Friday, October 30, 2009

TWG tea salon @ ION


With a shop space of 1,800-square foot at a prime spot of ION, the colour theme of this branch is alittle different from its flagship. Though it retains the use of crystal chandeliers and warm timber cupboards, this place focus on the use of gold trimmings and glass panels. Encased by a wall of curved glass, the elegance this place provides fits perfectly among the designer labels found in ION.

Dining area I

Retail space is bigger than the branch at Republic Plaza and one of the highlights of this outlet lies in the revolving cabinet to hold the tea cannisters. Apart from housing 400 types of tea leaves (i.e. Republic Plaza manages 200 types), one will find a selection of tea samovars and accessories before reaching the dining area.

Dining area II

With a more convenient location and longer opening hours, one can expect crazy crowds between 11am to 6pm daily. Due to the crowd, this branch lacks the cosiness, particularly when the tables are placed very close to each other. However, with a proper kitchen in this branch, the menu offers is more extensive with breakfast, brunch and dinner are served.

Enjoying Muffin, Financier and Scone with Bain de Rose Tea

Tea and pastisseries are the must-tries and this time round, I have opted for a muffin, financier (Matcha-infused) and scone. Though the muffin didn't leave a deep impression, I have to admit that I enjoyed the financier and scone (served with whipped cream and jam).

Bain de Rose Tea ($13.50++), an exclusive blend of first flush Deejarling, also the tea used in their pink macarons, was a recommendation for rose tea lovers. This exquisite rose tea, is known to contain only the best blooms from Grasse, a region in France famous for its perfume industry. Though we are not black tea lovers, we do appreciate the rose scent emitted from the tea.

Mango Tart

This refreshing mango mousse and a thin layer of tangy orange puree on a green tea base stands out among our orders. Generally TWG's desserts are light and nicely-infused with tea. Most importantly, these pastries are not excessively sweet. The entire combination is light, making me crave for more.

Double Happiness

At TWG tea salon, each tea is carefully steeped depending on the type, thus one will not see tea leaves in the teapot. However, the flower teas offered at TWG is refillable. Double Happiness ($14.00++) was recommended and is a combination of white tea, jasmine and pink amaranth. In terms of taste and fragrance, this is relatively mild when compared to Pi Lo Chun Imperial (碧螺春) I had the last time round.

Before signing off, many thanks for the sms notification sent by TWG managing director, Mr. Aum-Stievenard to inform us on the opening of TWG @ ION on 30th Sept 09 and the complementary pastries for the afternoon.

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique
ION Shopping Mall
2 Orchard Turn #02-21,
Singapore 238801
Tel: 6735 1837

Operating hours 10am to 10pm (Mon to Sun)
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lunch @ Equinox Restaurant

Equinox @ Swissotel

From the days of Compass Rose, I have always wanted to visit this place. Now that Compass Rose is no longer around, Equinox Complex, a group of eateries took over, at the tallest hotel in Singapore.

Dining with altitude

With full length glass windows, Equinox rewards its diners with a bird's-eye view of the beautiful skyline of Singapore's Central Business District.

With a stunning, panoramic floor-to-ceiling views of Singapore and its interior decorated with teak, paper lanterns and wooden trellises, one can expect a nice blend of Asian and contemporary dining atmosphere.

Lunch is available in the form of a semi-buffet from Monday to Saturday. At $59++, one gets to choose a main course and supplement with a buffet bar. Here is a preview of what is offered at the buffet bar.


Among the buffets we have been so far, I have to admit that the selection of cheese offered at Equinox is one of the largest.


The appetizers offered includes Thai Style Seafood Salad, Tomato with Mozzarella Cheese, Beetroot Salad, Prawn Cocktail, Unagi Temaki, Char Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Dressing, German Potato Salad and Salmon Platters.

Petite appetizers

New Zealand Oysters

Selection of fresh seafood is also impressive. Though there is no crayfish nor lobsters, Fresh Shrimp, Sri Lankan Crabs, Fresh Water Prawns, Pristine Oysters, Green Mussels and New Zealand Oysters will sound tempting to most. However, having ate oysters in a few buffet venue lately, it seems that the oysters offered at Cafe Biz is the largest by far.

Sushi and Sashimi

The above photos covers about 40% of the buffet section. Though the selection may seems limited to some, do bear in mind that we still have the a-la-carte main course.

Char Grilled Beef Onglet with Sauteed Idaho Potatoes, Caramelized Red Onions and Cafe de Paris Butter
Char Grilled Beef Onglet with Sauteed Idaho Potatoes, Caramelized Red Onions and Cafe de Paris Butter

Steamed Seabass with Superior Chinese Herbs, Asian Vegetables and Shitake Mushrooms
Steamed Seabass with Superior Chinese Herbs, Asian Vegetables and Shitake Mushrooms

The 2 main courses which we tried were the Beef Onglet and the Seabass.
Although I have requested the beef to be served medium well, the meat is not tough at all. The meat was served with char-grilled fragrance and a juicy core. The accompanying potato is lightly salted with a baked skin that compliments perfectly with the meat.

With the use of soy sauce, wolfberry and chinese parsley, the seabass which Fen had, tasted close to a Cantonese steamed fish. The fish is served hot, tender and fresh so Fen has no complain with her choice of main course.

Berry Mousse and Rose Bavarian Mousse

Depending on one's preference, the selection of desserts may be extensive to some but limited to others. Equinox's dessert bar focus lesser on chocolate with selection ranging from Blueberry or Pear crumble, Financier, Berry Mousse, Rose Bavarian Mousse, Soft chocolate Cake with Dry Fruit and Nuts, Peach Tart, Cheesecake and Brownies.

Dessert shooters

Apart from the cakes, shooter desserts such as Pineapple Compote, Lychee Jus, Apricot with Cream Cheese and Mix Berry Vodka Jus are available for that afternoon.

Lastly, at the other end of the dessert bar, one will be rewarded with chocolate fondue (includes dark, milk and white) and home-made mango sorbet, raspberry sorbet and chocolate ice-cream. Since Movenpick sponsors a fridge for the restaurant, one can expect a flavour or 2 from Movenpick's selection of ice-cream.

Some may find the desserts not cold enough to their liking but when it comes to taste, we were indeed impressed by most of their desserts, particularly the Rose Bavarian Mousse and Pineapple Compote. Rose Bavarian Mousse is light, refreshing and brings out a strong scent of Rose while Pineapple Compote is a good variant to the apple crumble. Butter cookie crumble with vanilla mousse served with a slight sourish pineapple puree.

Chef Hugh Styles with the PacoJet

We were honoured by the opportunity to visit the kitchen whereby Chef Hugh Styles explained to us how to differentiate between home-made and commercial ice creams; and also the effects of emulsifiers on ice-cream. He introduced the PacoJet which does its mixing at 5000 rpm in vacuum. A frozen block of Avocado Cream becomes so velvetly smooth within minutes, leaving us impressed at the end of the demonstration.

The view Equinox offers

Overall it was a excellent experience dining at Equinox. I am looking forward to my second visit.

Just our opinion, if you derive satisfaction from variety in a buffet, we will not recommend Equinox but suggest Melt, The World Cafe or the Line.

However for us, it has come to a point that we don't try everything on the buffet bar and we felt that this is one of our favourite place for hotel buffets, considering there were a few dishes that make us go back for more.

$59++ may sound expensive but do keep in mind that some hotels priced their lunch buffets above $40++ but without the ambience and view this place gets to offer (E.g. Weekday Buffet Lunch @ Melt, The World Cafe - $54++, The Line - $45++, Bar & Billiard Room - $58++, Carousel - $40++, Marriott Cafe - $44++).

For a detailed menu of what Equinox gets to offer, they are available here.

Lastly, many thanks to Herni for helping us to seek approval from the Equinox management to take the photos and we greatly appreciate the warm hospitality and demonstration given by Chef Hugh Styles.

Buffet Lunch Menu with A la Carte Main Course
$59++ (Adults), $29.50++ (6-12 years)
20% discount for Citibank Platinum Card Holders
15% discount for American Express Card Holders.

Equinox Restaurant
Equinox Complex Singapore
2 Stamford Road
70F Swissôtel The Stamford
Singapore 178882
Tel: 6837 3322
Website for Equinox Complex

Lunch Buffet noon to 2:30pm (Monday to Saturday)
Brunch 11am to 2:30pm (on Sundays)
Hi-Tea Buffet 3:30pm to 5pm (Daily)
Dinner 6:30pm to 11pm (Daily)
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Monday, October 19, 2009

BBQ, what's on the menu?

Organizing a bbq is never an easy task and apart from getting everybody together, planning the menu can be quite a chore.

Particularly when budget is a major concern and fellow diners having food restrictions (no pork, no beef and no whatsoever meat), chicken becomes the main ingredient for almost all the dishes. The thought of sausages, satays and chicken wings just sound so boring.

Some years ago, a search on google led me to a couple of barbeque recipes and one of them is chicken kebabs (A pack of chicken thigh or chicken fillet is about $5.20, enough for 20 sticks). In order to retain the juice in the meat, I have rolled up thin slices of chicken thigh and that the chicken is marinated with garlic, lemon, dried mixed herbs. With some slices of capcicums, onions, pineapple and bacon-rolled asparagus, this dish is a good appetizers and well-liked by most.

Apart from the regular marination, the combination of capcicums and onions goes very well with tandoori-styled chicken fillet.

Satays are easily available at City Satay ($16 for 50 sticks) along Tanjong Katong Road and are sold in pack of 50 sticks.

Chicken kebabs and Satays

I have tried bbq-ing stingray and mackerel wrapped in aluminium foil but I never expect myself to experience bbq-ing a whole Red Snapper (Each fish costs about $10.25 each at Carrefour). Marination is kept simple with ginger, salt, pepper and lemon garlic. With this foldable grill, grilling a whole fish is so much easier. With constant brushing of oil and occasional flipping of the fish, one will be surprised by the tenderness its meat can be.

Red snapper

Frozen lamb shoulder chuck (promotional price, about $30 for 1.5kg) can be considered and the staff at Giant can slice them into pieces with a thickness of 1/2 inch. Seasoned with dried Rosemary and Parsley, and grilled over charcoal flame, one can expect the overall effect to be pretty good.

Ribeye steak ($32.10 per kg was the promotional price and each piece is averagely $8) was on offer during our visit to Carrefour and these 3/4 inch thick steak requires stronger and good charcoal embers. These steaks are easy to handle as it can be marinated on the spot with lemon garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. A pair of kitchen scissors makes eating more convenient when cut into small pieces.

Ribeye Steak

For some selection of vegetables, grilled swiss brown mushrooms (a box of approximately 8 to 10 pieces will cost $3.50 at Carrefour) is one of the tastier choice. Just leave the fungi on the grill and these can be served after observing some fluid being accumulated on the mushroom caps.

BBq-ing Swiss Brown

Apart from the mentioned dishes, we have gotten pre-marinated pork ribs ($14 for 2 slabs, vaccum packed and sold frozen) from Wang Foong Foodstuffs Suppliers Pte Ltd (at 48 Woodlands Terrace, Tel: 67594388). This is the same pork ribs available at Cold Storage but at a cheaper price. As these ribs have been grilled in the oven at home, these ribs just needs to be warmed up over the charcoal embers.

Pork Ribs and Satays

Hopefully, this post is useful for bbq-menu planners.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ju Shin Jung

Ju Shin Jung

Speaking of Korean BBQ, when asking for recommendation from students (of my time), it will be Seoul Garden while the adults will suggest a BBQ restaurant opposite Haw Par Villa or along East Coast Park.

Assorted side dishes

Being not a fan of Kimchi, I am not familiar with Korean cuisine, thus my experience towards Korean restaurants is limited to Su Korean Cuisine @ Far East Plaza and Koryo Restaurant @ Fusionopolis (Connexis Tower). In any case, they have the tendency to flood the entire table with side dishes and I have to admit that it took me a few visits before I start to learn how to appreciate the taste of it.

Kimchi Pancake
김치전 (Kimchijun)
Kimchi Pancake ($20.00++)
(A-la-carte order, not included in buffet)

My love towards Korean Pancake starts after lunching with my colleagues at Koryo Restaurant. Due to the high content of flour, this starchy pancake seems to resemble alittle to hawker-styled white carrot cake. The addition of kimchi to this dish makes it flavourful and the slight sourishness makes it a nice appetizer. Having tried both kimchi pancake from Ju Shin Jung and Koryo Restaurant, my preference is inclined towards the one served in Ju Shin Jung. The strong kimchi and slight sourishness makes it more than just flour in my opinion.

Black Angus Sirloin I

This thick slab of beef has the essence of the charcoal flame and having seared nicely on the exterior, the juice is locked within the meat. No doubt, the most sought-after dish for the night.

Black Angus Sirloin II
생등심 (Deungsim)
Black Angus Sirloin, 160g ($49.00++)
(A-la-carte order, not included in buffet)

Ordering a-la-carte at this place is not a cheap affair and having to feed two hungry boys, we opted for the buffet dinner. Do note that 6 dishes (Fried Saba Fish, Clear Beef Rib Soup, Hot Stone Bowl Rice, Soya Bean Soup, Spicy Tofu Soup and Spicy Cold Noodle) are included in the buffet but each pax is only allowed one dish.

Saba is nice and tender with a crispy skin but I thought this dish is pretty reproducible so nothing to rave about.

Fried Saba Fish
고등어 (Jaban)
Fried Saba Fish

This is one of the recommended dishes and I have to admit that the soup is rich with essence of the beef. Not too oily and the meat is tender and flake off the bone easily. Since we ordered only 1 portion, the serving shown in the picture is just one quarter.

Clear Beef Rib Soup
갈비탕 (Galbitang)
Clear Beef Rib Soup

BiBimBap is a must-have, given Yuan's liking towards this dish. Our personal take towards this dish is that if one pays more than 10 bucks in a proper restaurant, the quality or taste is about the same. Something nice to accompany our BBQ meat.

Hot Stone Bowl Rice
돌솥비빔밥 (Dolsot)
Hot Stone Bowl Rice

I have to admit that the waiters are attentive to our eating pace. The waiter makes it a point to cook one or at most two types of meat at a time, thereby allowing us some time to finish them before cooking the next batch of meat. Also, the grill is changed after BBQ-ing each meat to ensure that the charred remains from previous cooking will not contaminate the next round of BBQ-ing.

The tenderness of the meat depends alot on which waiter is serving and so far, all the meat cooked for that night is acceptable and not overly tough. My only complain for this place is that the place is expensive, particularly if the order is a-la-carte. Also, having seated at close proximity near the BBQ area, one can expect to smell like a piece of BBQ meat at the end of the meal.

Surprisingly despite chalking up a bill of $240 for 4 pax, this place did tempt Yuan to drop by again within the same week.

Unlimited BBQ

Anyway, the Unlimited BBQ includes only 4 types of meat for charcoal grill, namely Pork Collar, Pork Belly, Marinated Pork and Marinated Chicken.

Unlimited BBQ
Lunch - $29++ (Adult), $16++ (Child)
Dinner (Monday to Thursday only) - $35++ (Adult), $19++ (Child)
Dinner Unlimited BBQ is not available on Public Holiday Eve and Public Holiday

Ju Shin Jung, West
Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant
27 West Coast Highway
Yess Centre 1F
Singapore 117867
Tel: 6464 0872

Operating hours -
Open everyday except Monday Lunch
noon to 2:30pm (Lunch)
6pm to 11pm (Dinner)
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tomo Izakaya, Clarke Quay

If one has been watching Baby Bonus, 添丁发财 (currently airing on Mediacorp TV, Channel 8, 9pm on Weekdays), one will notice the "ramen "shop" Jessica Liu supposedly owned in the drama. Well, that is none other Tomo Izakaya @ Clarke Quay.

Tomo Izakaya I

I have never been to Japan but this place seems to provide an authentic atmosphere. The wooden furnishing and the decoration this place has put up offers a laid back feel and I simply adore the idea of having to dine with traditional floor seating (with a convenient cutout for your legs).

Tomo Izakaya II

Since izakaya (居酒屋) refers to a Japanese pub, the menu consists of a reasonable selection of drinks and classic Japanese small dish specialties but don't expect much variety of dons or ramen.

Tomo Izakaya III

I am no expert when it comes to savoury food. To me, what matters the most is the company and overall experience where pricing, service and ambience are factored in. For its salmon sashimi, it is nicely cut and I would say the freshness is up to my expectation.

Salmon Sashimi
サーモン Salmon Sashimi ($18.00++)

One of my critera for good sushi is the texture of the rice and though the rice is not hard nor grainy, its standard is pretty similar to what one will get from Sushi Tei and Ministry of Food.

California maki
カリフォルニア巻き California maki ($10.00++)
Avocado with crab stick & cucumber roll wrap with flying fish roe roll

Soft shell crab maki
ソフトシェルクラブ巻き Soft shell crab maki ($10.00++)
Fried soft shell crab with cucumber roll wrap with flying fish roe roll

I have to admit that the Saikoro steak is one of my favourite dishes among the entire selection with its meat well-marinated and tender. Pretty close to beef cubes fried in teppanyaki style.

Saikoro steak
サイコロステーキ Saikoro steak ($18.00++)
Dice cut beef with sweet sauce

The pork patty is on the thin side, though nicely breaded and fried without being too oily, the meat lacks the tenderness which Tampopo's Black Pig Tonkatsu gets to offer. So, this is not recommended in my opinion.

Kurobuta oroshi tonkatsu
Atsugiri tonkatsu ($12.00++)
Deep fried pork cutlet

At the end of the day after penning down my thoughts for this place, I realize the food is pretty ordinary and fails to leave a deep impression. Thus one can roughly expect my comments for the Tsukune. It didn't strike me deep enough and my vague impression tells me that the chicken balls from ToriQ satisfy me just as much.

つくね Tsukune ($5.00++)
Minced chicken meat ball with sweet soy sauce

As described by the Japanese staff, this is a very raw dish consisting of a raw egg and raw vegetables. When mixed, it has an extreme sticky texture which either one likes or hates it. For the locals, try this if only you are curious or adventurous.

Otosan Ganbatte Gohan ($14.00++)
Otosan Gambatte Don ($14.00++)

The porridge which I had a couple of weeks ago during the Nagoya special at Oscars leave a very deep impression and spurred me to order the Ochazuke, I am not sure if this is the right equivalence but the taste is pretty blend.


And having deprived from eating cakes for more than 3 weeks (due to the mooncake spree), I thought I shouldn't miss out the desserts Tomo Izakaya gets to offer. Pretty disappointing as the green tea is not strong and the cake was served frozen.

Jikasei maccha tiramisu
Maccha tiramisu ($8.00++)

Home made green tea tiramisu

As I have concluded in the earlier part of the post, this place didn't make me crave for Japanese food but what I enjoyed the most of this meal is the company of a close friend. With the laughter and conversation shared during the dinner, I guessed I have fulfilled my orginal intention of this place. Nice place to chill out, service was good and the most important thing is that we are happy with the ambience this place gets to offer even though we felt that the food is alittle expensive for its taste.

Tomo Izakaya
3A River Valley Road
#01-04 Clarke Quay
Singapore 179020
Tel: 6333 0100

Operating hours -
11:30am to 1am (Sun to Thurs)
11:30am to 3am (Fri and Sat)
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Straits Cafe @ Rendezvous Hotel

My last visit to Straits Café was in 2005 and that was before its major transformation in Oct 2008. I have to admit that this recent visit to Straits Café was better than my last visit, be it the quality of food served and the ambience.

Straits Cafe @ Rendezvous

The place is much spacious and brighter, providing ample space for people to move around. With the glass panels framing half the restaurant, it provides ample lighting and allows a view of street life along Bras Basah Road with SMU as the background.

Dining area

The design of the restaurant adopts a very open concept, allowing people to see the hotel chefs at work and the sight of hot piping dishes been churned out does send my salivary glands working.

Chefs @ work

Cold seafood station is always the highlight for buffet dinner and one will not be disappointed with the spread of fresh oyster, snow crabs, scallops, and poached tiger prawns.

Oysters and Snow crabs

The appetizers and greens offered at the dinner buffet is pretty extensive and one can enjoy a wide variety of salads such as mixed green, seafood, caesar and asparagus. Smoked Fish Platter and even Korean Kim Chee are available to suit individual's preference.


In most buffets, Japanese section is one that screams attention but Straits cafe presents a humble spread with Soba Sauce, Chilled Japanese Noodle and Sashimi.

Japanese Noodle & Cold Soba

With refrigeration of the sashimi, the sashimi is fresh but the salmon is of a lower grade when compared to higher end buffets. How good are the sashimi depends on how picky one taste buds is to lay the verdict.

Salmon and Tako Sashimi

The highlights of the buffet would be the local favourites and Peranakan-styled cuisines. Local favourites such as satay and grilled seafood steal the show for the night. To enjoy Singapore delights at hotel comfort is something which not most hotel buffets gets to offer.

Satay & Grilled seafood

For seafood lovers, Straits Cafe is creative to presents seafood in different cooking style, from chilled on ice to grilled seafood. The extensive hot savoury delights will not disappoint further as it includes Stir Fry Jumbo Prawn in Classic XO Sauce, tender Steamed Seabass Fillet, succulent Deep-fried Squid with Oatmeal and Curry Leaves and tasty Baked Whole Sting Ray with Sambal Chili. Non-seafood lovers will be pleased with the rest of the selection which includes Char Grilled Lamb Cutlet, Beef Stew, Stewed Pork Belly with Sliced Yam, Sayor Lodeh and Ayam Pangang.

My only complain would be the lack of rice or noodle dishes to even out the amount of meat offered at this buffet.

Hot savoury section

Award winning laksa, also the hotel's signature, is one dish that is most commonly mentioned in blogs and forums. However, we thought that the taste was ordinary as it has neither the hay bee hiam, cockles nor coconut richness. On the other hand, I thought the mee soto steal the show for this live section for its richness in chicken stock and rempah.

Signature Laksa & Mee Soto

Though there is no chocolate fondue nor chocolate mousse, durian pengat and durian cake are the signature items of Rendezvous. The durian pengat is rich with durian pulp but we personally preferred Goodwood Park's durian pudding. Somehow or rather the replacement of coconut milk with milk makes the taste lighter and more addictive.

The durian cake has alternating soft vanilla sponge, durian cream and a kueh like layer which resembles durian dodol. The entire combination is unique from the conventional durian mousse cake but this "king of fruits" may not appeal to the non-durian lovers but not to worry, the extensive dessert spread ensures there is something for everybody.

Signature Durian specialities

The spread offered by Straits Cafe is slightly different from a regular International buffet. Instead of focusing on Japanese cuisine and European dishes, Straits Cafe presents a wide array of seafood and local feast.

Many thanks to Marketing Communications Manager of Rendezvous Hotel, Ms. Christina Tan for the invitation to try out the buffet dinner and the warm hospitality given by F&B Operations Manager, Mr. Terrence Lam and the staff at the Straits Cafe. Lastly many thanks to Rendezvous Hotel for the complimentry meal.

Buffet Lunch (noon to 2:30pm)
$35++ (Mon to Sun)

Buffet Dinner (6:30pm to 10pm)
$42++ (Mon to Thurs)
$45++ (Fri to Sun, Eve of PH and PH)

High Tea (3pm to 5:30pm)

Children aged 10 and below pay 50% adult price.

For the buffet dinner, there is currently 20% discount for UOB card holders and 15% discount for OCBC card holders at all time. For DBS card holders, there is a 3 for the price of 2 promotion but this is not available for Friday and Saturday buffet dinner.

Straits Café
Rendezvous Hotel Singapore
9 Bras Basah Road
1F Rendezvous Hotel
Singapore 189559

Tel: 6336 0220
Website for dining @ Rendezvous
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