Category Archives: Food

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.

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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

New Year’s Eve Dinner Options – Under S$ 100 per person

I was exploring and compiling a list of all the great restaurants to visit for New Years Eve Dinner… when a friend commented. “I challenge you to find 5 restaurants around here who will give me (1) Good Ambience and (2) Decent food choice… all under S$ 100 for a New Year’s Eve Dinner.” Well in true Barney Style I replied back with a, “Challenge accepted!” And here’s not 5 but a good 10 restaurants that I believe fit the bill.

Wish you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR guys!

Spice Cafe[1] Spice Cafe @ Concorde Hotel
Spice Cafe at Concorde has a New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner, which includes extensive menu comprising of sumptuous spread of fresh, succulent seafood and specialty meats including medallions of lobster with bed of wakame and cucumber. Indulge in a selection of main courses such as beef tenderloin wrapped with puff pastry and squid ink seafood paella, chicken and roasted pine nuts. With delectable desserts such as croquembouche and assorted French pastries, you will be spoilt for choices with our array of sweet endings to round off a perfect meal. Apart from this, every diner will enjoy a complimentary serving of half a lobster and a box of novelties and a glass of house pour, beer or soft drink.
Price: Adult $95.00++ / Child $45.00++
Address: Concorde Hotel Singapore, 100 Orchard Road, Singapore 238840
Reservations: +65-67398370 or +6567338855 ext. 8133 Email: spices.chs@concorde.net Website: singapore.concordehotelsresorts.com

Brizo[2] Brizo Restaurant @ Park Hotel, Clarke Quay
Enjoy the culinary pleasures at Brizo Restaurant and Bar, Park Hotel wit their Roasted Spanish Paprika Crispy Pork Belly stuffed with Apricot, Roasted Australian Lamb Rack with Herbs Crust, Braised Oxtail in Red Wine, Braised French Duck Leg with Dark Cherry, Spring Chicken in Mushroom Fricassee, Maine Lobsters, Flower Crabs, Live Oysters, Australian Yabbies, Chilean Scallops to name a few.
Price: Adult $80++ / Child $40++ Top up $38++ for free flow of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Wines & Beer
Address: Park Hotel, 1 Unity St, Singapore 237983
Reservations: +6565938899
http://www.parkhotelgroup.com/clarkequay/dining/brizo-restaurant-n-bar/

alligator pear

[3] Alligator Pear @ Fairmont Singapore
Start your New Year celebrations with a sunset meal by the pool, relishing a unique selection of cold cuts, fresh seafood and barbequed meats including Aged Grain-Fed Sirloin with Bearnaise Sauce and Grilled Lamb Cutlet with Mint Sauce. They have a view of the Marina Bay, albiet from afar… but good enough to see some bursts of the fireworks display over the Marina Bay.
Price: Adult S$ 95++ or Moët & Chandon Imperial: S$ 115 per bottle.
Address: Level 8, Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 178882
Reservations: +6564316156

[4] 21 on Rajah @ Ramada Singapore
Enjoy a gastronomic dinner, starting with fresh lobsters and crabs and moving on to gourmet delights such as Goose Liver Mousse
on Toast and Beef Medallion with Shallot. Round off the meal with unique desserts like Pumpkin Panna Cotta.
Price: Adult $78 per person or $108 per person with free flow of sparkling wine for dinner and a ticket
to our Hats & Sequins Countdown Pool Party. S$ 39 per child
Address: 1 Jalan Rajah Road, Singapore 329133
Reservations: +6568086868
http://www.dayshotelsingapore.com/sites/default/files/Festive%20Brochure.pdf

[5] Thanying @ Amara Hotel
Thanying is one of my favourite Thai restaurants in Singapore. Renowned for its authentic Royal Thai cuisine, this festive season, they have a set menu. Some of the noteworthy specialities include Turkey Salad mixed with Rose Apple, Orange, WaterChestnut and a hint of Chill, Thai Spicy Prawn Soup, Deep-fried Boneless Grouper Fillet, Green Curry with Chicken and Thai Cakes and fruits.
However, these festive set menus are available for a minimum of 4 person group and require at least 2 days of advance reservation.
Price: Adult S$75 / S$ 80 per person
Address: Thanying Restaurant, Level 2, Amara Hotel, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088539
Reservations: +6562224688

Swiss Cafe[6] Cafe Swiss @ Swissotel The Stamford
Enjoy Swiss hospitality at Café Swiss with their Feast on a diverse assortment of festive favourites that include cold appetisers including Foie Gras Terrine with Apricot Chutney and Chervil as well as the Apple Caramelised Pear Salad with Candied Walnut and Fig for starters, before shifting the spotlight to the seafood selection which features a mouthwatering display of freshly-shucked seasonal oysters, poached Green Lip mussels, tiger prawns and clams. Variety of specialties including Slow Cooked Crispy Pork Belly with Grilled Courgette and Caramelised Apples, as well as the Mignon of Beef with Bearnaise sauce on the side, coupled with Turkey and Honey Baked Ham carvings, will take the festivities up a notch. Not forgetting signature Swiss favourites including an enticing selection of Swiss cheese and traditional Swiss Raclette and a decadent Chocolate Fountain for a sweet end.
Price: S$75++ per person or S$85++ per person inclusive of free-flowing juices or $95++ per person inclusive of free-flowing Tiger Beer
Address: Swissotel The Stamford Singapore, Stamford Rd, Singapore 178882
Reservations: +6564316156

[7] Sky Lounge @ Peninsula Excelsior Hotel
Enjoy this open air meal with favourites like Seafood on Ice, Lobster Vol-Au-Vent, Foie Gras Terrine on Melba Toast, Norwegian Smoked Salmon Tartlets, Selection of Caviar with Blinis, Roast Wagyu Beef on carving with Black Pepper and Mushroom Sauce, Tagliatele with Goose Liver, Salmon Steak with Cream Dill Sauce, Osso Bucco, Five Spice Lamb Rack, Pollo Diavola, Panna Cotta, Tiramisu Cake, Raspberry Crumble, Red Velvet, Cheese Platter to name a few.

Price: Adult: $88.00++ / Child: $48.00++ Inclusive a glass of Moet et Chandon (for Adult) & Festive Mocktail (for Child)
Address:  5 Coleman St, Singapore 179805
Reservations: +6563372200
http://www.ytchotels.com/peninsulaexcelsior/dining-entertainment

Aquamarine[8] AquaMarine @ Marina Mandarin
Enjoy this popular buffet with AquaMarine’s catch of the year like Baked Whole Salmon Zuchinni “Scale”, Giant Squid with Apple and Fennel Salad, Seafood Fritatta and wholesome festive desserts. While this buffet doesn’t fall in the under S$ 100 category, I accepted this as an exception with S$ 108 not to far behind!
Price: Adult S$ 108++ / S$ 76++
Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore 039594
Reservations: +6568451111
http://www.meritushotels.com/en/hotelinformation/marina-mandarin-singapore/whats-happening

Traders

[9] Ah Hoi’s Kitchen @ Trader’s Hotel
Enjoy this unique concept of all you can have barbeque dinner. Available on offer, barbecued lobster, king prawns, stingray, pork & lamb chop as well as satay, Asian salads, chilli crab and mouth-watering desserts. They also have Roast beef carvings on New Year’s Eve. Buffet includes wine, sparkling wine, beer, soft drinks and juices.
Price: Adult S$ 98 / Child S$ 38
Address: 1A Cuscaden Road, Singapore 249716
Reservations: +6568314295

[10] Oasis @ Grand Hyatt
Enjoy the lush greenery in tranquil surroundings at the Grand Hyatt Singapore poolside restaurant Oasis and savor the BBQ dinner of meat and seafood selections a la minute on the open charcoal-fired grills.
Price: Adult S$ 69 / S$ 34
Address: 10 Scotts Road Singapore 228211
Reservations: +6567381234
http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hotels/sinrs/NY_brochure09.pdf

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.

Café Hopping: Next up… Selfish Gene!

Selfish Gene Cafe

Selfish Gene Cafe

The first reaction when a friend mention a coffee shop named “Selfish Gene” was laughter and amazement… laughter at the name itself, amazement at who would actually come up with a name like that… that too for a coffee place.

The first time I actually visited the place, of course was some time ago, when I was looking for a quiet café around the central business district, which had a wifi. Walking down from Neil Road towards Tanjong Pagar MRT, I literally stumbled on a small un-flatted tile right outside Selfish Gene. Intrigued at the understated exterior, I walked in hopeful that I will get some decent coffee and of course, wifi.

Ambiance:

Selfish Gene Cafe

Selfish Gene Cafe

The Selfish Gene is located in one of the heritage buildings at 40 Craig Rd (parallel to Duxton Road). The café is really simple, nothing jazzy or fancy… it immediately gives you a feeling of being somewhere nice, cozy and pleasant. The elongated floor space is surprisingly large and roomy, with a fair number of tables and chairs sprinkled around.

Selfish Gene Cafe

Selfish Gene Cafe

They do have a small open to sky ceiling… which makes the cafe bright and idyllic.

Selfish Gene Cafe

Selfish Gene Cafe

Right at the end of the lengthy room, is the self-service counter.

Selfish Gene Cafe

Selfish Gene Cafe

That’s where I spotted, written in bold letters, the meaning of the café name… This is what it said. Very interesting! So the selfishness is not about sharing food… Very interesting indeed. For those who are intrigued, the café is owned, Gene, is actually a Psychology Degree holder from NUS, who trained as a chef in Sydney, food being his true calling.

Food & Coffee:

As for the food, their menu is simple, short and straightforward. They have a selected range of All-day breakfast, Salads & Sandwiches, Soups and some Desserts. They also serve some basic hot and cold beverages. There’s nothing really impressive about the choice of food… nothing that you would find at atleast a dozen other places… yet Selfish Gene has a charm of its own.

Sometime back, I met a friend here for light lunch and this is what I tried:

Scrambled eggs & brioche @ Selfish Gene Cafe

Scrambled eggs & brioche @ Selfish Gene Cafe

[1] Scrambled eggs & brioche: Scrambled eggs were served with a nice thick toasted brioche accompanied by some fresh mesclun salad. The berry compote on the brioche was definitely not out of jar, but tasted freshly made.  I am a sucker for scrambled eggs… for I believe a well made scrambled egg is just pure bliss. And the simple café didn’t disappoint… the eggs were beautifully made. Perfect for brunch in fact

Carrot Cake @ Selfish Gene Cafe

Carrot Cake @ Selfish Gene Cafe

[2] Carrot Cake:  A nice big piece of carrot cake with smooth cream cheese icing was surprisingly good. Maybe not one of the best I have had, but still, good enough. The cake had a generous bit of crushed walnut and other nuts… making its texture chunky. I like any dessert that’s not overly sweet… and this one was just perfect as far as the sweetness was concerned. But recently, someone mentioned that Banana cake is much better… sigh! Next time.

Coffee:

Cafe Latte @ Selfish Gene Cafe

Cafe Latte @ Selfish Gene Cafe

[1] Café Latte: I loved their coffee. It was clear that it was freshly brewed… not acidic and quite smooth actually. It wasn’t strong (but then which latte is). I really liked the flavour of the bean itself… and for this one, I would definitely go back.

How much will it cost me: Their food is nicely priced between S$ 9 to S$ 16… per dish, depending upon what you take. Their coffees and drinks too range between S$ 5 to S$ 7… nothing out of the ordinary about their pricing… which is quite similar to loads of coffee places around.

Verdict: It’s a simple coffee place, with good quality food and good quality café. Their ambiance is not overly exorbitant and neither are their prices. I love the fact that that the place has a comfort feel about it. To top it all they have wifi… which makes it a perfect place to work if you have to. Probably the only complain is that it doesn’t have too many options for vegetarians in the all-day brunch section, except maybe mushrooms and the berry compote they serve with the salads… Having said that, the staff seems knowledgeable and would definitely help out! In conclusion, good place for brunch, lunch and snack or work or simply to catch up with friends. I would go there again the next time I am in the area for sure.

Address: 40 Craig Road  089678. Ph: 6423 1324

Website: http://www.selfishgenecafe.com/

Scaling the Online Food Order & Delivery Startup from 1 to 28 countries in a year… Interview with Co-Founder of Foodpanda – Kiren Tanna

Kiren Tanna, Co-Founder Foodpanda.com

Kiren Tanna, Co-Founder Foodpanda.com

Food is best enjoyed in a comfortable environment. But definitions and preferences of comfort differ. Some enjoy the beautiful ambiance of a restaurant or the vibrancy of the food courts, while others prefer the quiet of their homes or a quick meal by their workstations.

Today I touch upon a crucial aspect of the food scene not just in Singapore, but also across the globe… Food delivery. Did you know that on an average, over 100,000 food deliveries of different types happen across Singapore in a single day? Let’s hear more about the food delivery market of Singapore, the challenges and opportunities and some useful pointers that make restaurants click, from the man who knows this market the best, Kiren Tanna, the co-founder of www.Foodpanda.com, Rocket Internet’s online food delivery and order initiative. 

 

Sonal: Let’s start with the story that leads up to foodpanda.

Kiren Tanna: In early 2012, I joined Rocket Internet who was trying to set up Foodpanda in Asia. It has been a popular concept in the USA. So we wanted to bring this concept to food loving Asian region. We started off with 4 countries – Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. We then added 4 more countries in the next two months, including India, Taiwan, Vietnam and Pakistan. So covered 8 countries in Asia and we have stuck around with those 8 countries since in Asia, while expanding in other continents. Today we have 28 countries in foodpanda globally.

 

Sonal: How was the initial response to Foodpanda?

Kiren Tanna: We got a lot of traction. In our research we had realized that the market was already there and lot of people were ordering food. The standard for ordering was and to a great extent still is on the phone. It is this switch from phone to online channel that we enabled through our websites. Apart from boutique specialty restaurants, we were also able to partner with a lot of big names. The initial response was quite encouraging and in the last few months we have also added a lot of big names such as Pizza Hut, Dominos, Pasta Mania, KFC, you name it and we have added it to our site and the list will only become more and more extensive as we go ahead.

 

Foodpanda

Foodpanda

Sonal: How did you come up with the name Foodpanda?

Kiren Tanna: We wanted to associate food with something that is perceived as comfortable…  we discussed various food related options, until we came up with foodpanda. The name sounded catchy. When we tested it out we realized that it had a huge recall value and it was quite easy to remember as well. What’s more we had a readymade idea for the mascot in the name itself. We have a very cute panda as our mascot. We tested the younger and older looking panda, and the younger panda became a hit so we stuck with that. But, the name has caught on, not only in Asia, but also in other markets, and it helped us tremendously in our growth.

 

Sonal: The core proposition of Foodpanda was to offer a platform for online ordering across a choice of restaurants at one go. However, customized delivery system of individual restaurants was in existence. Did you ever think Singapore was too small a market?

Kiren Tanna: While I agree that Singapore is a small country with relatively tiny population, especially when you compare it to Indonesia or Malaysia. However, two main points make Singapore an interesting market to be in.

One, Singapore is an extremely important and vibrant e-commerce market. The population in general is very technology savvy and e-commerce friendly. In our research we realized that majority of them have tried shopping online, a lot of them own credit cards or online payment friendly cards.

In fact, you would be surprised to know that a total of approximately 100,000 food orders of different kinds are delivered everyday.

Second, people are willing to spend here. The average order on Foodpanda Singapore is around S$ 50.

 

Sonal: Considering there were some existing platforms for food ordering, did you consider the acquisition strategy rather than greenfield?

Kiren Tanna: So we considered both greenfield and acquisition strategy. We have largely gone by setting up our own operations because it ensures better control over the entire situation. Plus, in most countries including Singapore, the competition was actually quite small and while it could have given us a bit of a kick start, it did not justify the spending we would have had to do. Having said that, we definitely try to partner with other local players. For example, in Singapore we partnered with Singapore Dine. We saw a mutual fit in what we could do and what they could do and so we started to work together. Foodpanda in Russia and Brazil and couple of other places has acquired local competition. So yes, we do keep an eye out for such opportunities all the time.

 

Sonal: Did you have a segmentation of customers when you started out?

Kiren Tanna: One major chunk here turns out to be working professionals during lunch time.. Especially during bad weather days. A lot of our orders come from areas where food options are not available or easily accessible. Especially where local food courts shut down early.

Second category included working women who haven’t managed to put together dinner due to a delay at work. Homemakers who want a day off from cooking made up a large segment too. Especially for bulk order on weekends for say a party or when guests are visiting.

Lastly, our orders come from the single guys and girls…

 

Sonal: Considering Singapore is huge expat market, did you have segmentation on that basis?

Kiren Tanna: We never systematically made such a segmentation, but I am happy to say that we have a very balanced customer base between locals and expats, almost 50-50.

 

Sonal: How do you shortlist restaurants? Do you have a specific criteria that the restaurants need to meet to get listed on foodpanda?

Kiren Tanna: Yes. We do analyse a restaurant in terms of the quality of food and whether they have infrastructure and capacity to deliver food in the stipulated time. The food delivery part becomes especially critical during the weekends when their walk-in load would be more. In testing the quality of food, we definitely pay a lot of attention to customer reviews. We also do mystery shopping ourselves by ordering in food.

 

Sonal: Considering the fact that you are neither involved in quality of food nor the actual delivery, how do you deal with customer complains?

Kiren Tanna: We have an extensive and efficient customer service network in house in form of call centers. For specific complains, at times, we also connect the restaurant directly to the customer. If we realize it is a blatant fault, we have reimbursed the customers in the past. While its largely the restaurants delivering the food,, we do intervene to ensure customer satisfaction, as it is a joint effort at the end of the day and a poor experience effects both us and the restaurants.

 

Sonal: At this point in time, how many restaurants have been enlisted with foodpanda.

Kiren Tanna: We have more than 200 restaurants with us.. As I said earlier, we are very strict in monitoring delivery performance. So we have actually declined50 to 60 restaurants for poor infrastructure and in future we will continue to add the good ones and weed out the ones that do not deliver the required quality.


Sonal: Where does foodpanda Singapore go from here? You have been here for year and half now, and have captured a huge chunk of the market already. What next?

Kiren Tanna: In Singapore, yes, we have pretty much signed up all of the major restaurants we wanted to. We are chasing a couple of big names and hopefully over a period of time we will expand further. But for now, we have a decently comprehensive list here.

For other markets, different countries are in different stages of growth. But overall the major focus is to expand and reach more cities within those countries. We are doing extremely well in the bigger cities, but there are aim is to reach to the number 1 spot in food delivery.

In Asia we are now also looking at expanding to new countries.

 

Sonal: Let’s talk a little bit about you. What was your journey like till you came in as CEO, Asia for Foodpanda.

Kiren Tanna: I have been in Singapore for the past six years. My move from India to Singapore happened after I was recruited by McKinsey & Company, which is a global consulting firm. I come from Mumbai which is a food loving city. I like to eat and I like to explore new places. In fact, during my stint in McKinsey, I was fortunate to travel to all the continents across the world and was actively participating in the local food scene. Foodpanda as a concept is very cool. Plus, for me it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to venture out and become an entrepreneur myself, which such a renowned investor to back up and a concept that I truly believed in.

 

Sonal: In your stint at foodpanda and even before, you have been to hundreds of restaurants, small and large, across the globe… what according to you differentiates an average restaurant from a good restaurant, and what is it that makes them brilliant.

Kiren Tanna: Number one is of course quality of the food. But I wouldn’t stop at that. For me a good restaurant is the one that serves me good quality food. A brilliant restaurant for me is the one which can surprise me, not just with good quality food, but little bit of innovative and creativity as well. Does the dish excite my eyes as well as palate…

Further, I think restaurants today largely ignore marketing.. I still remember, about two years ago, I had been to this restaurant in India, and I received a simple Happy Birthday email from them with an invitation for dinner and an added discount coupon. Whenever I am in India, I make it a point to visit this place.

 

Sonal: Finally, any tips / suggestions for F&B entrepreneurs?

Kiren Tanna: It is a very interesting industry. No matter where you are, today there’s a market. Another important point is, there is loads to be done in this space. Online food delivery when we started out was a segregated market with no real formal platform. Similarly, there are many such grey areas yet unexplored and this industry is only going to get hotter. The best suggestion I can give right now is to hunt for the golden nuggets.

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

Real Food – The recipe for healthy meal

DSC_0595It is extremely heartening to see that there is a generous sprouting of organic vegetarian/vegan eateries coming up across the island. With the amount of junk and fast food joints available everywhere, once in a while it is really amazing to just visit a place that helps you cleanse your palate with great, light and healthy food.

I have been itching to go to Real Food for a while now. The last time I visited the one at Clarke Quay, it was really crowded and we didn’t find a place, which was quite a put off. So when a couple of days ago hubby dearest called, “You remember that really crowded vegetarian restaurant we were wanting to go?” he asked. “The one at Central Mall in Clarke Quay?” I asked. “Yes… that’s the one. Well it seems they have opened up at Sommerset… and it is not in the mall… but on a quieter street. Want to go there for dinner tonight?” I of course didn’t need another invitation.

Real Food @ Killiney Road

Real Food @ Killiney Road

This just makes my all vegetarian week even more special! So we reached, Real Food outlet is situated on 110 Killiney Road next to the huge Singtel Shop at Somerset and it has a Real Big restaurant space.

Before I move on to food… I am going to spend some time on just describing this place. It’s a huge restaurant divided into 4 distinct parts.

Grocer Shop

Grocer Shop

As soon as you enter on your right you see a large grocery shop, that stacks organic ingredients and food. You can find a lot of organic variety here. Move in a little and you see the entire central portion is divided into two seating areas. One area is meant to have a meal, and the place has arrangement to accommodate large groups. The décor is predominantly wood, with large wooden tables and benches spread across. It is extremely astetically done, and the place has an immediate welcome feel to it. The “at home” feeling is accentuated by the friendly, extremely polite and smiling servers.

Real Food @ Killiney Road

Real Food @ Killiney Road

The other part has comfortable sofas, meant to provide you with a comfort seating where you can eat and enjoy reading a book.

DSC_0592

Real Food @ Killiney Road

Which brings me to the most important part of the décor. Real Food has huge wooden bookshelves, stacked with hundreds of interesting choice of books.

DSC_0591

Real Food @ Killiney Road

You can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing through this library or you can just kick back with your own book while enjoying coffee and some nibbles. People often ask me what is it that matters to me more, the décor and ambiance or the quality of food. It is an interesting question. I love places that have some character to it. It need not be expensively decorated. It just needs to appeal to the eye as much as it appeals the stomach. Then it can be something as simple as drawing on the wall, or a sturdy wooden table that looks unpolished. It can be the shape of the dishes or just sparkling cutlery. Something has to appeal… And good food has outdone my farthest expectations about how a eatery should be. It comes real close to how I envisioned a coffee shop I would like to start some day!

The Cutlery Keeper

The Cutlery Keeper

Having said that, coming back to food… Real Food has an impressive selection of vegetarian cuisine! The menu, printed on recycled paper, has a great variety, from their all day breakfast, to the choice of salads, to pasta’s and pizza’s and even Asian rice and noodle cuisine and dumplings the place is quite a heaven for healthy vegetarian diet.

This is what we picked:

Organic Potato Wedges

Organic Potato Wedges

[1] Organic Potato Wedges: I have had organic potato dish just once before, and that was quite a few years ago. Aesthetically, the dish looked luscious. The potatoes has an brilliant, shiny glaze to it, which was not from oil. What’s most heartening to know was that the potatoes have its skin on. I remember the times when mom used to leave the skin on for the potatoes. “It is the most nutritious part of the potato…” she would explain.  The potatoes were minimally seasoned, allowing me to actually taste the potato itself. Organic potatoes are slightly sweeter and more juicier than normal potatoes. The extra sweetness, combined with the well-cooked juiciness and the minimalistic seasoning made it a perfect finger food to start with. A caveat… those used to the McDonald’s type of wedges or fries, will find this bland. Another noteworthy point is, while the serving size looks small, the serving is good enough for two persons.

Dumpling Soup

[2] Dumpling soup: I have seen the look on my husband’s face whenever I have the dumpling soup, especially at food malls. “How difficult is it to make those dumplings vegetarian!” he would crib. Well, he had a feast with the vegetarian dumpling soup. The dumplings were nicely stuffed with veggies, and the vegetarian broth was amazingly flavoured. It was just the right amount of salt, that allowed you to actually taste the flavours of veggies used in the broth. It is one of the best dumpling soups I have had…

Grilled Vegetarian Sandwich

Grilled Vegetarian Sandwich

[3] Grilled Vegetarian Sandwich: The bread was amazingly good… perfectly toasted. The veggies included zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and had a freshly made tomato puree sauce and cheese. Lightly seasoned, it was served with rocket and lettuce salad sprinkled with sunflower seeds. It was served hot and was quite a serving size too.

Organic Fried Noodles

Organic Fried Noodles

[4] Organic Fried Noodles: The organic brown rice Udon were beautifully stir-fried with veggies, namely capsicum, mushrooms and carrots. The noodles were nicely seasoned with various sauces. The serving size was good, and the taste heavenly. One of the must try dishes…

How much will it cost: A meal for two cost us around S$ 32, without the drinks. I was good value for money, and you could taste the freshness and see the quality of food was top notch.

Before I conclude, a few noteworthy things about Real Food:

1– Real food café is free of processed ingredients, trans-fat, artificial preservatives and meat.

– They source organic food of good quality ‘ethically’ which probably means directly from raw-food producers. One of the reasons why they claim their food costs a little more than others. Frankly, I felt it was quite reasonable, especially for the quality of food, the ambiance of restaurant and size of the portions.

1167428_623966807644232_1446473755_o– They often conduct workshops, talks related to good food cooking or organic food related matters. – For more information, visit their facebook page for updates

– They currently have four outlets in Singapore. (http://www.realfoodgrocer.com/outlets.html)

– A lot of people might find their food inadequately seasoned. From what I ate I realized that they stress more on the actual taste and flavour of the ingredients they use, which might often get lost in over-seasoning. Simply put, if you prefer chilli, spicy food, this place may not be to your taste.

Grocer Shop

Grocer Shop

The Verdict: I love the ambiance, the food and the overall package. They have paid attention to things like how the cutlery is kept on the table, to the colour of the décor and the sofas, even the cushions there! Further, they understand food and what it compliments well with. They understand vegan food, which makes it a great joint for people who prefer their food to be free of garlic and onions. You can request for such dishes. I would recommend this place to anyone who prefers to eat healthy, yet tasty food, as this place offers a lot of variety, in terms of the sheer selection, not just of different dishes, but cuisines as well. It all just adds up! A definite thumbs up! A great find for my vegetarian palate!

Rating: ****

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