Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

The Dylan Diaries: Mother’s Day Lunch at TOWN Restaurant

Dylan: For Mother’s Day last year, Daddy just brought Mummy for an impromptu celebration at Arteastiq… which was seriously just…

… cringe-worthy. Seriously, Daddy – you can do better than that! This woman pushed me out of her body, you know!

So this year, he did put in more effort and we went for a lunch buffet at Town Restaurant @ Fullerton, which was where they celebrated jiu jiu’s birthday last year when I was still in Mummy’s tummy.

There I am!

All I remember was lots of salmon cones (about 15 to be exact), strawberry lemon tarts and macarons jostling for space with me in Mummy’s tummy. Oh, I also remember Mummy blaming me for not being able to reach her tea:

 

Mummy, it’s not me, it’s the salmon cones. And why isn’t Daddy helping?

On to today’s lunch! Unlike the Courtyard, today’s spread was a more local one – with kueh pie tee and popiah station, nasi lemak, satay, a prata/roti john station as well as…

IMG_5519

IMG_5541

… a noodles station, with 3 different types of local noodle dishes – laksa, mee rebus and prawn noodles:

IMG_5531 

IMG_5532

Daddy really loved the satay station, whereas Mummy really loved the Indian food. What disappointed Mummy was that the Jap station had no sashimi…. Actually Mummy, you’re not supposed to be eating sashimi! You were so good when you had me, I’m going to tell on you when we next go to Dr. Chan. (Daddy: There’s a reason why we don’t bring you along, Dillie.)

While Mummy and Daddy enjoyed all the good local food, all I had was…

image

… soba. Yes, plain, dry soba.

Which they repeatedly dropped on my plate and watched in amusement as I gobbled everything up, even the smallest bits. I must have had a whole rice bowl full of clumpy green tea soba from that buffet. I officially hate Fullerton.

Well, when you’re given nothing else, what other choice do you have? I kept pointing at Daddy’s laksa, but all he did was laugh, dump more strands of soba in front of me, then continue slurping his laksa.

Wow. Thanks for giving me the best, parents.

Dessert spread was quite local too, with lots of kuehs, chiffon cakes, mee jiang kueh, bandung… More photos of things I couldn’t eat…

IMG_5527

IMG_5529

Ooh, volcanoes! 

IMG_5525

Ice kachang and chendol station

IMG_5543

I thought Mummy was so nice to order me this coloured ice for my sensory play… then she and Daddy just ate it up… All I got was a serviette!

IMG_5539

Daddy’s favourite scones from the Courtyard’s afternoon tea!

After Mummy and Daddy finished eating, no prizes for guessing what they did – to take photos! As if feeding me just soba wasn’t enough, now they want to bring me even closer to the food I can’t eat…

IMG_5546

So I refused to look at the camera throughout and kept staring at the food… Oh, Daddy bought that dress for Mummy for Mothers’ Day by the way. She likes it but I’m kinda confused. I remember Mummy used to say something about how horizontal stripes make you look rounder… You’re already kinda round because of baby sister Mummy, why are you wearing that then?? Make Daddy buy you another one!

IMG_5547

Just wait a while Daddy. Mummy needs a new dress.

IMG_5549

Hey I want that chicken wing!

image

When all else failed, I tried smiling cutely while playing peek-a-boo with the table-mat (yes, I was that desperate) to charm Mummy and Daddy into giving me at least some chendol…. to no avail.

Then, we went out for some photos…

IMG_5557

IMG_5554

Mummy kept trying to push me towards this black man, but I got so terrified…

IMG_5564Get me away from this black man!

Daddy: Dylan, you need to be careful with using such terms, do not ever call a man ‘black’ – it’s quite sensitive.

Dylan: Alright, go away you big black stone…

Daddy: ….

IMG_5555

 IMG_5566 Dylan: Just like you could see me in the earlier photo under Mummy’s white dress, you can also see my sister in the above photos! As you can see, Mummy’s holding me ‘above’ her, so I’m still the most important – I’m going to show her who’s the boss… nobody’s going to take my Mummy away from me. 😦

IMG_5560

See, I’m still the cutest! Even when my sister arrives, I’ll still be number one!

IMG_5568

Kinda became a bit mopey after thinking about how I’ll no longer be the sole object of Mummy and Daddy’s affection…

IMG_5569

Why God – wwwwhhhyyyy? Why must my life be so sad??

IMG_5574

Go away Daddy. Stop shoving that camera in my face.  Just let me be sad for a while….

IMG_5575

Yes, leave me alone, let me find some joy spending time with these flowers…. just spinning round…

IMG_5577

and round…  IMG_5579

And I’m happy again! I guess having a sister around to play with won’t be so bad after all…

IMG_5581

I just hope Mummy will lend me this volume button to put on my little sister, to quieten her down when she tries to take Mummy and Daddy away from me!

Anyway, thanks Mummy for taking such great care of me. I know it’s been tough on you, even with a second one coming along (hmph!), but we know that you always put us (I mean, me!) first and we’ll always be grateful for all that you’ve done. I guess that’s why you have this blog too, so that in years to come, if we forget and become ungrateful, you can always use this blog as evidence of all that you’ve done. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Advertisements

Couple time at St Marc’s Cafe

Andrew: It’s been really great having a public holiday every two weeks to allow us to relax and unwind – especially great when we can have some couple time!

Had read lots about St Marc’s Cafe from the food blogs I frequent, and this is apparently the ‘Starbucks’ equivalent in Japan.

We had their famous milk chocolate croissant (chococro) as a ‘starter’, and a croissant with green tea & red bean filling, which was nowhere near as nice. Dearie loved the chococro so much that we bought some back for her family, and they loved it too! (Jasmine: We actually  meant to order the white chocolate croissant but they got the order mixed up… I’m going back to try that one day!)

Besides that, we also tried the sandwiches! We’re quite into sandwiches now, such that we’ve even declared Saturdays as our ‘sandwich’ day. Our maid will make egg mayo and fry either corned beef or luncheon meat (sometimes – both) and we’ll just have eat those with bread, sometimes toasted with a slice of cheese. Simple yet tasty and satisfying!

This time, we had:

image

Egg mayo and prawn sandwich

image

Beef Pastrami and Swiss Cheese sandwich

Jasmine: I preferred my beef pastrami sandwich to Andrew’s egg mayo, which was a tad plain. The beef pastrami was flavourful and was offset well by the milder Swiss cheese. Now I want to replicate it on our family Sandwich Saturdays- a new weekend ritual we just started!

Andrew: I loved the crispy toasted edges of the bread, but the toasting also meant the sandwiches  were rather dry, especially the egg mayo and prawn one. I think toasting only works well when you have a very creamy or ‘melted’ filling. The sandwiches were accompanied by coleslaw and chips (a sure winner with Dearie)! One set like this cost about $8 each, which is a bit on the expensive side.

image

Royal Iced Milk Tea and Green Tea Latte

To accompany our food, we ordered their drinks, which were only average in my opinion. The Green Tea Latte wasn’t rich enough. I’ve had better tea lattes at Mc-Cafe – random point, their  Himalayan Tea Latte is fantastic! I even drove and stopped by a McCafe once before work just to get a latte to treat myself. (Jasmine: And my milk tea was substandard and watery… Even Mos Burger’s milk tea is nicer coz you can add as much milk as you want!)

On to the best part of the meal, the dessert!

image

Strawberry Heaven

Now, this was really good! It was a great mix of textures and flavours, with cornflakes, frozen strawberry bits, light sponge cake. I loved the crunch of the cornflakes! The soft serve ice cream was delicious! Loved it.

Will definitely be back again for more of the desserts! Kyoto Delight is next on my list.

Jasmine: This was a fantastic parfait! Everytime we dug a bit deeper we discovered a new ingredient. The cornflakes and soft serve were great!

Andrew: Always appreciate such times where we can have a relaxed meal and just enjoy quality conversation – we spoke about random things like whether to buy a sandwich maker (lol! – yes, so interesting), planning the week’s menu for our maid and planning the blog posts we could write (interestingly enough, this wasn’t on our list of posts!). Following that, my wife went for a massage and a little shopping, while I went off to Momentum Conference.

image

Eagerly awaiting… her massage and shopping spree!

Jasmine: I only spent $24… where got spree… However, it was $24 well spent, as I managed to get a last-minute appointment for a brow wax at Benefit!

Staycation @ Grand Park Orchard

Andrew: So – after so many entries about Dylan, thought we’d do one about some of the more ‘couply’ things we do! Yes, believe it or not, we still try find time to ensure that we have couple time. This, of course, won’t be possible without good family support, so we’re thankful when Jas’s family is willing to take in baby on special occasions and he has a ‘staycation’ of his own.

We usually have staycations at more quaint botique hotels, but this one time, we thought we’d look at a location that was more central and accessible to give us more activities (i.e. shopping and good dining!) to do. Narrowed our choices finally down to Grand Park Orchard – one of the newest hotels, right in the heart of the city.

IMG_5136

Jasmine: Grand Park Orchard is supposedly fashion-themed, but sticking a big mural of some model on the wall is too in your face, I think.IMG_5137

 IMG_5138

Our view of Paragon and Taka

Andrew: You can see why the location would be attractive to Dearie.

Jasmine: Yup, especially since Andrew bought me something 😀

IMG_5139

Andrew: Staycations are a nice way for us to take a breather, without having to fly to another country. Not that we don’t enjoy holidays – we certainly do, but sometimes it’s nice just to be a tourist in your own country and enjoy a luxurious, pampering time without being too far away from your family.

Upon checking in, we went for a massage. Note to those who are booking this hotel – it does not have its own spa, it only has 2 small rooms and the masseuses have to take a bus from Grand Park City Hall to this hotel, so they could be late arriving depending on bus schedule. Not the best arrangement – nonetheless, the massage was still decent.

Following that, we went for a feast!

Dinner @ Lawry’s Prime Rib

Jasmine: Quite on impulse, we decided to have dinner at Lawry’s, in large part because there was no queue.

Thankfully, every course was stellar.

IMG_5140

Lawry’s believes that the meal is incomplete without a salad, so this crunchy, savoury salad certainly whetted our appetites. It also left me intrigued about trying their famous Spinning Salad in future, where the salad is tossed in a spinning bowl on top of ice to keep it cool.

IMG_5143

Holiday Greens: Mixed greens, crisp Oyster Mushrooms, Lemon Cheese and Balsamic Citrus Dressing

IMG_5146

Scallop Wrapped in Smoked Bacon 

IMG_5153

Lobster Pumpkin Bisque

IMG_5157

My pretty wife!

IMG_5160

Dark Cherry Chicken & Foie Gras with Sweet Cherry Sauce

Jasmine: This was my main course, as I’ve never been one for beef or steak, and it was quite good! The slab of foie gras, while not the highest quality, was generous and soaked up the dark cherry sauce well. Eaten in the same bite as the succulent chicken, one could not be more satisfied.

IMG_5161

Signature Roasted Prime Ribs

IMG_5164

IMG_5165

IMG_5166

Strawberry Symphony: Strawberry with Sweet Balsamic Sauce, Custard Pastry, Strawberry Mousse and Haagen Dazs Ice-cream

Andrew: I had heard lots about Lawry’s – especially their prime ribs, but hadn’t been there before. As Dear mentioned earlier, almost every dish being a hit from the salad to the desserts. The signature prime rib didn’t disappoint at all – tender, juicy with a lots of gravy to go with it. You don’t get creamed corn very often as a side in restaurants here. Loved it!  Yorkshire pudding brought back memories of Leeds, where it was almost a staple in the Refectory (their version of ‘canteen’) where they would just put all sorts of stews in it. Too bad it was just a sliver of it that they served – barely even a quarter of a Yorkshire pudding. We’ll be back again for sure!

Eh, not to just write about the food – but it was also great just having a nice, relaxed dinner with my Dear, without having to tend to Dylan. We had time to get a little geeky and became reflective, chatting about how we had grown over the past year as parents *gulp* – also wondered how we were going to cope in the new year with more transitions once again.

Right after dinner, we did something extremely ‘touristy’ – went to Taka food hall!

Jasmine: We have never been party animals, so we contented ourselves with buying random Japanese and German items from the Taka basement back to the hotel for our midnight snack. My favourite was the rice cracker with red bean paste. The red bean came packaged separately from the cracker to preserve the cracker’s freshness, and the combination of creamy sweet red bean and crispy salty cracker was lovely.

IMG_5169

The best snacks were the Jap ones: Fukuwatashi Senbei (cookie) [right most in the front row],  Kogame Mochi (Rice Cake) [middle of front row], Koganeawase (Bean Cake) [rectangular shaped cookie in the middle] and Leaf Pie [left most, front row]

Andrew: All the Jap cookies were great, but my favourite had to be the cookie in the front right and the bean cake. Yum! We even went back to buy more the next day. The huge white ball that you see is supposed to be some kind of German cookie – a tad bit too sweet for me, honestly, but still finished it anyway!

Went for a morning jog the next day around Orchard Road – first time ever being in Orchard so early in the morning – and went to the gym too. We had our breakfast (which consisted of the snacks above), we continued the ‘Jap theme’ and went to one of our favourite Jap restaurants for lunch – Tonkatsu Ma Masion!

IMG_5176

Andrew: I had the Hungarian Pork Loin, upon ladyironchef’s recommendation. It was tender and juicy, yet not too oily. There was such a wide range of sauces to dip your tonkatsu in, but our favourite had to be the ‘goma sauce’ dip, which was creamy and slightly sweet and sourish.

IMG_5177

Jasmine: Another restaurant that doesn’t disappoint! And extra points for the refillable miso soup, rice and salad too! I had three bowls of miso soup- flavourful, strong and with plenty of ingredients! Gee, now I sound like Andrew, who loves almost anything free flow.

IMG_5171To sound more like myself, I will just add that I enjoyed our impromptu staycation lots, maybe, just maybe ‘coz I scored a Paul Smith dress on 50% off and Dear bought me a Marc Jacobs wallet… To start 2014 right. Heh.

Andrew: We should really blog more about our staycations – time to trawl through old photo albums to uncover photos of our previous staycations!

Jasmine: Yes, but don’t think that replaces booking future staycations! 😀

Baby-Friendly Restaurants with Attached Playrooms

Jasmine: We visited three restaurants with attached playrooms over the past two weekends and thought we would do a comparison.

Andrew: We’ve written quite a lot about restaurants in previous posts, which I think is good – because it still shows that we’ve retained our foodie selves even while having a kid – just that we now have a new criteria for restaurants!

Bank Bar & Bistro

Jasmine. This looks like a modern incarnation of an English pub, right? Mahogany panelling, brass fixtures, overall old-time colonial feel.

wpid-20140322_151613.jpg

wpid-20140322_151635.jpg

Jasmine: Actually, this was where we met Ruth and her daughter Lucia for lunch-cum-playdate at The Bank Bar & Bistro, and I would say it was the most baby-friendly restaurant I have been to in Singapore.

We are always on the lookout for baby-friendly eateries, so much so that my geeky husband has even drawn up a BFI (baby-friendliness index) to grade all the restaurants we have visited recently.

When we first arrived, the two babies were given plastic cutlery and paper placemats they could colour on during the meal and coloring pencils were provided on request. We parents also came prepared- Ruth had 3 books and we brought Dylan’s favourite wheel along.

Dylan and Lucia did a toy swop- here’s Lucia playing with Dylan’s wheel while Dylan ponders the existential dilemma that is the hole in Lucia’s Peter Rabbit book:

wpid-20140322_143816.jpgLucia’s kitty dress is so adorable!

wpid-20140322_143837.jpg

Jasmine: We were too busy (read: picking toys off the floor and feeding babies) to take photographs of the food, but the offerings are adult and baby-friendly.

High scores here for menu and value for money. Ruth and Andrew had weekend brunch sets, which are $26.80 for a striploin or 1/2 spring chicken AND a chocolate cake. I ordered an Eggs Pacifico (smoked salmon version of Eggs Benedict) from the All Day Breakfast section, which turned out to be a great deal as a kiddy meal comes free with every All Day Breakfast order! We actually ordered pancakes for the babies to share but they had run out so we went with carbonara instead. Which Dylan got about 3 strands of and Andrew and I finished the rest. So as not to waste food, you see.

Andrew: Yup, the striploin was worth it – with a decent portion of meat and yorkshire pudding with boiled vegetables. The boiled vegetables can also be given to the little ones to gnaw on. The chocolate cake that came with the set was alright – I much preferred the brownie that Jasmine is going to feature below, which is frankly speaking one of the best I’ve tasted ever.

Jasmine: Still feeling peckish, I also ordered a dessert –no no, not for myself but for my unborn baby girl who wanted womb service (Andrew: Yea right!) — a warm chocolate brownie with ice cream, strawberry and a very gooey, umami peanut butter sauce!

wpid-20140322_144203.jpg

Jasmine: After lunch, the babies made a mandatory trip to the attached playroom. Seriously, how did I not discover attached playrooms before?? Dylan gets restless from sitting in a high chair too long, but at other restaurants, he doesn’t have anywhere where he can play. This attached playroom was clean, new and came in so useful.

I also read somewhere that the toys are rented so they change monthly!

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0048.jpg

Jasmine: Lucia and Dylan made a beeline for the ball pool and slide. (Ruth said that Dylan was holding the letter "A" for "Andrew".)

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0004.jpg

wpid-20140322_151146.jpg

Lucia has the sweetest smile!

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0005.jpg

Andrew: Both little babies enjoyed the ball pool lots. I mean, who wouldn’t! My only gripe was that it’s too small. I recall when I was a kid, my parents used to bring me to this ball pool at a Burger King (?) at Parkway parade. We used to go crazy there and could spend hours there. It was deep enough such that the 5 year old me could be ‘buried’ under the balls and we would use to ‘hide’ ourselves under the pool and ‘jump up’ to shock each other. wpid-20140322_152612.jpg

wpid-20140322_152108.jpg

Jasmine: Dylan spent ages in that playroom, going from the building block table to a train set and a tunnel. In fact, when I finally pulled him out, he wasn’t too pleased about it.

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0044.jpg

wpid-20140322_151020.jpg

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0046.jpg

Jasmine: One happy camper at the end of the lunch date (and check out the supercute berms I bought from Mothercare’s summer sale. It’s actually swimwear but I thought the crab was so cute so I went ahead and bought it.)

Andrew: This restaurant is in Shenton Way, which is super quiet during the weekend and thus has a very relaxed, chill vibe. I really enjoyed myself there. While the kids (and wives) were enjoying themselves in the playroom, I sat back and enjoyed a nice cup of latte. Ahh.. I look forward to the day when my kids are old enough to entertain themselves safely and I can just plonk them in any playroom while I take some time off. 🙂

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0036.jpg

Jasmine: Dilly was so tired out from the two plus hours of excitement and ball pools that he fell asleep without any fuss in the car, surrounded by all his books.

Verdict: We’ll be back again!

wpid-IMG-20140322-WA0049.jpg

La Barca Ristorante

Jasmine: In terms of value for money, The Bank Bar with its weekend brunch specials and free kids’ meals wins hands down. Sadly, the food at La Barca was disappointingly just ok. I had higher expectations seeing that the chef used to helm a one Michelin star restaurant previously (emphasis on "used to", I guess), but almost every offering on the menu, from the mozarella omelette to the mushroom risotto to the lamb ribs was… so-so.

IMG_5275

IMG_5276 IMG_5277

Only the desserts — the dark chocolate tart, the tiramisu and orange creme brulee, with us ranking the creme brulee as the best out of the three) were worth the calories.

IMG_5292

Jasmine: I would rather go back to Cafe Melba, which is just as kid-friendly (bouncy castle and large field for older kids to run around), serves more delish food and is also located at Goodman Arts Centre.

Andrew: Agreed that the food was a disappointment and not cheap as well, for the type of food and portion size. My lamb ribs were rather unsatisfying. Based on my blog-surfing though, I realise that this restaurant is actually more famous for dinner, but I probably won’t be coming back any time soon.

Jasmine: The attached playroom, which looked so bright and cheery in photos online, was also quite tired-looking in real life and had a smell of musty shoes 😦 However, that did not stop Dylan from using the Vtech walker and exploring the activity table and the slide. When he got fidgety, we could also just pop him in there while waiting for more food to arrive.

wpid-IMG-20140323-WA0018.jpg

wpid-IMG-20140323-WA0017.jpg

wpid-IMG-20140323-WA0016.jpg

wpid-IMG-20140323-WA0015.jpg

Jasmine: Sidenote. Can I also just say how much I love this little outfit on Dyl? The super-cute rainbow checked shorts come with matching yellow canvas belt and were bought by my sister, while the shirt was also from Mothercare’s summer sale.

It was just a day before Dylan’s actual 1st birthday, so my mum baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for him- one that he could actually eat, as I still am quite doubtful about giving him sugar or chocolate, heh. Complete with a train and train tracks made from spaghetti! I doubt Dylan understood the significance, but he was so good and serious, posing earnestly for all the cake photos as if he knew these photos would mean more to us than to him. Heh.

wpid-IMG-20140323-WA0022.jpgwpid-IMG-20140323-WA0019.jpg

Jasmine: Dylan did knock out though, falling asleep in the car and remaining asleep (which happens like once out of every 20-30 times) through two transfers, when I carried him out of the car seat and put him in the crib. So I guess he must have enjoyed himself after all, and that’s what counts 🙂

Treehouse @ Grandstand

Andrew: Grandstand is a wonderful place to go during weekends, especially if you have kids because it’s just bustling with energy and so many places for kids to enjoy themselves. Reviews of this place were mixed and we weren’t expecting much in terms of food – hence no photographs. The Rosemary chicken was decent, but the Mac and Cheese was rather terrible, in my honest opinion.

Jasmine: It looked and tasted like it had just come out of a can. But let’s be very honest here, people come to such restaurants for the playrooms, not the food. So just keep your expectations low and enjoy the sight of little children hard at play! What I enjoyed most was Dyl having so much fun that he fell asleep in the stroller for the first time… for one hour, which gave us plenty of time to wander around Pasarbella and buy back my favourite Russian chocolate cake:) Win-win for baby and parents. Yay!

Andrew: Heh. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to come to a place with a 2 storey playroom and the most important part was that Dylan had fun!

20140331-210310.jpg

20140331-210319.jpg

Andrew: I find that one of the signs of a good playroom is messiness. The one at La Barca was a little too neat, that you kinda felt a little conscious when you were moving things out of their position. Perhaps there weren’t too many kids there at that age to appreciate their playroom. This playroom in Treehouse was to put it simply – chaotic! There were toys strewn all around, books and cards on the floor and basically free for all, with kids dashing up and down the stairs. Well, it was this rowdy atmosphere that made Dillie extremely comfortable there and he just crawled all around on his own, exploring the various toys available.

Jasmine: Oh that’s a good point. I didn’t think of that. I just define a good playroom as something that knocks the child out after 😀 So all three restaurants in this post pass that bar. Haha.

 

20140331-210150.jpg

Pounding on blocks with a hammer

20140331-210225.jpg

20140331-210235.jpg

Andrew: His favourite turned out to be this Thomas the train, which he pushed all around the place like a walker.

20140331-210245.jpg

 

20140331-210256.jpg

Jasmine: He also had a go making “soup” from nuts and bolts at the play kitchen on the “second floor” of the treehouse

20140331-210303.jpg

20140331-210328.jpg

Andrew: And finally, some peace and quiet and Dylan has the whole upper floor to himself – well, not for long anyway.

Verdict: We wouldn’t specially come all the way to Grandstand for the restaurant, and this playroom wasn’t as cosy as the one at Bank Bar. However, I would definitely come here if I were at Grandstand when Dylan was slightly older – perhaps 2 or 3. Honestly though, they could consider doing something about the food, which is currently below average. I have yet to find a restaurant with a good playroom that also serves great food.

Jasmine’s Birthday Staycation!

Andrew: Given that it was Jasmine’s first birthday celebration as a mum, I wanted to make it truly special for her, so I planned a weekend of pampering and romance for her.

They say once you become parents, ‘romance’ becomes the last thing on your mind as your focus is now on your child, tending to him, ensuring he/she is well-taken care of and you start seeing each other as mother/father instead of husband/wife. It is true that it has been more challenging to find ‘date’ time, hence special occasions become times where we do something special for each other.

We stayed at Park-Royal on Pickering, supposedly one of the most eco-friendly and modern hotels – we’ll talk more about that at the end of the post. Booked her a pampering massage and little did she know that while she was having her massage, I went in search for roses to create a nice surprise for her in the room. Unfortunately I didn’t know where cheap ones could be found nearby so I ended up going all the way back home to the florist near our place to get these roses! It was my first time doing this and I’m glad it turned out well:

IMG_4996IMG_4998 

Jasmine: After a lovely massage where I fell asleep, it was wonderful coming back and being totally blown away. Andrew has done many sweet things for me when we were dating, but never anything this romantic. For the old-fashioned girl in me, it was bliss. Thank you dearie.

IMG_5010 
The birthday girl with her birthday surprise:

IMG_5018

Jasmine: I also selected this unusual bouquet in a basket with red calla lilies from good ol’ Far East Flora:

IMG_5016

Andrew: After that, we made our way to Sky on 57 by Michelin Star chef, Justin Quek. Ambience and food were great!

Jasmine: What I like about Sky on 57 is that it combines Singaporean flavours with a European refinement. If you are looking for strong, robust tastes, you won’t find them here; rather, what you can expect are subtle hints of popular flavours, such as the laksa emulsion for the codfish.

IMG_5020 IMG_5022

IMG_5023 IMG_5033 

 IMG_5035 IMG_5038

IMG_5039

Andrew: We were enjoying the quality time and food, so didn’t really get to take down the names of the dishes, but the best dish was his signature Foie Gras xiao long bao (with consomme of black truffle, braised and minced pork). It was great, just having time to talk and get to know each other again.

Happy Birthday Dearie!

IMG_5045

 IMG_5048 IMG_5052

Andrew: The macarons were also pretty good – gula melaka (if I’m not wrong), and we ordered a few to bring back.

Jasmine: These pandon macarons with gula java filling delivered the intense hit of sugar and taste that complemented the subtle meal perfectly.

IMG_5062

Night View on top of MBS

Andrew: Went around taking some pictures of the hotel to walk off our dinner:

IMG_5069

IMG_5075

 IMG_5076IMG_5081

IMG_5064

Andrew: The rose petals were repurposed into a petals-bath for Dearie (Jasmine: clever!)

IMG_5089

And we had in-room dining for lunch (Caesar Salad + Nasi Goreng) the next day :

IMG_5091Andrew: The most important part of this celebration was not the luxury, the food, the hotel or the pampering, but just time to reconnect as a couple and create wonderful memories together. 

Jasmine: Oh yeah, did I mention that because it was my birthday, we got upgraded to a suite? Check it out: 

By day

IMG_4991

IMG_4974

By night

IMG_5086

Our sitting room:

IMG_4973  IMG_4986

Jasmine: Some detail shots. I liked the hotel’s commitment to eco-friendliness. The fridge was lined with metal to insulate the cold, rather than blow cold air in like conventional fridges. Rather than offer mineral water in plastic bottles, the drinking water in the glass bottles were purified by the hotel. I took quite a fancy to those glass bottles and was rather tempted to bring one home… but honesty prevailed at the end of the day. Heh.

IMG_4983 IMG_4978IMG_4975 IMG_5095 
Jasmine: The toilet with the double sink- another luxury I’d love to have in a future home.

IMG_4977

Jasmine: To reduce the carbon footprint, Parkroyal on Pickering also does vertical gardening. I went on a LJ to URA and found out that URA mandates that all new properties have “green areas” equivalent to the size of the building’s foundation. So I guess the plant-lined terraces that give the hotel its distinctive geometric look are there to fulfil the green quota. Smart, since they’ve turned it into an architectural highlight.

IMG_5005

Not the best picture but gives you an idea of what I was trying to say about the hotel incorporating vertical gardens in the architecture.

IMG_5100

  IMG_5105

Jasmine: pavilions by the pools. And yes, that’s the floral bouquet being “worn” as a bag!

IMG_5117

IMG_5109

IMG_5113

Baby-Friendly Dining

Andrew: Before we got married and had Dylan, this blog used to be almost 70% about the restaurants we visited while dating. Well, obviously restaurant-hopping was greatly limited when Dylan was breast-feeding, but now that he’s started eating more solids, we’ve started exploring again!

Jasmine: Dylan had his first taste of solids (steamed carrot) when he was six months old, and since then it’s been a lot of fun offering him a variety of table foods and cooking for him too! It has also made bringing him out easier- previously he would have to be held while he vainly snatched at food that we had to push out of his reach. Now, he can be part of mealtimes and feed himself while we eat and maybe have a civilised conversation too. This baby has tried quite a few cuisines, from Japanese to Western to Italian!

Andrew and Jasmine: Some of our guidelines for baby-friendliness include:

  1. Availability of High Chairs: High chairs are a given. The Ikea ones are the best at this stage as that is what we use at home. The wooden ones are meant for bigger kids and Dyl wriggles, stands and even turns around backwards in them. Helps when the restaurant is more spacious too, cos it means that people won’t keep bumping into him.
  2. Menu: menu is baby-friendly, healthy, nutritious and allows Dyl to feed himself (so that we can eat too!)
  3. Facilities: Proximity to washroom, and baby room. Most disastrous case was when we went to this Lebanese restaurant at Greenwood which had a miniscule toilet and I had no choice but to change him WHILE CARRYING HIM. Nonetheless he was still uncomfy and kept squirming and bawling – that was a workout on its own.
  4. Staff: This is where Bali really stood out and we haven’t found such standards here. In one restaurant there, they didn’t have high chairs and the waitresses set up a comfortable area for him by putting 2 chairs and many cushions together. They even took turns to carry him while we were having dinner.
  5. Play Facilities: attached playroom or garden scores MAJOR BONUS POINTS

Here are some places we’ve brought Dillie too lately (meaning the past few months) and our thoughts on their baby-friendliness:

Spruce

image

Andrew: Service was really good here and the waiter offered to prepare some complimentary toast specially for him when they usually charge for the bread basket. Dylan enjoyed the little mini-burgers for him too. 🙂 It was quite special bringing him here, because we still had memories of celebrating one of our Valentines’ Day here.

Basilico

Andrew: We really enjoyed ourselves here. However, the high chair was too big for Dillie and he kept wanting to climb out of it.

image

Jasmine: I was super excited about this restaurant as many bloggers had raved about it being the best Italian buffet in town, and it was! Aromatic truffle risotto, best selection of parma ams and cheeses at ANY buffet I’ve been to. However, we had not factored in the too-big high chair, which meant that Dyl always had to be closely supervised instead of left to eat on his own. However, he seemed to like the spread we prepared for him (plucked from the buffet), which included carrots, oven-roasted potatoes and cheddar and parmesan.

image

La Nonna

image

Jasmine: This is one of our favourite hole-in-the-wall type restaurants, with some excellent Italian pasta here. I have been here several times over the last few years and have yet to be disappointed. Dilly enjoyed it too, and spent forever gnawing on a baguette with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), while turning around backwards to smile at the girl at the next table. Pfft.

Cafe Melba

Andrew: Dillie was at a phase where he kept wanting to stand, so this was quite tough as he kept wanting to break free from the chair.

image

Our dear boy standing tall and proud

Nonetheless, the bread kept him really occupied and there was fantastic mashed potato which he loved and so did Mummy and Daddy. It’s always great when we can all share food as a family. Downside was the restaurant was a little squeezy and also tables were quite full of stuff, so we had to keep stopping him from reaching out for stuff.

image

Jasmine: Yes, Dilly also got to try my dark rye bread with cheddar. He eats a lot of bread at restaurants coz it’s easily available, he loves the taste and range of textures especially when topped with cheese or EVOO and can spend forever masticating just one slice = more eating time for me. Outside of restaurants, we rarely give him bread as it’s processed, but inside restaurants, it’s a lifesaver. Everything in moderation 🙂

DB Bistro Moderne

image

Andrew: We saw quite a lot of kids and babies in this restaurant. Menu was kid-friendly – burgers and fries, but not exactly baby-friendly. Nonetheless, anywhere with bread is a winner for our dear Dillie. High chair was good too! Big minus points though as the baby room was almost 10 minutes walk away and the worst part was I brought him there only to realise he hadn’t pooped!

Jasmine: Actually, there was a bathroom inside the restaurant, dear. Here’s a pic of their signature burger with foie gras in the centre!

DBBurger

Japanese Restaurants

image

Jasmine: I love bringing Dyl to Japanese restaurants as there is a fairly healthy range of textures and tastes. We have been to Sun with Moon, Tampopo Grand, Sushi Tei and MOF. Dyl loves cucumber sushi (yes, he eats the seaweed too), chawanmushi and green tea soba.

Savour 2014

20140309_173754Jasmine: We didn’t get to go to Savour 2013 as I was in confinement then, so when we had a couple free hours that weekend between family commitments this year, we decided to go on a whim! Savour is essentially an outdoor dining carnival consisting of a gourmet village “inhabited” by different celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs from around the world, selling their signature items at fast food prices.

Andrew: Obviously this would score low on baby-friendliness index – no high chair, menu completely not for babies, and very crowded!

image

For this case, it’s more of us adapting to ensure he doesn’t fuss too much by bringing a banana to entertain him (while we eat food from 1-Michelin star restaurants!) and bringing his bike instead of a stroller, because of space constraints.

Jasmine: Well, we enjoyed the gourmet experience and Dilly enjoyed the breezy stroll by Marina Bay.

image

I wanted to let Dyl try some of the dishes (ok, just the duck breast and pork belly) but Andrew, being the more cautious parent, vetoed it, so Dyl had to settle for banana. Heh.

Andrew: Well, in conclusion, while there are certain factors that make some restaurants more baby-friendly, it’s also how you adapt to the circumstances and ensure that your child is sufficiently entertained throughout.

Dining out with Dylan

Andrew: One of the tips that I read about the transition from being a married couple without kids to having kids is to try to get back to the activities you love to do together as soon as possible. The key is find ways to bring the baby along with you, so that he/she also becomes a part of what both of you enjoy doing as a couple (as far as is possible).

Jazzy and I both love eating out and exploring interesting food places, but bringing babyD out is a whole new ball game – but we’re getting the hang of it. Some of our new considerations when dining with Dylan…

1. Ensure that dining location has nursing facilities within the same building (if not, ensure we feed and change diapers before).

photo(15)

Yes, it’s always good to have a nursing room nearby or else baby will pull a face and not be cooperative in photos. (@Arteastiq)

Extended degustation menus, like Ja’an, no longer seem very feasible.

2. Roster eating ‘schedule’. With baby along with us, we now have to take turns to eat our food while the other takes care of baby.

 photo(4) photo

Both of us taking turns to carry Dylan at House@Dempsey

Jasmine: We have been asked why we don’t just bring a stroller and “park” Dylan in there. Well, simply because there is no guarantee that he’d be happy to lie down and stare upwards while the rest of us feast. Nah, I’d rather include him in the meal even if it’s tougher on us. But of course, we’re always very grateful for relatives who offer to carry him or walk him around the restaurant even for just 5 or 10 minutes- that’s when we attack the food, knowing our time is limited. Haha!

photo(2)  photo(3)
BabyD’s jiujiu being the willing ‘m-anny’ – even using the sling  (which Andrew refused to use ) @Paradise Inn

Andrew: At a recent visit to my family doctor, he advised me too about not getting babies hooked onto technology devices and always getting them to be part of the ‘mingling’ in the family, or else the kids will grow up always excluding themselves from family conversations and hooked onto their technology devices.

3. Ordering food that can be easily eaten with a fork or spoon (not both)

Andrew: It’s always an added benefit if we order finger food or food that can be easily eaten with just one utensil, because that means we can also eat while holding baby. (Jasmine: Through trial and error, we’ve found out that fried rice, wanton, Swensen’s chips and dips are great for one-handed eating. Spaghetti- bad idea.)

photo(12)

Easy to eat food while carrying baby – shrimp with polenta and basalmic vinegar – yum! (@Otto Ristorante)

photo(7)

Not-so-easy to eat food while carrying baby
– Pork Belly Main course @ Saveur, Far East Plaza

Andrew: At times, we have even resorted to helping the other person cut up the food (especially if it’s Western), so that the other person can eat the food while holding baby. (Jasmine:  I’m  someone who enjoys admiring the presentation of the food so this is actually the part that I dislike most, the smashing up of food. Not exactly the dignified wine-and-dines I’d envisioned for my adult life, haha.)

4. Cushioned-bench seating is ideal!

Jasmine: Extra spot to stash baby carrier and bag? Check.

When Dylan was a newborn, we also got away several times with putting him to sleep on benches while we ate (with one hand on him, of course).

photo(8) 
Now that he’s awake a lot more and loves to participate in family mealtimes (by which I mean, banging the table and grabbing our pasta), we need to keep him on our laps while we try to swivel a spoonful of food around his wriggling body and into our mouths.

photo(13)

Baby comfortably lying down at the swivel seat @TCC and the cushioned seats at Otto Ristorante (the waiter specially moved us there)

One good compromise is to go for high teas instead! The huge plush sofas and armchairs are alot wider than the typical bench. We like Sunday afternoon tea at Ritz-Carlton.

babyritzcarlton

Andrew: Yes, we don’t deny that eating out is definitely more tedious than when it was just the 2 of us and there are places that we would be rather out of place now with baby – but we have definitely gotten better and meals are much more fun with our dearest BabyD around.

V-Day 2012

Andrew: This blog has been neglected for too long! Not because we have nothing to write, but because there’s been so much to write about that we have no idea where to start. We had ambitious plans to write lengthy entries on food recommendations in the US, but just never got round to it! Figured that V-day gives us the perfect opportunity to resurrect our blog again 🙂

This V-day was different from other V-days because we not only got to spend dinner together, but lunch as well! Moving to HQ has given us the same lunch hours and of course, we are also nearer to each other. Having lunch and dinner together does make it seem like we spent the whole V-day together 🙂

Lunch: Hosted at the Patio (911B Alexandra Road)

Andrew: We were initially intending to just go to Anchorpoint to have a simple meal and some quality time together, but a quick search on Hungrygowhere showed up this highly rated restaurant just 5 minutes drive from Dearie’s workplace!

Because we made a reservation, we got these special seats at a nice, quiet nook of the restaurant:

IMG_2134

Andrew: I loved the decor of this place – light, spacious and relaxed. It has a very nice, lush backyard feel to it.

Jasmine: Yes, my dear husband has become really good at picking out restaurants that I will like. I liked the decor of our lunch venue and the food philosophy behind our dinner venue!

IMG_2137

Birdcage lights – Reminded me of our wedding 

Jasmine: Yes, we’ll write more about the decor later. The open concept, apple-green hue and nature-themed accents, like the branch mural, and the birdcage lamps (idea for recycling our wedding birdcage props??), really made this a lovely spot for a working lunch or casual date.

IMG_2148

Enjoying a quiet moment together

Our food:

IMG_2150
Smoked duck linguine

Andrew: The smoked duck linguine came highly recommended. It was pretty good – relatively generous portions with a good mix of textures. The smoked duck was nice and succulent and the asparagus was crisp and fresh. However, I felt that the sauce was a little too strong, which made the whole dish only have ‘one’ taste where as it could have benefitted from allowing the tastes of the duck and asparagus to stand out more.

IMG_2153

Penna Vodka – Penne served with vodka flamed rose sauce topped with Parmesan shavings

Andrew: This was okay – it just tasted like regular penne with a more rich, tomato base.  

Jasmine: Yes, I ordered this out of sheer curiosity about the vodka flamed rose sauce. Unfortch I tasted neither vodka nor rose, only sauce. The sauce was sufficiently creamy but nothing to write home about.

IMG_2161

Green tea creme brulee with almond biscotti

IMG_2162

Andrew: The creme brulee came with a nice assembly of summer fruits at the side. This was for me the stand out dish from Hosted. I usually hate anything that has green tea, but this was wonderfully balanced and smooth. Thumbs up!

Jasmine: I prefer creme brulees that have a lighter, ‘whipped’ texture, whereas the consistency of this one resembled custard more than souffle. The green tea infusion was a refreshing take on the traditional creme brulee though.

IMG_2157

Our first ever V-day lunch together!

Oh – and as we are currently into a ‘planning for our new home’ season, we are always on the lookout for design inspiration! The white colour scheme is something we’re quite keen on having – these chairs below (leaf-themed) were also rather cool:

IMG_2158

There were even these leaves imprinted into the pavement outside of the restaurant:

IMG_2163

A lovely sofa for drinks in the evenings:

IMG_2164 
It was wonderful just spending some quality time with Dearie. Escaping from work to do something we love – exploring restaurants – and chatting about what we like, it really didn’t feel like a workday at all. 🙂

Dinner: Bistro Soori @ 2 Teck Lim Road

Andrew: For dinner, we headed to Bistro Soori – completely different feel and type of cuisine (contemporary modern cuisine) from Hosted at the Patio. We didn’t take any pictures of the decor, but I quite liked the marble table-top. You can see it at the picture here.

IMG_2165

Many other couples must have heard of this place too as the only clientele for that night was couples celebrating V-day – and the most interesting thing – was that every couple was seated in the same way – the woman inside on the cushioned seat and the man outside. 

IMG_2170

Andrew: We quite liked the bread and asked for second servings, but they took a long time to get us a second serving and said that the chef had been informed. Minus points for service!  You mean, they only prepared enough just for 2 slices per table? 

Jasmine: The other point deduction was for not having our reservation. Apparently the concierge did not see Andrew’s email reply confirming our reservation, and therefore did not prepare a place for us initially. Tsk!

IMG_2171

Happy V-day (again) Dearie!

Starter

IMG_2172

Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Pumpkin, Frisse, Pumpkin Seed,
Yuzu Gastrique

Andrew: What makes the food in Bistro Soori stand out is its combination of ingredients from all around the world to subtly alter the flavours, but not be too over-the-top fusion. This can almost compete with Jaan’s pork belly, though I thought Jaan’s was more delicately prepared. The sourness of the yuzu sauce did enhance the saltiness of the pork belly well, but I wasn’t quite sure how the other ingredients worked to enhance the pork belly’s flavour. The belly was well-prepared though with nice, juicy texture.

Jasmine: There was yuzu ah?? As I’ve mentioned before, pork belly is often underrated in the cuisine world, with many regarding it as a poor man’s alternative to its richer cousins like beef cheek. The slow roast method really sealed in the juices well but Jaan’s pork belly is still far superior, in my opinion, with its perfect layers of fatty, tender meat, topped off with a cracklingly crispy skin.                                                                                                       IMG_2176

Rack of Lamb, Plum Tomato, Black Olive, Green Olive,
White Anchovy

Andrew: The rack of lamb was fantastic – succulent and robust flavours. The plum tomatoes were great – and I usually hate tomatoes – very fresh and juicy. Perhaps its a bit of the eccentric style of this place – the anchovy, I thought, was rather out of place. Another minor complaint is that the serving was too small. I chowed down my rack of lamb in no time. Plus points for using cool serving plates that really bring up the colours of the food!

Jasmine: Yes, would the restaurant sell us a few for personal use…

IMG_2179IMG_2180

Umi, scallop, prawn, risotto, yuzu, thai basil 

IMG_2177 
Andrew: The risotto was well-prepared and the seafood was so fresh. What more could you ask for!

Jasmine: The risotto was buttery but it was the scallops that were standouts, in my opinion- succulent and mildly sweet. In fact, I had read many, many rave reviews about the scallops (although in different combinations, like with pistachio pesto, or in vinegar gelee), and therefore picked the mains that featured scallops.

IMG_2182

IMG_2183

Pandan Souffle with Strawberry compote

Andrew: Once again, the desserts stole the show! This was so well done. Light and airy texture, with the familiar, Asian flavour of Pandan. Visually stunning too!

Jasmine: Another dish that had gotten great feedback from patrons. I’m not one for heavy desserts so this unusual pandan souffle hit the nail on the head for taste and originality.

Andrew: Of course, what’s V-day without the V-day gifts! 🙂

V-day Gifts

For her: Shopping Spree at Kikki.K

IMG_2189

IMG_2190Andrew: Dearie needed some new stationery for her new workplace and she’s always going into kikki.k when we walk past, so I decided to give her a stationery shopping spree there.

Jasmine: I really needed an organiser to store all my bits and bobs, and I liked that the Kikki.K one had a cool graphic lining. I’m a sucker for design details like that. Thank you dear!

IMG_2192 
And of course, what’s a V-day celebration without flowers 🙂 Admittedly though, these flowers came in almost a week late.

Jasmine: That’s okay, I’m blessed to even have flowers! I even got to pick out the colour too- fuchsia roses, which lasted nearly a week.

For him: Chambray shirt from River Island

IMG_2193

Jasmine: Our V-day tradition is that our gifts should not exceed $100 each. We came in well under budget this year (maybe to offset the fact that we had two celebratory meals instead of one?). Andrew tried on a couple items at River Island, and although it wasn’t love at first sight for Andrew, I thought this shirt fit very well. Plus, I liked the material- a refined, pale denim that would be just right for dress-down Fridays.

And Andrew did indeed wear it to work last Friday:

IMG_2207

Andrew: Thanks Dear for a great V-day and a wonderful 3 months of married life. I’m so blessed to have such a great wife! 🙂

Healthy Food

Andrew: Jasmine and I have been trying to eat more healthily recently and started trying out interesting vegetarian places and other healthier options. There are days too when I opt to go for a vegetarian fast instead of a full fast, so this gives us some room to be creative with our choice of restaurants.

Here are a few good places to go to if you’re craving something interesting, but are concerned as well about calories. We’ll rank them in terms of price too!

1. Original Sin

Block 43, Jalan Merah Saga #01-64, Chipbee Gardens

Cost: Average about $30 per person for lunch

Andrew: Chip Bee Gardens has a very quaint, almost European vibe to it where you can find several restaurants and more upmarket grocery stores too. On a weekday afternoon, Original Sin was about 80% full which speaks of the quality of the food there. It is a Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant – the first and only in Singapore and prides itself on a love for fresh ingredients and passion for culinary creativity!

Dearie ordered the set lunch ($27++) which came with

 IMG_0303

A smoothie – BLUSH (banana, strawberry & milk)

  IMG_0308

A Mediterranean wrap

IMG_0305IMG_0306

Inside the wrap was chickpeas, pumpkin spread, grilled eggplant, feta & salad.

Jasmine: I enjoyed my wrap thoroughly, taking note of the lovely blend of bright colours and crunchiness of fresh veggies. It was a welcome change from meaty, fatty dishes, and yet it was filling too.

(Other choices for main courses include tofu burger, spaghetti or green salad)

and Dessert:

IMG_0315

Chocolate Brownie with ice-cream

Andrew: The set meal’s quite worth it because the smoothie on its own is at least $7 already. Because I like my food piping hot and warm, I didn’t quite like the Mediterranean wrap. The combination of vegetables was way too exotic for me and the flavours too mild. The chocolate cake was really good – moist and not too sweet. (Jasmine: Ditto- and I’m not much of a dessert person!)

For myself, I ordered

IMG_0313(Jasmine: On a random note, I love how Andrew’s Campbells T-shirt is a perfect fit for food entries. Heh.)

Vegetable Tandoori

IMG_0310

Chargrilled button mushroom, brinjal, capsicum, onion and tofu marinated in tandoori spices served with yoghurt, mango chutney and rice

Andrew: Now this was more my cup of tea. The intense flavours were great, though I’d have to say the tandoori spice doesn’t really go with some of the ingredients especially the lady’s fingers and mushrooms. However, it went fantastically with the sour tate of the tomatoes and the mushiness of the brinjals. Yum!

A big plus point about Original Sin is that reservation is easy. You can simply go to their website and make a reservation online. It’s fuss free and takes less than 3 minutes!

2. Skinny Pizza

The outlets we frequent more often are at Wheelock Place and Raffles Place.

Price: Dearie and I often end up paying about $25 per person but it’s because we only order one pizza per person or sometimes we order only one pizza and sides.

20110810-110641.jpg

Andrew: Yes, we know we’ve blogged about this before, but it still remains one of our favourite places for quality, healthy food. We went to Skinny Pizza again recently and we tried the Vietnamese Coconut Poached Chicken and Spinach with Cheese, which were both tremendously healthy (a bit too much!).

The Vietnamese chicken pizza (photographed above) consists of thick, broiled chicken breast pieces with vegetables, fresh onions, carrots, chili. It is generously doused with a Thai sweet chili sauce. Unfortunately, this is a ‘cold’ dish as the slices of chicken are cold and the rest of it is basically a salad. Very healthy, but once again, my disdain for cold meals applies here.

Jasmine: Poor dear. Upon first bite, his comment was "very tasty". Half a pizza later, it became "I think I’ll need a snack later", followed by helping himself to a slice of my pizza 🙂

Andrew: Besides the two we tried that day, we’ve also tried the Garlic Butter Chicken, Squid Ink and Wild Truffled Mushroom. My favourite is still the Wild Truffled Mushroom! If you are able to make it, they offer mini skinny pizzas at House@Dempsey’s High Tea buffets (Thursday and Fridays, 3 – 6 p.m.). It’s an affordable way to sample almost all of the Skinny Pizzas available.

Jasmine: Thumbs up for the Wild Truffled Mushroom- savoury and just a little woodsy! My spinach with egg pizza was filling, but the lumps of ricotta cheese made the whole dish too cloying, and the crispy pizza that is supposed to be Skinny’s signature eventually softened into a rubbery texture. I’ve also tried the squid ink pizza (it’s black!) with some girlfriends- it’s not something I’d recommend either, unfortunately. But I still love Skinny.

Andrew: If you’re keen on some sides, I strongly recommend the sweet potato nibbles as they are one of a kind and very good! You must share it though as they tend to get a bit too heavy going after a while.

3. Loving Hut

Location: Parklane Mall

Price: Average about $10 per person including drinks.

Andrew: Jasmine knew I was on a vegetarian fast and she actually spent a while doing a lot of research on interesting vegetarian food places that we could visit. We finally narrowed down our choices to Loving Hut. This is a place that serves vegan food and there are so many local delights done in a vegan fashion like Rendang, Sambal delight, Lemongrass curry, Assam curry etc.

20110710-092248.jpg

Andrew: I can’t remember the name of what I ordered, but it was very nice and savoury fried rice. (Jasmine: It was something akin to nasi bryani, if I remember correctly.) The egg was rather strange as it’s a ‘vegan egg’ – I’m not even sure what it’s made of, but they really replicated the entire texture of the egg! One gripe I had about the food though was that I felt it was too oily.

20110710-092258.jpg

Jasmine: I had the fried platter, which completely negated the point of visiting a vegetarian joint. Heh. The spring rolls and deep fried mushrooms were passable, but the fried "prawns", potato wedges and wantons were lacklustre and rather oily.

Subway Foot Long Club Sandwich

Cost: $6 per person (if you order a foot long sandwich, add on the meal and share it.)

20110710-092309.jpg

Andrew: And yes, if all else fails, there’s always Subway! Heh. Dearie brilliantly came up with a way to eat healthy and save money by ordering a foot-long meal and then share it! (Jasmine: Actually this was my mum’s idea! Heh.) It’s half the price and about 75% of the calories (as each of us eat only one cookie too!). If you have different preference for sauces and vegetables, you can always ask the sandwich master to vary the combination in different halves. Heh. Of course, the main ingredients must stay the same. We’ve had this at least 3 times already and it always makes for a rather satisfying meal – both in terms of calories and cost!

Jasmine: Andrew doesn’t consider a meal to be complete unless there’s some meat in it, so our favourites are Subway Club, Subway Melt and just this week we tried the Meatball Marinara- the meatballs were juicy and surprisingly had enough bite to them.

We like to be adventurous when exploring new eateries, but with Subway, we’ve kinda settled into a comfortable pattern. Our sauces are almost always a duet of Honey Mustard and Chipotle Southwest, while Andrew will go for the peanut cookie and I’ll stick with my beloved white chocolate chip. Well, it’s at least an alternative to Soup Spoon, which Mr Chong pesters me to visit with him on an almost weekly basis 🙂

Fine Lunching at Iggy’s

Jasmine: Andrew and I have been talking about splashing out on a fine dining restaurant, so we finally took the plunge (what’s with all the aquatic metaphors) and went to Iggy’s during the June holidays!

Andrew: Iggy’s is one of the two Singapore restaurants that has made it onto Pelligrino’s list of top 50 restaurants in the world. Lunch was the best time to go as you get to try all their unique cuisine at practically a third of the price of the dinner sets. Of course, the selection is more limited.

IMG_0288

IMG_0286

Amuse Bouche

IMG_0243

Jasmine: Our tomato-themed amuse bouche had tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and strangely enough, tomato jelly. This wasn’t to Andrew’s taste at all as he generally avoids tomatoes if he can help it. Even I who don’t mind tomatoes found the taste of tomato in the jelly rather bizarre as it was a tad acidic.

An amuse bouche differs from an appetizer in that it is offered free of charge to all patrons. It is meant to be a tour de force of the chef’s inventiveness and finesse, albeit in bite-sized portions.

Andrew: One important thing to appreciate in all these top notch restaurants is the aesthetics of the dish. I was ready to be amazed when I saw the petals and tomatoes as I thought, perhaps this will be a tomato dish I like! However, I really didn’t like this dish at all. The sourish taste was way too overpowering, added with the fact that it was cold (there was shaved tomato-flavoured ice? heh) just added an extra sting to the sourness.

IMG_0245 IMG_0246


Andrew: Another thing to note about these restaurants is that their portions are extremely small – as you will notice later. However, Iggy’s more than made up for it with free flow of bread rolls freshly baked in their own oven. They offered a choice of garlic crusted bread or sour-dough bread. The garlic crusted bread was fragrant and crisp. I had 3 pieces of that throughout. The sour-dough bread was softer and went better with their special home-made butter sprinkled with salt (shown below). I loved the butter a lot, but I still felt the butter at Forlinos was more addictive due to its texture.

IMG_0251

Starters

IMG_0248

Tua tua clams with buratta, sago and sudachi

Andrew: Now, this was the dish that really started off the gastronomic adventure that I had looked forward too at Iggy’s. There was an amazing mix of colour, texture and flavours in this dish. The clams were cooked to perfection – they were chewy and burst with umami goodness with every bite. It went perfectly with the sticky texture of the rice below and the light yet subtly sweet melt-in-your-mouth sago below. (Unfortunately, you would notice that dread red thing – a tomato once again! – but I just separated it and didn’t allow it to affect my enjoyment of this dish. Heh)

IMG_0249

Foie gras with creme de cassis and figs

Jasmine: Due to limited budget as an undergrad, foie gras is one of those delicacies that I have only discovered and grown to savour in recent years. In fact, one of the most inspired comments that I came across when researching foie gras geniously described the dish as "meat that wants to be butter". That could most certainly be said of Iggy’s foie gras, which was a lovely rich brown hue. The taste of liver was subdued and every creamy bite melted effortlessly on the tongue. My only beef with it (no pun intended) was that the exterior lacked that delicious hint of crispy fat.

IMG_0252

Andrew: As with all fine dining restaurants, the knives are changed very often, but I’ve never quite seen a special knife provided just for foie gras. You can see how gentle and blunt the “blade” (if you can even call it that?) on this knife is, just enough to cut through the foie gras. (Jasmine: Dear, I think that was the butter knife!)

Mains

IMG_0253

Tortellini with veal cheeks, wild asparagus and turnip

Jasmine: I ordered this dish because I generally gravitate towards stuffed pastas, but perhaps my Pastamania-bred tastebuds were too unrefined to appreciate the nuances of the tortellini. I know veal cheeks are supposed to be milder in flavour and tender than beef cheeks, but they were so mild that I barely registered they were there.

IMG_0256

Spaghettoni with poultry jus, summer truffles and parmesan

Jasmine: This was really quite special. The spaghettoni was supposed to be one of Iggy’s star dishes, and it lived up to its stellar reputation. Though not as aromatic as winter truffles, the inclusion of summer truffles was perfect for June, as the truffles imparted a subtly earthy, musky taste to the pasta.

Andrew: This was special, but I wasn’t quite amazed by it. Yes, the truffle taste was good and the spaghettoni was prepared to just the right texture. But I was expecting a bit more – a burst of exciting, refreshing and new flavours with every bite. Perhaps a lot of craft and ‘food chemistry’ went into this, but the result wasn’t amazing. It didn’t give me the ‘Wow’ that the crab rucola salad at Forlinos did.

IMG_0257

A glimpse of the kitchen where all the gastronomic delights are being prepared

IMG_0258

Change of knives again for the next dish

IMG_0259

A lovely centrepiece for the table – with all the petals and flowers in their dishes, you could almost imagine this being a table snack!

Next dish!

IMG_0261

Wagyu tenderloin with brussel sprouts and asparagus (?)

Andrew: This was very well-prepared wagyu tenderloin, subtly seasoned to bring out the meaty, juicy goodness of a piece of wagyu beef. The vegetables were all seasoned too and I loved the dashes of green throughout the dish, highlighted nicely in this picture.

IMG_0265

IMG_0267

Rack of lamb with green olive tapenade, spaghetti squash and blood lime

Jasmine: Once again, this lamb rack was succulent, juicy and flavorful, though not exceptionally so. To my surprise I found the bed of greens far more appetising. I attribute that to the unconventional and appetite-whetting combination of pulpy, semi-nutty spaghetti squash, and the salty zing of green olive tapenade.

Desserts

IMG_0268

Guinness with salted peanuts, Milo crumble, potato chips, marshmallow

Andrew: When I first saw the description, I thought it’d be an interesting mix of salty and sweet. However, the taste turned out to be rather conventional, even when I tried eating the salty peanuts with the milo crumble in one scoop. Yes, it wasn’t as overpowering or heavy as most chocolate desserts are and once again, there was a good mix of items of different textures, but the result wasn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be.

IMG_0270

Rhubarb with salted sable, vanilla beans and blood orange

Jasmine: Seems like my selection of courses for this entire meal was based on comfort and familarity with foods I relish, such as foie gras and tortellini. In contrast,  I tend to avoid conventional, overly sweet desserts, and favour unexpected pairings.

IMG_0271        IMG_0273

The rhubarb was refreshingly sour, though I thought the colour could have been brighter and redder to match the blood orange (which is one of my fave dessert ingredients because of how its tartness provides the perfect counternote to sugary confections). The vanilla bean ice cream was also note-worthy. It was hardly "plain vanilla" as it was delectable, creamy and smooth.

IMG_0276    IMG_0280

Jasmine: Oh, and our outfits today. My outfit is brought to you by my favourite Korean shop at Far East Plaza, and my macrame necklace was hand-beaded by a very macho-looking, dreadlock-sporting guy at an open-air market in Finland! Andrew’s shirt was bought on sale from one of his go-to brands, P.O.A.

Andrew: All in all, it seemed like Jazzy had a more enjoyable dining or ‘lunching’ experience than Andrew. Heh. In spite of the comments made, I still enjoyed the meal, but I believe we both agreed that while the food was well prepared, it wasn’t as exciting (taste-wise) as we thought it’d be. Will we be back again to try their dinner? Perhaps after we’ve explored the other outstanding/Michelin star restaurants in Singapore.