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8293980055_c6b8efff4f_z

As I walked past the beautifully lit Orchard road last week… I couldn’t help but get sucked into the holiday season. Walking past the shining Christmas ornaments, each mall competing for the best themed decorations, temporarily I forgot I was chasing a deadline… or that I had run out of groceries and actually had a couple of cans of soda in the fridge which summed up my dinner options…

And with the thought of food of course, came the idea for the next few posts… As I research how I spend the 12 days of Christmas… I will keep posting my research in form of my top picks for brunches, lunches, dinners, desserts etc…

Spicerover

 

Today I start with: My top picks for Christmas & pre-Christmas Brunches / Lunches. I have picked the restaurants based on my experience coupled with what I thought looked like great spreads. I was excited with the final list… hope you enjoy it too!

 

 

[1] The Dinning Room: It’s been sometime since I have been to The Dining Room at the Sheraton Towers, but it still remains one of my favourite places… This year, they have something called ‘Prelude to Christmas Lunch Buffet’. Enjoy the traditional Christmas delicacies such as Turkey with Cranberry Sauce, Spinach stuffed Chicken Galantine, Roast Goose with garlic and sage to name a few.
From: 3rd December 2013 to 21st December 2013 (Tuesday to Saturday)
Price: Adult S$ 58 & Child S$ 28
Address: Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road, Singapore
For reservations & enquiry: +65-6839 5621

[2] Paulaner – Brauhaus: Looking for a cozy lunch for two… the Bavarian Christmas Set Menu at Paulner is a perfect option.
Menu includes: Bavarian Soup Specialty, Cream Forest Mushrooms and Garden Herbs with small Becon Bread Dumplings, Roast Turkey Breast with fresh Garden Veggies, Cranberry Sauce and Thyme Baby Potatoes OR Traditional Munich Red Wine Venison Ragout, served with Cranberries and Homemade Potato Dumplings. For dessert they have, the puff Pastry Cherry Tart with Movenpick Vanilla Ice Cream
From: 9th December to 26th December
Price: S$ 48++ per person.
Tel: 6883 2572
Address: 9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-01 Millenia Walk Singapore

[3] Melt – The World Cafe
This by far is my most favourite place in Singapore. It’s a shame I have not been able to visit this place for over a year now… But hope to change that this Christmas… Their pre-christmas Brunch is probably the lagest spread I have seen in Singapore yet. Catering to almost every favourite cuisine you can think of… this is a total value for money buffet for the sheer spread. They have some exciting live stations which serve the traditional Christmassy gourmet options.
On: 24th December, 2013 (Christmas Eve Brunch Buffet)
Price: S$ 88++ per person
Tel: 6885 3500
Address: Mandarin Oriental, 5 Raffles Ave, Marina Square, Singapore

[4] Alkaff Mansion
Enjoy the Christmas Day in the hills… especially with the weather holding up these days… Those looking for some Christmas day intoxication over and above food, here’s a brunch with free flow of prosecco, red and white wines while enjoying an array of over 20 international dishes. Some of the delicacies include Oven Baked Turkey with Cranberry, Marinated Salmon, Classic Italian ‘Panettone’ with Chantilly Cream & Chocolate, assorted cheese etc. to name a few.
http://www.alkaff.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Christmas-Brunch-Menu2013.pdf
On: 25th December, 2013 only – 12pm onwards
Price: $128 (adult), $58 (child)
Address: Alkaff Mansion Ristorante, 10 Telok Blangah Green Singapore

[5] Wooloomooloo Steakhouse:
Another perfect meal for a family at the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse has a 4 course Set Menu Lunch available from Christmas Eve to the Boxing Day. The special’s include the traditional turkey, Australian Black Angus Sirloin. You can find their menu at: http://www.wooloo-mooloo.com/files/images/menu/b4254df9-WMSG-Xmas-lunch.pdf
From: 24th December to 26th Decemner
Price: S$ 68++
Tel: 6338 0261
Address: 2 Stamford Road, Level 3 Swissotel The Stamford Singapore

[6] Park Royal at Pickering:
The Lime at ParkRoyal has an entire line-up of festivities right from their Yuletide brunch on 22nd, 25th and 26th December to their Festive lunch buffets from 19th December to 1st Jan. where a line-up of festive highlights such as Char Siew Roasted Turkey and Honey Glazed Ham awaits. Eat, drink and be merry at our Yuletide Champagne Brunch featuring the traditional christmas offerings and some exciting seafood as well. http://www.parkroyalhotels.com/media/pdfs/singapore/pickering/parkroyal_on_pickering_festive_brochure_fa_%28for_web%29.pdf
Brunch on: 22nd, 25th, 26th December
Price: S$68 OR S$128 (inclusive of Champagne)
Time: 12pm to 3pm
Tel: 6809 8899
Address: 3 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore

Few others to consider:

Balzac Brasserie for some French Christmas delicacies at Rendezvous Gallery, Bras Basah Road.

The Halia at Botanic Garden… a serene brunch… Recommended for groups with children, or those who prefer Halal food.

– The Christmas brunch at The Terrace, Sentosacove… recommended for groups with children…

Au Chocolat at Marina Bay Sands – They have Christmas Set meal options, set in the backdrop of a fairytale Christmas.

The Carousel at Scott’s Plaza is my pick for a large group. They offer a choice of food items terms of size / weight, perfect for a large group…

Apologies to the VEGETARIANS… while you might find the odd potato sage and salads around, these Christmas treats are not for you. Let me see if I can dig out some GOOD vegetarian Christmas options!

This is not a sponsored post… the list is based entirely on my choices.

Reviewed: Aromas of India – Great option for Indian Cuisine!

Aromas of India Singapore

Aromas of India

The first time I was introduced to Aromas of India, was way back in 2011 when I visited the restaurant then situated on Thomson Road, Novena. I distinctly remember walking into a welcoming, aesthetically designed restaurant, with a friendly, smiling staff. Already impressed, I was quite pleasantly surprised with the quality of their food and their service as well. I have been ordering in food from Aromas or getting a take-away for quite some time now…  And I have yet to have an anything but “Wow” experience.

A few months back, Aromas of India shifted from Novena to 60 Race Course Road (near little India MRT)… The bottles of Sheesha adorning the bar area are gone, but apart from that, and few changes to the décor, little else has changed.

The Ambiance:

Aromas of India Singapore

Aromas of India

They still have the beautiful Indian touches to the décor. The paintings on the wall are arty and blend in perfectly with the warm orange colours of the wall.

Aromas of India

Aromas of India

The interesting Indian artifacts and handicrafts look tasteful, as if someone has given enough thought to the small touches of the décor.

Aromas of India

Aromas of India

Then be it the mantlepieces placed high up or the Surai placed at the bar counter. The orange colour theme makes the restaurant look welcoming and comfortable.

Aromas of India

Aromas of India

I like their décor. It looks like someone has put some thought behind it.

 

The Food:

They have an elaborate menu and the tandoor dishes and biryani are quite a hit. But this time around we decided to try out a few different types of dishes. But of course, we started with the papad…

Aromas of India Papad

Papad

Here’s what we ordered:

STARTERS:

Aromas of India Palak Pakora

Palak Pakora

[1] Palak Pakora (Spinach crispies) (S$ 5.90): Just like you would expect, the pakoras are chopped spinach dipped in besan or spicy gram flour batter and deep fried. So far so good… but what really amazed me was just how ‘crunchy’ the pakoras really were. “Look at just how many times you hear the crunch as you chew,” my husband pointed out… and it was true. This is one starter which is a must try, whether you are a vegetarian or not!

Aromas of India Gobi Munchurian

Gobi Munchurian

[2] Gobi (Cauliflower) Munchurian (S$ 5.90): This is one of my all-time favourite preparations. Takes me back to the small Chinese food stall outside my college. This Indian-chinese preparation comprises of deep fried florets of cauliflower cooked with soya sauce, vinegar and few other ingredients… the Gobi munchurian was really good, the florets of cauliflower still had a little crisp to it. The sauce was a good mixture of sweet, tangy and chilli. Although, I could have done with a little more chilli too. All the same, the overall dish was good!

[3] Murgh (Chicken) Tikka Badami (S$ 12.90): The boneless chicken mixed with cheesy cream cooked in a charcoal oven was really savory. The chicken was very well marinated and nicely flavoured. This is a heavy dish, considering the fact it has generous amounts of cheese and cream added… but if you are not counting calories… it’s a great dish to try. If you are more a spicy palate person, this dish may not be for you.

MAINS:

Aromas of India Stuffed Capsicum Masala

Stuffed Capsicum Masala

[1] Stuffed Capsicum Masala (S$ 8.90): This was quite a unique stuffed capsicum dish we tried. Usually, the ones I have made or tasted involve stuffed capsicum baked / grilled in an oven and then added to a gravy. This one looked like the entire capsicum was stuffed with a nice potato stuffing and cooked fully in the gravy… Either ways, the gravy was really tasteful and spicy… and capsicum beautifully cooked… Liked the preparation quite a bit. It was definitely different from the usual ones I have had so far.

Aromas of India Saag Chicken

Saag (Mustard leaves) Chicken

[2] Saag (mustard leaves) Chicken (S$ 10.90): Boneless chicken was cooked in really well done mustard leaves curry. For those who enjoy the taste of mustard leaves… it’s a great dish to try out… I have had it before at a Dhabba (roadside eatery) during my trip to New Delhi… The mustard curry was delicately made, taking care that it was not overcooked. Try it if you enjoy trying out different preparations…

Aromas of India - Biryani

Biryani

[3] Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani (S$ 9.90): The chicken was soft and really well marinated with the biryani masala… What’s more, the chicken was boneless… The chicken gravy used was also extremely savoury with distinct flavours of cardamom, mint and almond paste… The potion of the biryani was quite large too… The only thing I am not sure about is, whether the biryani was actually mixture of gravy chicken with rice or actually cooked over dum (slow cooking over low flame allowing the meat and the ingredients to cook in their own juices). Either ways, the biryani was nice and tasteful…

Aromas of India Peshawari Naan

Peshawari Naan

Aromas of India Pudina Paratha

Pudina (Mint) Paratha

[4] Breads (S$ 3.50 each): We tried the peshawari naan and pudina (mint) paratha. Both the parathas were good and complemented well with the dishes we had ordered.

DESSERTS:

Aromas of India Kulfi

Kulfi (Frozen India Dessert similar to ice cream, only richer)

[1] Kulfi (S$ 4.90): After stuffing or rather over-stuffing ourselves with what I do call too much good food, there really was no place for anything more than a hot cup of masala chai (tea)… just to keep us awake… but from the limited dessert menu, we couldn’t resist the kulfi (Kulfi is a frozen Indian dessert, made out of milk, similar to ice cream, but slightly richer) so we ended up ordering both. The kulfi was nice with fair bit of pistachios mixed with the frozen cream. Very apt way to end our elaborate Saturday lunch!

Aromas of India Tea (Chai)

Tea (Chai)

Amazed at how the restaurant has managed to surprise me and provide a satisfactory culinary experience, I decided to chat with the co-owner of the place, Sanjeev Thakur . During our brief chat I was quite amazed at the fact that he actually works full time and manages the restaurant post his full time professional commitment. “Yes it can get quite challenging and hectic… but this restaurant is a dream effort. In fact my father was in the Indian Navy… so I am a first time entrepreneur in the family.” Prodding further he said, “We do home deliveries too. And there have been times, especially during weekends, when we have had a lot of delivery orders. So many times I have delivered the orders myself. But it is a part and parcel of starting out on your own…” Whoever said entrepreneurship was easy. “We have been really lucky to have a good manager and chefs who have been as involved in making this restaurant a success as we have… it’s one thing to start out with great quality. But it takes a real strong team to maintain it.” Well cannot debate that.

How much will it cost me: From the very beginning, for a fine dining experience, I was extremely surprised how reasonable and affordable the place really is! The entire elaborate meal cost us around S$ 70 with figuratively a ton leftovers (I wasn’t complaining, I just got a take away for the next day!). The potions are sizable for the price…

The Verdict: With the number of Indian restaurant options available in Singapore, I often find myself going back to Aroma’s especially when I have guests over… they have some nice twists added to the otherwise common dishes. Plus they have a really tasteful ambience and what I observed was a good service staff (quite a rarity in Singapore I must say), adding value to the overall dining experience. If you are visiting the Durga Pooja Pandal at Race Course road this year, this place is a definite try…

Address: 60 Race Course Road, Singapore 218567

Tel: +65 62562448

Website: http://www.aoi.com.sg

Ice Cream Escapades – Part 3: Fresh Flash Frozen Ice Cream in a Minute using Liquid Nitrogen

When you think of Liquid Nitrogen or Nitrogen gas, you often think sterile environment of a laboratory where scientists clad in white coats, wearing masks are mixing chemicals using tripods, glass beakers and test tubes. You definitely do not imagine an ice cream café!

Nitro Cream Cafe

320 Below – Nitro Cream Cafe

Continuing with ice cream gems in Singapore, last week, when we were walking back after the weekend grocery shopping from Little India, I noticed a blue neon sign on a shop at Mackenzie Road, that read “320 Below – Nitro Cream Café”. Actually the thing that caught my attention was the face that nothing about that name written on bright blue board made much sense.

Intrigued we walked to the shop and realized that it was in fact an Ice Cream Café. The entire décor looked almost like a kids birthday party.

Nitro Cream Cafe

320 Below – Nitro Cream Cafe

One side of the shop is covered from floor to ceiling in coloured, painted paper glasses. On a closer look you realize that the glasses actually have handmade designs on it! Quite impressive! There is a small seating next to wall with multi-coloured stools around tables. So far so good.

Nitro Cream Cafe

Nitro Cream Cafe

The other side of the café has two large blackboards that display the various flavours of ice cream actually available. Their menu is divided into regular flavours such as banana, coffee, lychee, some off beat options (still covered under the regulars section) like lemon, apple cinnamon, salted caramel, sweet potato (really!), ginger honey to name a few. Then they have a few premium flavours like Thai Coconut, Dark Chocolate and alcoholic flavours including lychee martini, tiamaria coffee, Kahlua etc. Interestingly they had written “Blue Cheese” Right at the end of the board, which had my eyebrows figurative reaching my hairline in disbelief. Blue Cheese Ice Cream?? I was already intrigued.

“Where’s the ice cream?” I whispered to my husband… for there was nothing on display. Where usually the ice-cream should be, lay 4 kitchen aid-mixers in bright colours. My husband pointed at a board and smiled, “They will make your ice cream fresh. It’s a flash ice cream place… I have read about this.”

Ice cream made in a flash, before your eyes… what fun.

Here’s a video of the how the ice-cream is actually made.

[1] The flavour you order, the actual ingredient without preservative flavour is mixed with milk, cream and little bit of sugar syrup. The ingredients are put in the kitchen aid mixer bowl.

[2] While the ingredients mix in the mixer, Liquid Nitrogen is released (almost -320 degrees), which flash freezes the mixture in a flash and your ice cream is done!

So we finally ended up trying:

Thai Coconut

Thai Coconut

[1] Thai Coconut: it’s creamier, and not so sweet that you cannot taste the flavour of coconut… In fact the thin coconut pieces actually enhance the texture of the ice cream. I can safely say that it is one of the better coconut ice creams I have tasted so far.

Rum & Raisin

Rum & Raisin

[2] Rum and Raisin: The first question that came to my mind when I saw the rum and raisin ice cream was, that it is definitely whiter than most rum and raisins I have tried. The flavours were well-blended and subtle. They were not too strong and in your face, but the ice cream and rum gel well with the small pieces of raisin. A caveat, those used to strong rum flavour in the ice cream may find the ice cream tad bland.

Finally, there is something in it for pure vegetarians… for there’s no egg in the ice cream! Here are a few Nitro Facts.

Nitro Facts

Nitro Facts

So intrigued was I with the whole process and the taste of the ice creams we tried, that I started chatting with Keith Roger, the ice cream enthusiast who owns the place. “Each Ice cream is freshly made using liquid nitrogen who temperature is below -320 degrees Celsius. We add all the fresh ingredients together and use the Nritrogen gas to create ice cream.” What’s special about the ice cream, that other ice creams do not have? “Since each order is freshly made, we do not need to use any preservatives in the ice cream, we add very little sugar, and we do not use emulsifiers or artificial flavours either!” No artificial flavours, interesting.

Keith Rogers @ Nitro Cream Cafe

Keith Rogers @ Nitro Cream Cafe

Nitrogen, by itself sounds a little laboratory like… is it absolutely safe for consumption? “Nitrogen just disappears… it evaporates in the air. In face it is perfect mate for food, as it does not mix or react with food. And there is no residue left by the process. So it is absolutely safe!” He points me to the two posters…

They have some unique flavours here. Ginger honey, sweet potato… blue cheese! Do people actually try these??  “For those who understand like the flavour of blue cheese, it blends in beautifully with dark chocolate. And yes, we have quite a few adventurous customers who want to try it out.”

Finally, considering the fact that the ice creams are made from scratch, do you cater to customization? Can you mix and match as per the customer’s wishes. “We often do… although at times if the mix and match is just too out there, we do make suggestions about whether or not the flavours would blend. But you would surprised at how innovative they can get. For example, One of our regulars here loves blue cheese with rum and raisin!”

How much does it cost: A scoop of ice cream costs any where between S$ 4.80 to approximately 6+ dollars depending up whether you go for regular or special flavours.

Verdict: I always go to an ice cream parlour with the enthusiasm of a child. It’s like Disney land. But to be treated to something so fun is a different experience. They make your ice cream before your eyes, and you can actually enjoy the watching the whole process! What’s more, you can try and create your own special ice cream by mixing flavours right there. It’s enjoyable, beyond just the taste of ice cream. Furthermore they have some really great flavours, and the overall quality of the ice cream is good, flavours subtle and natural. Probably the only thing that intrigued me was the fact that they are open just 3 days a week – weekend. Querying about that, Ken replied “we were facing some staff issues. So we operate it from Friday to Sunday 2pm to mid-night. But we are working towards it, and hopefully should be back to the 7 day week!” It’s definitely worth a try, if not for the flash ice cream itself, then the fact that you can create your own mix and match flavour!

Address: #01-01, 33 Mackenzie Road, Near Rex Cinema, Little India Singapore 228686

Website: http://www.320below.com/

Timings: Friday to Sunday 2pm to 11pm

Brief History of the Coffee House Culture & Quick Look at What Makes a Coffee House Click!

It took me 20 posts to come to one of my favourite topics! Coffee!! This post has no review… But it is an attempt to shed some light on coffee culture across generations. And a quick analysis of what makes a coffee house click with me! The following synopsis is a work of internet and book research.

Kaldi - Graphic Depiction [1]

Kaldi – Graphic Depiction [1]

Legends believe that as early as the 10th century, coffee the drink was first discovered by Kaldi, the goatherd in Ethiopia when he realized that his goats, after eating a certain type of “berries” became so active, that they stayed up all night. Locals made a drink from the berries, and saw similar effects and thus, began the journey of coffee… The Arabs were the first ones to actually cultivate coffee for trade, and the first known coffee cultivation started from Yemen and then spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.

The coffee house culture!

Qahveh Khaneh - Depiction [2]

Qahveh Khaneh – Depiction [2]

The first recorded history of coffee houses is seen across 14th and 15th Century in near East, namely Istanbul… where they were called “Qahveh Khaneh” or “Kiva Han”. Coffee houses soon became a place where people socialized, engaged in active conversations, communicated news, rumours, information or even for passtimes like playing board games…

The popularity of the coffee houses grew so much, that they were even called “Schools of the wise”. So powerful was this interaction and exchange of information, that it is believed that in the mid-15th century, the coffee house was banned in Mecca, and Muslims were banned from drinking coffee. However, the coffee houses did reopen, and the spread after that in Middle and Near East was unbounded. The Arabs even tried to maintain monopoly for production of the “Arabic Wine” as it was referred to at times.

However, travelers and traders from Britain and Europe to the Near East brought back stories of the Qahveh Khaneh, and the black hot Arabic Wine, thus, coffee slowly but surely made its way into Europe. The Arabic name qahuwa was transformed into kaweh (meaning strength) and Kaweh became coffee…

Coffee house culture reached England in 1650s, with the first coffee house opening in Oxford. Legend has it that the site of the first coffee shop in Oxford today has a coffee shop called ‘The Grand Café’. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is also still in existence today.

Coffee House in England - Graphic Representation

Coffee House in England – Graphic Representation [3]

In the England of that time, Coffee houses became a place where businesses were carried out, London Gazatte (government announcements) were read out or the menfolk got together to discuss shortfalls of the rulers. By mid-1700s there were as many as 500 coffee houses, each catering to different strata of society, different types of trading communities etc.

Coffee reached Europe in the 16th century, however, the first coffee shop of Europe was opened in Venice around the early 17th Century.

Coffee houses culture, it is believed was brought to the United States in the 19th Century by the Italian American migrants, and they started coffee houses across major US cities, namely, Little Italy in New York City, North End in Boston and North Beach in San Francisco. As the youth culture of the 1960s evolved, non-Italians consciously copied these coffeehouses.

Coffee House and Arts & Politics:

Coffee House in England

Coffee House in England [4]

A William Hazlitt’s Essay beautifully notes and explains the phenomena of “Coffee House Politicians and Politics”. Although politics was not the only topic of debate and talk, politics made its way into the coffee house culture and stayed there for years to come! Formally dressed men, wearing hats and carrying the newspapers sat around and discussed and opined about latest happenings. So much was the power of Coffee Houses that, King Charles II saw coffee houses as a threat to his rule and in 1670s tried to suppress this culture. However, he failed and coffee houses since grew into vital political, economic, and social institutions . In fact Anglo-European coffee houses have been instrumental in the starting up of organizations such as the London Stock Exchange and Lloyd’s of London. They also became critical forums through which the beliefs such as freedom of speech emerged.

Coffee House - Calcutta

Coffee House – Calcutta [5]

We often see the seeds of these coffee houses sown in Asia too. Coffee Houses had gained tremendous importance during the freedom struggle in India. In fact, the historical Indian Coffee House at Albert Hall in Calcutta was often frequented by the likes of Subhash Chandra Bose and other freedom fighters to plan, discuss and try to find solutions and paths to political upheavals in British-India.

Bob Dylon Played Here [7]

Caffe Reggio in New York opened in 1927 – Bob Dylon Played Here [6]

Arts also played an important role in coffee house culture. Some of the coffee houses in Vienna, Austria like the Cafe Central and Hawelka, have been in operation for over a hundred years! In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, coffee shops around the city welcomed and housed revolutionaries, scientists, writers and some of the brightest minds like Sigmund Freud, Stefan Zweig, Peter Altenberg, Leon Trotsky, and even Mark Twain. Then, in the mid-19th century, a revolution took place in New York City’s Greenwich Village where coffeehouses became the stomping grounds for poets and revolutionaries and songwriters and musicians and artists like Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Tom Paxton, etc.

Coffee Houses Today:

Coffee House today

Coffee House today

While coffee houses or Café’s as they are referred to today are still prominent, their purpose has changed. With news and local gossip available at fingertips (internet, whatsapp, emails, facebook) the need for face-to-face exchange of ideas and information has disappeared. Discussions and debates are replaced with twitters, facebook likes and comments or social activism on the networking sites.

Today, coffee houses are places to read books, catch up with friends, a place to get out of rains, business meetings or even dates. There are even those who promote their “coffee” and “coffee beans” and “coffee making techniques”.

Further, coffee houses today are strictly divided into “Take your coffee and leave” and “Please stay and chat”. Starbucks and such other coffee chains depend largely on huge turnovers and take aways. Their coffee shops, in most parts of the world are decorated in the same way, minimal. But, thankfully, there are those that make you want to stay longer… and “just hang out”. They have spent time making the place comfortable, even homey, which encourages long chats. They have concentrated on giving you unique blends of coffees, that suit your palate.

I love spending time in coffee houses, and often go on hunts to search for those unique places I would like to sit and chat, read a book, if alone or generally sit and think while I enjoy the aromatic coffee! It is my dream to start a coffee house someday, a place where people meet, talk and interact. Having said that, over the next few days, intermittently, I will be reviewing coffee shops.

To that effect, I often ask myself the question, what will make a coffee shop click! Here’s what:

The location:

DSC_0388I am biased towards shops located street side to those located in the malls. A calm shop on a crowded street, a coffee house in a heritage building, a coffee house lake-side… The location matters to me.

The ambiance:

DSC_0339 - CopyDo they have a theme to the décor? Is the music too loud or too soft? Are the seats comfortable enough for a long stay? Does the place have a character? Or is it just bunch of things haphazardly put together? Is the place tacky or classy… if it is tacky is there a theme to the tackiness!

The coffee:

DSC_0348There are times when I go to a coffee house for the aroma and the coffee itself. At such times, I like the coffee and its flavour to be the hero. Having said that, a great ambiance and location with run of the mill coffee is unacceptable. In that sense coffee has to be in the least, good.

 

The history:

London Coffee House [3]

London Coffee House [7]

Being a sucker for historical relevance, a coffee house with a history… matters. And when a place has history, and maintains a basic quality… in terms of the coffee they actually serve, the ambiance and even the location can fade away. The biggest examples being the Coffee House at Albert Hall in Calcutta, where the servers still wear the uniform they did during the colonial times. Someday soon, I shall do a feature on the place…

Over the next few weeks, intermittently, I shall try and review some unique coffee shops around Singapore that I absolutely loved… for one or all of the above clicks!

Image credits:

[1] historyspaces.blogspot.sg

[2] http://twitter.com/jack/status/253696836567719936

[3] www.telegraph.co.uk

[4] itech.dickinson.edu

[5] http://satyaki23.wordpress.com/category/culture/

[6] http://www.quora.com/Peter-Baskerville

[7] espressocoffee.quora.com/The-worlds-most-historic-coffee-houses

%d bloggers like this: