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Pasta de Waraku

The Central at Clarke Quay has become a rather convenient place for my friends and I to meet up, given that the Northeast line stops right there and all of us don't have the luxury of having a car to drive around. There are also many restaurants in that mall, most of them Japanese-themed. Despite the many different retaurants, I seem to find myself most frequently at Waraku. Waraku and I, we go back a long time but that's another post altogether. Anyway, I noted a loooong time ago that Waraku has a new sister restaurant that focuses on Japanese-Italian pastas and pizzas, simply called Pasta de Waraku and there is an outlet at The Central as well. The concept & menu sounds and looks rather interesting, and as with Waraku, I love the plastic food display as it never fails to amuse me.

One Friday evening, with our stressful week finally behind us, Nibbles & Scribbles and I went to Pasta de Waraku for the first time, after deciding on Italian noodles as the nosh of c…

Mondo Mio

It was coincidental that I had lunch at this Italian restaurant this weekend but I needed to pass some time and the $12 nett set lunch sounded too good of a deal to pass on so I stepped in. The Italian restaurant manager seated me quickly in a cosy corner where I could pretend to look important and browse my magazine.

I found out later that Mondo Mio meant "My World" and this restaurant originated from Japan. That explains why there is some Japanese interpretations on the menu, like "mentaiko pasta". The focus was on South Italian cuisine, using only olive oil and not butter as the cooking fat of choice. That also explained why the olive oil served with the bread was pretty good and tasted fresh and rather fruity.

First course was a bowl of tomato cream soup that unfortunately tasted nothing of the fruit but a saltish and watered down cream. I had a few spoonfuls and then gave up. My main course was slightly better. I ordered the mushroom pizza over 2 other p…

Inagiku

Inagiku - Jo Chirashi, originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. This chirashi came highly recommended by Wey-lin and truely the foodie friend, she made sure I could try it for myself by setting up a dinner date. It turned out to be a really delicious midweek respite!

The "jo chirashi" ($60) was presented beautifully, in a large black bowl with a slanted rim. What you cannot see forming the foundation of this rice bowl was good quality sushi rice, topped off with a scattering of pinkish minced gari (pickled ginger), nori and sesame seeds. The raw seafood resting on top the rice was plenty. Since every single one was rather fresh, plump and sweet, it would be difficult to pin down a favourite. But the more memorable ones were the aburi hirame (flounder fin), kanpachi (yellowfin belly) and salmon belly. Inagiku's version of tamago did not have that cottony type of texture that I find disgusting, but it tasted just the way I like it - slightly sweet with a hint of savoury.

Sitt…

Honey Walnut Bread

It's true. All it took was that box of instant dry yeast that suddenly appeared on the counter to prompt me to bake bread. The erratic weather that see-saw'd between a clear sky and a pouring rain was keeping me indoors anyway and I had time to kill.

I decided on a walnut bread recipe taken from King Arthur Flour's website. I learnt about this established flour company when I was studying in the US. The ingredients were minimal and I love the sound of walnuts and honey!

As I was taking the steps through, I was telling myself not to have high expectations of the end result. It is not that I have no confidence in the recipe (otherwise I wouldn't have used it in the first place) but rather, my experiences with bread have always taken a "hit-and-miss" route.

But my confidence did pick up a little when the first round of proofing took only about an hour before the dough doubled in size. I punched it down with great excitement and kneaded in the nut mixture. Because I…

Pagi Sore Indonesian

I would never have set foot into Pagi Sore if not for Umami's craving for Indonesian food when she was back from Paris. So thanks to her request, I rounded up a few foodies for lunch and finally ate at one of the most well-known Indonesian restaurants in Singapore. The place was packed with a line waiting to get in. Reservations are definitely a must and I was glad I got special advanced warning.


The experts / regulars of Pagi Sore took charge and ordered multiple orders of their specials. From top to bottom, left to right, the group of us ate: ayam bali (marinated grilled chicken), omelette, sambal kangkong, udang pedas (sambal prawns with petai), ikan otah kukus (steamed fish with otah seasoning), cumi bali (grilled squid with sweet sauce) and tauhu telor (fried tofu with egg). The few who had to satisfy a sweet tooth ordered the ice chendol.


My favourite dish was the sambal kangkong. I loved that the greens were very fresh and remained slightly crunchy at the stems, and the samb…

Santaro Japanese Restaurant

I was curious to check this place out after coming across an article that mentioned our MM and his favourite Japanese restuarant. Chef-owner Santaro Li sure is enjoying the publicity with good business as the restaurant was totally packed on a weekday lunch. It seemed that both tourists as well as well-heeled and suited businessmen made up the main cliental. Many of the latter group also seemed to be regulars but I would not be surprised as the place exudes a certain level of warmness and comfort.

The sushi bento ($28) seemed like a good deal. On top of sushi, one would get an appetizer, chawanmushi, bowl of udon and tempura. It was already too much food so I was amazed to be served 3 different appetizers.

They were nothing to shout about but the thing on the top right corner was rather interesting. It tasted like fish floss, but less fluffy and was a little sweetish and chewy.

The following picture shows the main course. I had requested for cold udon instead and kinda dug int…

A Surprise

Not the most outgoing and social person, I have only few but close friends, all of whom I love dearly. Despite this fast-shooting mouth that I have that could easily offend anybody unfamiliar with me, these are people who forgive and forget. It is also quite unbelievable how I got to know some of these people, not that it matters, really.
So last month was my birthday month and of course, I got quite a fair number of yummy birthday treats from the friends. The one I was caught off guard was planned by a couple of my foodie friends, Jooone & Superfinefeline. I had thought it was just a casual lunch get-together to fill up on delicious sushi from Tatsuya.


The sushi bento (S$26.80) was filling all right. Generous slabs of fish over seasoned Japanese rice made the most delicious and perfect lunch for me. I was a happy camper and totally satisfied with just that, but being a bento, I had to deal with the accompanying chawanmushi and mixed tempura. The steamed egg was pretty tasty, reme…

It's exciting at Tomo

Just as I thought I had seen and ate everything from Chef Thomas, he surprised me yet again at a recent dinner where I brought the parents alongside for a treat. With their preference in mind, I told Chef to go easy on the raw stuff and just to serve us more cooked food. But Thomas really knows my heart. He went ahead and set up a sushi plate just for me and as a result, I got to enjoy best of both worlds that night. Thank you, Chef!
We started off with the usual suspects, just to get going - yasai sticks with miso, wakame salad, leatherhead fish jerky and baby sardine crisps, etc. The first new dish that appeared was a salad. It seemed like no biggie, really, composed of Japanese spinach, bitter rocket and cherry tomatos for color variety. No biggie, except that the greens became just vehicles to slurp up the delicious, sweet, sesame-soy dressing that balanced the bitterness most wonderfully. To pimp up the salad further, generous sprinkles of fried sakura ebi and bacon (and min…

Nakasei Sushi Restaurant

Checking out sushi restaurants seems to be one of my favourite past-times! I stumbled upon Nakasei sometime ago, and decided to give it a try. The strong and alluring smell of vinegared sushi rice was just too difficult to resist!

I ordered the sushi set lunch ($40+++), just so I am able to make a fairer comparison between Nakasei and the many other sushi restaurants I have eaten in before. That made it the most expensive sushi set lunch set I ever had!
With the premium tag, I would have expected more sushi, or correspondingly, more premium neta (sushi toppings). Perhaps it is a sign of frequent indulgence, but I was actually not too far off! In fact, I got both the Qs - quality and quantity.
In the 10 pieces of mixed nigiri and gunkan sushi, I got to savour uni, ikura, otoro and chutoro. Everything tasted fresh, although some might have appeared a little dubious. The sushi rice's flavour was well-balanced and did not overwhelm the neta's own taste. Each piece was also made in a …

Killiney Kopitiam (Purvis St)

I am quite a picky eater and I'd rather have some bread and yogurt for lunch, than go risk eating bad food at some random food court. Taking the risk of sounding too 'atas', if not the bad food, I get turned off by the constant battle for seats at lunch hour, irked by the sight of packets of tissue representing the act of making a reservation, and just when I think I am safely back at the table with my food, I get mental piercings by glares from hungry (and angry) people, rather vultures-like, waiting around, willing people at the tables to finish their food a.s.a.p so they can swoop down as soon as we stand up to go. After stepping out of the war-zone, I often end up smelling like a garbage bin, where all the different food scraps get dumped into one single location. Sigh, but I endure because a food court does have its purposes. It's economical and convenient. But when lunch time rolls around and the colleagues suggest somewhere else other than a food court, my hea…

Brandied Prune Chocolate Cake

Whenever I feel broke, I satisfy the shopaholic in me by going food shopping. I figured that if food is a necessity, then I need to go (food) shopping.

Strolling down the aisles of the supermarket is in itself a therapeutic act. I rather enjoy looking out for unusual items, to which I would pick up for a closer look, wondering if I will ever encounter them again someday. But I usually wistfully put them back on the shelves. Other times, I get reminded of certain foods or recipes and consequently, the inspiration to cook or bake.

My most recent adventure saw me buying a pack of Waitrose's brandied prunes because I remembered vaguely seeing a recipe calling for it in one of my recipe books. True enough, the Brandied Prune Chocolate Cake was found in the UK BBK edition of Cakes, Muffins and Cookies.

Alas, as I was preparing to make this recipe, I realised the prunes were kept whole, with seeds. Luckily I was not in a rush and I slowly de-seeded each candied prune. Eventually, I delive…

Au Petit Salut

The new Au PetitSalut at Tanglin area is a really popular choice for a Saturday lunch. I think it could be the lure of a $25 set lunch in a serene and all-natural surrounding (I was!). All the indoor seats were all taken up even with a 2-week advanced notice but I personally enjoy al-fresco dining so it was not a problem for me. Multiple ceiling fans kept the air cool but I could do without the ants crawling on the table linen nor the dust and dead leaves that unfortunately existed all around.

The main food-related complain I have about Au PetitSalut is its boring menu. As a regular customer since almost three years ago, I have not seen any drastic changes at all in the menu and I was hoping for one with its physical shift, but no luck.

Anyway, off the set lunch menu, I started with the ocean trout tartare. The salmon-like fish was fresh and well marinated in olive oil and basil. Its sweetness paired well with the bitter greens from the side salad that was tossed with a basil dr…

Tenshin is Tempura

This restaurant located in Regent Hotel is the only one I know of that specialises in the art of deep frying, or tempura. Yes, I actually had a full meal composed from bits of deliciously sinful fried things. It brought back memories of a similar tempura meal I had on a business trip to Japan a couple years ago. We were invited to the exclusive Sumitomo Club at Roppongi Hills, led to a private dining room that specialised in tempura, sat by the counter where a private tempura chef served up the tempura kaiseiki meal over 3 hours, course by course, piece by piece and our host was a wine lover and did not fail to order complementary wines to accompany the food. We rounded off our meal by taking a walk around the club house, taking in the amazing night view of Tokyo city. It was definitely a lifetime memory.

While the meal at Tenshin might not be comparable in all ways, it was still a good meal with good company. I started off seemingly healthy with a hibiki appetizer. Then, the salad wa…

A day late

Halloween Cupcakes, originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. But I hope your Halloween Day was a good one. I baked a couple batches of chocolate cupcakes in gold foils, and topped them with pretty autumn-colored thousands and thousands.

The colleagues sure enjoyed the unexpected treat.

Le Bistrot

Umami was the one who first brought Le Bistrot to my attention. But before I had a chance to try it while it was still at Katong, the restaurant moved to a more central location, at Stadium Walk.

The restaurant popped to mind when a girlfriend and I wanted to get-together to celebrate our birthdays while yet also trying to maintain a budget. Because I remembered Umami's comment on the "solid unpretentious food at affordable prices", I proposed to the girlfriend that we give Le Bistrot a shot.

Indeed, we were not disappointed. We felt right at home once we stepped into the restaurant. It was classy with a casual touch. Tables were sufficiently spaced without me having to listen to someone's life story and the whole time we were there on a Friday night, the floor was packed. Amazingly the wait staff remained efficient, attentive and friendly. The food was excellent and if I had anything to complain, it was the huge portions - I struggled to finish my food.

We s…

Han's Cafe (Far East Plaza)

Han's Cafe - Beef Hor fun
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. Han's Cafe used to be one of my favourite haunts many years ago, during secondary school days, when a more luxurious lunch was rendered. Those were the good old days when eating at a "western" restaurant was still considered as a treat. I relished the concept of multiple courses. First you start off with a soup of the day, usually cream of something and buttered toast, usually 2 triangular pieces of white Gardenia slathered with garlic butter. Then your main course would arrive shortly after. My favourites used to be their black pepper steak or chicken chop, that was when I still ate meat. Dessert used to be a peach tart or slice of pandan layered cake. I loved them both.

I seemed to have forgotten about this old favourite of mine until last night, when I somehow landed in Far East Plaza, to meet up with the mother. Whenever she wants food there, she almost always goes to the Han's Cafe and orders t…

Kids can cook better

Kids can cook
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. It has been bugging me for a while but I guess I just refuse to admit it. The last straw came today though and I am just going to state it: Garibaldi is no longer on my radar screen. The standards have just dropped gradually but quickly. Help!

The pasta used to be a fail-proof option. Always al dente and always a delicious sauce. But the penne with salmon, saffron and white wine sauce was a joke. Seriously. I think any kid can cook a better pasta.

I had a couple of disappointments before this but just wanted to give it another chance. So after a decent starter of zucchini roll-ups filled with goat's cheese, I felt positive about the pasta main course. Wow, a somewhat aesthetically-challenged platter of pasta came before me. Unappetizing penne painted in an orangey-hue, dotted with cubes of salmon so small they seem to be fighting a losing battle trying to make their existence known. Well, being kind, I gave my sense of sight the …

Apple Cake

Apple Cake
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. Yesterday was a work-filled day albeit offsite at Downtown East. That place has undergone a major makeover and I could not recognise it for a moment. But as work will be work, I brought an apple cake for refreshment. The colleagues and family liked the cake as it was not too sweet, very moist and the bits of chopped apples inside still remained slightly crunchy.Honestly, I was in a "make-up-as-I-go-along" mode so I was pleased that it garnered quite a bit of compliments. I made it again the next day, just to make sure the recipe is a keeper and it turned out great once again.So here it is, share to all so you can also enjoy moments of head-swelling. Apple Cake
(makes 2 cakes - one 10" and one 9" cake)

4 granny smith apples, peeled, halved and cored
(dice 1 apple into cubes, slice remaining 3 apples on the side, to get crescents)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 ts…

Paris - THE City for (Carb) Lovers

I lost count of the number of boulangeries and patisseries in Paris. But I can assure you, each one I past, each time my jaw dropped with awe over the colorful and beautiful creations before me, the eyes wide open, pleased to be overloaded by all the eye-candy, yet the heart wrenched and ached, knowing that the stomach would probably explode if I were to consume just one more thing.

Luckily there were also a few odd chances when I was able to stand up to the challenge and you would imagine I took full advantage of those moments.

Maybe there is just no such thing as a bad French bread or cakes or pastry because what I managed to sink my teeth into, I found them all to be at least decent. (Okay, except this one fruit tart that was just ok and not really worth the effort.)

Or, maybe I am just easy to please that way? In any case, I thought I will share my thoughts on the few things I tried so you can check them out in Paris too (the commentary starts from top to bottom, left to right).1) Ge…

Paris - La Table de Joel Robuchon

La Table de Joel Robuchon - Summary
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. I was not lucky enough to get a reservation at L'Astrance or Le Meurice but the itch for another Michelin-starred lunch soon led me to La Table de Joel Robuchon. This was a 1* restaurant by the legendary French chef and is recommended to be one of the best steals for lunch around Paris. Look, it was 55 euros for the set lunch that offered you an appetizer, a main, cheese course, dessert, coffee or tea with mignardises and half a bottle of wine!

Bread was served after the orders were taken. Sadly, the pain au levain was cold. Luckily they served bread with butter which made the bread instantly better. I learnt later, from Umami, that it was not common for restaurants to serve butter with bread all the time.

Our lunch started with the amuse-bouche. A shot glass filled with layers of chestnut puree, foie gras puree and parmesan foam. My dining companion sure took delight in my share.

Moving onto the first course…

A friend in Tomo

A fresh unagi, just slaughtered
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. As much as I love the food in Paris, my heart fluttered and did a little twist whenever I came across a Japanese restaurant. I could not help thinking about Kaisan and the yummy sushi I had indulged in so many times. I vowed to hit Chef Thomas' new place as soon as I touched down in Singapore - arriving at 4pm meant I would be just in time for dinner! But of course that did not happen. Between jet-lag and playing catch-up with work, I did make it a few days later.

Chef Thomas' new restaurant, "Tomo Fine Dining", is located just above "Qiji", 2nd floor of Marina Square. It is about 3 times bigger than his old venue, with private rooms for functions and occasions, a much larger kitchen for more cooked food and sumiyaki. The color of choice is black, not something I would have chosen but I suppose black is sleek and chic? (But I must admit, his former location seems to exude more personalit…

Paris - Taillevent

Taillevent
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. Hello, I am back from Paris! As always, God is good, blessing me with relatively good weather, no unfortunate incidents, a great travel companion, a gracious host (Umami and her family), and of course, quite a bit of delicious food.

As you would have expected, riding up to the trip, I was online researching extensively on the things to eat in Paris. Armed with my self-made guide, DimSumDolly ("DSD") and I, we trekked all over the city of love, in the name of gluttony. Our "no-agenda" agenda gave us the luxury of taking our own sweet time exploring the different streets of Paris, absorbing as much of the city as possible. But believe it or not, we never got to meet up with Mona.

On our 2nd day in Paris, we splurged on a lunch at Taillevent, a 2-star Michelin restaurant (recently demoted from 3). It was a truly wonderful experience. Our 3 hours past rather quickly, with us taking our time, chatting about men, drooling …

Matsuo Sushi

Matsuo - Chirashi
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. It was by mere chance I came across this small restaurant at Goldhill Plaza about 2 years ago, when dinner time came around and we were looking for food. The restaurant is rather discrete and the only giveaway is a Japanese lantern hanging at the door. We slided the door in hope of dinner but was curtly informed the restaurant was fully booked for the night.

I have not had the chance to go back until about a couple months ago. The restaurant has a make-over since my first encounter. It is more modern but still retains its small cosy feel. I found out there is a set-lunch-of-the-day for each weekday of the week for $15. On Wednesdays, it is a tempura udon and sushi set. That was what my friend ordered and truely, it was not a bad deal at all. You won't go out of the doors hungry. Me, on the other hand, had a case of bad tummy and for the sake of not risking any aggrevation, I got one of my favourites - the saba shioyaki set …

Food Bloggers (3rd) Annual Dinner at Le Papillon

Food Bloggers (3rd) Annual Dinner at Le Papillon
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. It was a huge success! The largest turn-out (31) thus far. Thanks to June, for all the hard work and agony from organising it. It was a really wonderful evening of comradship over food, an essential of life and so basic, but is exactly what puts all 31 of us on common ground.

We started the evening with delicious, warm bread rolls, accompanied by florettes of whipped butter, while waiting for a couple of eventual "no-shows". A hungry blogger is an angry blogger.

It was followed quickly by an amuse bouche - Chef's signature watermelon with feta cheese and basil.

Thereafter, course after course of delicious things, dotted with 2 lucky draw moments, accompanied with excellent service from the (stressed-out) staff topping up the glasses with sponsored Fiji water and wine - a red, a white, and a dessert.

I have a hard time deciding what course I enjoyed the most - they were all exce…

Sage

Sage - Tuna
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. A few of us from work will each be taking turns to take longer periods of leave, starting from next week on. That means we would not be able to see each other all together for a while and hence, our excuse to hold a "pre-departure" gathering/dinner session before it happens. Thinking out loud, that dinner would be my first time with them despite being introduced for such a long time already. Okay, I am so not anti-social.

Anyway, I brought the babes to Sage, where we had a chill time. If only we did not have to work the next day, and if someone had remember to bring the bottle of wine! Ah, oh well.

The amuse bouche of chilled creamy pea soup was really good - what tasted like almost 100% pure pea puree bordered between being slightly sweet, slightly savory, but all in a delicious complementary manner. That certainly set an expectation to the rest of dinner.

The tuna first course (pictured) fortunately continued scaling …

Gunther's

Gunther's - Seafood of the day
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. I had the luck to try Gunther's for lunch recently and ordered their $38 4-course set lunch.

We started off with bread - sunflower seed bread stick, warm and crusty but with soft innards. I love mushrooms so the moment I saw the portabello appetizer, I was sold. It was topped with a poached egg and served with tomato confit and a brown sauce that could be marmite. In any case, I thought this dish was really well executed where everything complemented one other, including that strip of cream foam that usually served nothing but a decorative purpose. The meaty cap of funghi was delicious but then I could be biased. If I had to nit-pick, the egg yolk could be runnier; I suspect it suffered under the warmer but gosh, I still can't believe egg yolk and mushroom goes together!

For the main course, there was only 1 seafood option, stated as "seafood of the day" and it was this capellini pasta…

Manpudo Ramen

The girlfriend and I had plans to check out one of the Japanese izakaya at Cuppage just before heading to The Cathay to catch "Bourne: Ultimatum". But those plans were scraped when the girlfriend was extremely late and we did not have the luxury of time any longer.

Since we still had to have dinner (and I was starving!) we wanted food somewhere close to the cinema. Initially TCC was the place of choice to get some food but then I saw Manpudo Ramen, which had took over Ramen Ramen at the same spot over at the Atrium, and both of us decided to stick to our former 'Japanese' dinner plan and have ramen instead.

On that Friday night, the restaurant was really not crowded. With only a laminated sheet containing 4 different variations for a menu, making a decision was rather easy - Aka Ramen for the girlfriend, and vegetable ramen (both $12) for me.

The pork broth was really tasty, sweet and milky. Though not extremely creamy, it had a consistency sort of like XO fish sou…

Bloody Cockle

Akagai sushi
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean. All my times at my favourite Japanese sushi restaurant, I avoided most of the clams and cockles. Somehow, those bivalves never seem appealing at all. However, on my very last visit to Kaisan, I actually ate an akagai sushi by accident!

As I found out, this "red shell fish" contains plenty of hemoglobin and iron, hence the color of the meat is red in color. Initially, I thought it would have a metallic taste but oddly, it was just crunchy and quite tasteless. Having tried it now, I am still not a fan so I don't think I'll ever order it again.

On hindsight, I probably was served the akagai by mistake. See, on that fateful night, Chef Thomas was extremely busy as the entire restaurant was bustling with his regulars, all of whom were there with the same reason as mine, to patronise the cosy and familiar surroundings one last time, so it was his assistant who served us the akagai. Chef Thomas would have known …