28 August 2013

L'etoile Cafe

Despite being a Singaporean since birth, I have never ventured into Farrer Park. It doesn't look ulu on the map (being two stops away from Dhoby Ghaut). But somehow there is nothing there for me to venture. Recently I saw an article on nice cafes to hangout, and one of them is L'etoile cafe hidden in Farrer Park along Owen Road. The small but cosy-looking picture of it was tempting enough for me to travel to Farrer Park. It's a two-storey indie cafe along a stretch of shophouses. L'etoile means "star" in French, and it's also the symbol of this cafe.

I was quite pleased when I stepped into L'etoile. The cafe was very bright and made use of full length windows. The use of different types of mismatched furniture made the place very colourful and homely. The designer of L'etoile should deserve some award for making it look so pretty and inviting! There are several corners which you can just laze in with your group of friends or with your significant other. Some of my favorite corners:

#1 - By the window on second floor. I love how the curtains blocked out the harsh sun rays and gave the place a soft focus look. 

#2 - Cosy corner on first floor. 

#3 - Cosy corner on second floor. 

#4 - Interesting art corner which has pieces for sale.

If you look carefully below, this table is actually a sewing machine table. Quite creative to use as a dining table and it gives the place a nostalgic vibe too. One bird kills two stones!

Sad to say, the food was quite forgettable for me. The Matcha Azuki Chiffon Cake ($5.90) was coarse and too dry for my liking. The Chicken Wings ($8) were a bit bland and not flavorful enough, and the portion was quite small for the price. As for the Big Breakfast ($14.90) which was served with toast, potato wedges, mushroom, bacon, sausages, eggs and greens, unfortunately it was more variety than quality. The Strawberry Soda and Ribena Soda ($4.90 each) were nothing to shout about too. Overall: 3/5


In addition, I don't know why but it can be very noisy when everyone speaks at the same time. I suspect it has got to do with the material used for the ceiling or walls which amplifies the sounds made.

To conclude, I guess the main draw of L'etoile would be its chill vibe, vintage and whimsical decor, instead of the food. There were a lot of couples and groups of friends there. L'etoile also has free wifi and some power plug points (not a lot though.. two hidden behind the big sofa on second floor and two near the window). They also have a collection of travel books and magazines which you can read. It's worth a first visit for a lazy weekend although I don't think I will be going back anytime soon.

160 Owen Road
Singapore 218953

27 August 2013

Wimbly Lu Chocolate Cafe

Time of crime: 10 Aug 2013, Saturday 5pm

Crime scene: Wimbly Lu @ Jalan Riang.

The victim: Me, who has lost interest in chocolates for quite a while. I like chocolates but I can live without them, really.

The suspects:
Root Beer Cake ($6, below). It's a very thick and dense chocolate cake. I couldn't taste the root beer on my first bite. But it was there, subtly, as I took my second bite. And then third bite no root beer.. Fourth bite yes. It's like the secret killer that's playing hide and seek with me. With its accomplice, cold and sweet vanilla ice cream, they make a good partnership. 4/5

Waffles with cheesecake ice-cream and chocolate sauce ($8.50, below). Innocent-looking and like a girl/boy next door, a surprise awaited me as I bit into it. The crackling sound of the golden baked skin as my knife cut through it.. I realized that the more I consumed it, the more it devoured me. Extremely crispy on the outside, and soft, delicate and airy on the inside..and that trademark chocolate sauce that drizzled on it.. I'll be dreaming about it in my sleep. It would be the perfect assassin if not for the small blot of cheesecake ice-cream which didn't take my breath away totally. 4.5/5

Molten Lava cake ($6,below). Like a bomb, the impact hit me with just the first mouthful. Served warm, the luscious gooey chocolate sauce was pure intense chocolate concentrate. The ratio of bitterness to sweetness of this chocolate was just nice and perfect for me. However, I had to hunt for water after a few mouthfuls of this as it's quite heavy. Nevertheless, this made me remember why I used to love chocolates. 4/5

Cause of death: A sinful overdose of chocolates, sending the victim to heaven.

The ending: The police came, and he gave summon tickets to the illegal parkers. You have been warned.

Please use valet parking:

Other crime notes:
- Long queue of victims await at 5pm. I waited like 30 min just for 2 seats. Suggest to go during off peak times eg 6.30pm
- please drink lots of water as chocolate is heaty. 

The crime scene pics:
#1 - Cosy corner for big groups

#2 - Cosy corner for couples

#3 - I love the glass ceilings that allowed plenty of light to shine through.. 

#4 - Chocolate is the answer.

#5 - A red beetle parked outside the cafe. I love tortoise cars! There's this game that you need to hit your friend's head when you see a tortoise car. 

This is the place to get the chocolate craving fixed. With chocolate done perfectly, what it needs now is an element of unpredictability (in a favorable way) and new surprises.

15 Jalan Riang
Singapore 358987
Check out their facebook page for latest opening hours: Wimbly Lu Facebook

22 August 2013

Antoinette at Palais Rennaisance

For the dessert and afternoon tea lovers, I'm quite sure Antoinette requires no introduction. The famous cafe was opened by local chef Pang Kok Keong who was formerly the Executive Pastry Chef at Les Amis Group, and he's also the one that conceptualized my favorite dessert place Canele Patisserie.

Antoinette has three other outlets: Lavender Penhas Street, Mandarin Gallery and Scarlet Hotel. I visited the Palai Rennaisance outlet on a Saturday afternoon for some cakes. I am a lover for pretty cakes and garden-like setting so this one really hits me in the centre.

Such a pretty restaurant.. With royal-like cushions and seats, I felt instantly like a princess!

Meet Chantilly ($9, below), one of the cakes in Antoinette's 2013 collection. It is made of passionfruit creme and sweetened vanilla meringue, and a slice of banana hid in the crust. I am a big fan of anything that has fruits so this gets my thumbs up for being sweet and fruity. 4/5

Le Royale ($9, below) is a combination a dark chocolate mousse, almond meringue, hazelnut almond feuilletine, chocolate genoise and dark rum. In layman terms, it's a chocolate and hazelnut cake. This is for the chocolate lover as the chocolate was very rich and dense. The base was a hazelnut almond feuilletine which was akin to thin crispy waffles. Overall, the texture was rich and crispy. It was like eating a chocolate cake and hazelnut waffle biscuit. 4/5

Tip : I was struggling whether or not to share this new secret.. This place was quite empty during a Saturday afternoon. Considering the whole of Singapore was in Orchard on a weekend, I think this is a great place to escape the crazy crowds for a nice afternoon tea. 

Can't wait to go back to try more desserts.
Officially tagged this in "My Faves" too!

390 Orchard Road
Palai Renaissance 
Singapore 238871

Opening hours: check website for latest info

19 August 2013

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons @ Bugis Village

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons Ramen, located at Bugis Village, is one of the four ramen joints opened by Chef Keisuke Takeda, the 2011 Tokyo Ramen Champion. It's located at one of the shophouse unit located at Bugis Village along Rochor Road, also same stretch as McDonald's and KFC.

I went there during the off peak hour 3pm plus on a Sunday. The restaurant only had three other group of customers. Hence, I could get a seat immediately. Nevertheless if you need to wait, Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King also offers some ice barley tea while you wait outside the restaurant. So thoughtful!

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King was so elaborately decorated. I like the spring flowers hanging.. My mum would approve this place immediately (and at the same time ask me to bring her on Japan trip).

The theme of the restaurant is in its name, four seasons. So there were 4 different ramens: 
- Spring (with basil and Parmesan)
- Summer (spicy)
- Autumn (mushroom and bonito flavor)
- Winter (original pork broth)
- and one additional ramen that is the king of them, named King (with sliced pork ginger)

Quite a smart marketing strategy .. so that the customer can come back to try all the flavors. As you can see from the picture above, their No. 1 is King, followed by Summer and Autumn. 

How to order? We were given this slip of paper which we tick against which ramen we want, topping, and down to the taste of the soup, chicken oil and noodle texture. The "all topping" contains seaweed, flavored egg and ginger. For the Step 3, I ticked all normal. However I was wondering why someone tick "no pork chasyu"? They can give me their Chasyu.. yumms..

While we were waiting, we chomped on some beanspouts provided as a side dish. The beanspouts were crunchy and marinated with a sauce. My friend who is a lover of beanspouts claimed it's the nicest beanspouts ever. To prove that, the picture below shows how we finished half a bottle of the beanspouts. 4.5/5

Not sure if it was because we went during the off-peak timing, our Ramens came very fast... My King Ramen ($16.90, below) which I topped with soft boiled eggs and seaweed for $3, really made me felt like a king instantly. The pork slices were damn nice, thinly sliced and savory. Despite the description being pork slices with ginger, the ginger taste was subtle which was good because it would be weird if the ginger taste was overwhelming. The eggs were sweet, runny and melts in the mouth. Noodles were chewy.. and the most important was the soup base.. an instant umamni kick.. the soup is thicker than normal soup which was due to the pork bones being boiled for 11 hours instead of the normal 8 hours. Does that translate to more collagen? Because I felt my complexion was better the following day. 4.5/5

The Summer Ramen ($15.90, below), which we topped with eggs of $2, was also equally good as the King Ramen.. The soup base was rich and full of umami taste.. The chilli is made of three types of chilli: Japanese Chilli, Szechuan Pepper and Cayenne Pepper. Sounds lethal.. the soup was spicy but we can still handle it. 4.5/5

And we found this on the drinks menu.. and we just had to try it! Green Tea Cola ($3.80, below).

The green tea cola was very addictive.. Sweet, fizzy and refreshing.. Hmmm tastes like drinking Coke + 7 up + sweet lemonade? However, we could not taste the green tea though the content label stated green tea is included. Nevertheless, a very special drink and a must try! I forgot to ask them if they sell it as takeaway because I would definitely stocked them in cartons in my fridge. 4.5/5 

Also this place allows you to have the Kaedama option.. whereby you can ask for additional noodles if you are still hungry.. The Kaedama option costs $2.

Tip: There is an ongoing promotion whereby you can join as Keisuke member and get 7% discount on the spot. 

Overall, I am happy that I found a new favorite place to get my ramen fix.. This is a Must Try :)

158 Rochor Road
Bugis Village

Tagged this in "My Faves" too!

16 August 2013

Gourmet Plus

Yay this is my first Openrice food tasting session! It's at Gourmet Plus which is situated in the charming Siglap neighbourhood. I was really looking forward to it because Gourmet Plus offers a mixture of Spanish, Italian and French food. So I'll get to try different types of European food at one go. Quoting the host, they are not fusion, but merely confused :)

I was really lucky to be able to sample their 10 course menu that they have specially prepared for this event.. I was even more full of anticipation when I saw that there were two desserts.. It was going to be a feast :P

Nevertheless, may I start with Gilda on Shot Gazpacho ($10 for two shots, below)? This is an appetizer served in a shot glass. Kudos for being creative! Step 1: Please dip the skewer of marinated olive, chilli, antxoas & baby onions into the gazpacho soup. Step 2: Sip a little of the refreshing gazpacho soup that is made of cold tomato . Step 3: Eat each piece of the vegetable on the skewer. The overall result is a lingering spiciness and sourness on the tastebuds, a refreshing starter to our 10-course dinner.

The Haloumi & Green Olive Salad ($18, below) had grilled haloumi cheese tossed with olive, rocket & frisee, Japanese cucumber, pine nuts, red onion in a light mustard dressing. This is my first time eating Haloumi cheese, a Greek cheese, and I loved it. The cheese was pan-fried, slightly salted, texture was like toasted scallop but a bit harder. An interesting dish.

Pulpo ala Gallega ($16, below), is a pretty stack of boiled octopus in between slices of potato, topped with fish roe. Quite a creative combination as the octopus was chewy while the potatoes were soft so there was variation in texture. 

The next dish may look like a kitchen disaster, but never judge a book by its cover. Although the Squid Ink Coated Calamari el Bulli with Aioli ($16, below) doesn't look appetizing, my appetite was aroused by the garlic fragrance of this dish when it was served. The calamari was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Must eat with the smooth Aioli sauce. An addictive dish that I couldn't stop going for.

We are going Spanish now.. Coca Iberico Jamon Lomo & Rocket ($28, below), uses Spanish ham which is from the loin and hence it is more tender than the normal ham. Coupled with the melted cheese and golden baked pizza crust, the result was a robust taste that exploded in the mouth. 

The roasted Corn-fed Chicken ($30, below), was very tender, and the taste was enhanced when the chicken was drizzled with the essence of chicken demi that accompanied it. Together with the shiitake mushroom, roasted potatoes, and kitchen vegetables, this makes a hearty French dish.

Back to Spanish.. the Rabo de toro ($28, below). Spicy spanish oxtail stew, braised for 6 hours, and the result was ultra soft oxtail which tasted both gamey and tender. Eaten with the toasted bread provided. 

Just when I thought it doesn't get any better than this, we were introduced the Crispy Wagyu Beef Cheek ($35, below). Pan-seared melt-in-your-mouth beef cheeks on mashed potatoes, US asparagus, to be smeared with the red wine shallot gravy. The knife effortlessly cut through the reddish meat, evidential that it was well-braised for hours. How do they make it crispy on the outside and soft on the inside? They only fry the beef cheeks when it is ready to be served. And the mashed potatoes was also a scene stealer with its subtle cheese flavor. 

'Desserts' is 'stressed' spelled backwards. So let's have desserts to destress from the long week. Meet Bermuda Triangle of Chocolate ($15, below). The delightful trio is made up of: (i) chocolate lava cake, (ii) Nutella parfait & berries and, (iii) white chocolate panna cotta.. Personal favorite would be the cold sweet Nutella parfait balanced by the sweet and sour berries. Simple yet good.

Since they say there is always a separate stomach for desserts, one dessert would not suffice to end this feast. Our second dessert Nutty Chocolate Peppermint Ravioli ($14, below) - coated with sugar bread crumbs, molasses amaretto (a type of sweet Italian liqueur) and coconut waffle was nutty and slightly mint flavored.. A very unique dessert.

This cosy restaurant has been around since 2004.. so that means they must be doing it right. There's an alfresco area which has a romantic ambience. The place can serve up to 75 persons.. hmmm sounds like a good place to hold functions/gatherings. They have an extensive wine list too. For an inspiring dinner experience and high quality Western cuisine in the East, do visit Gourmet Place for a weekend meal.

Personal faves : Haloumi & green Olive Salad, Squid Ink Coated Calamari el Bulli with Ioli, Coca Iberico Jamon Lomo & Rocket, Crispy Wagyu Beef cheeks

Many thanks to Openrice and Gourmet Plus for the kind hospitality and making me feel like a royal during this great tasting session!

117 Frankel Avenue
Singapore 458232

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