21 May 2015

The Weekend Eating Guide to Bugis

Bugis. A place that is eastern yet central, crowded yet lively, mainstream yet diverse.

It’s unlikely to make it to the list of most charming places in Singapore.  Yet I keep coming back. And before I could say, “there’s nothing to do”, I end up questioning myself “where did the time go?"

I guess it’s a one stop solution for a lot of things. I could be shopping in air-conditioned Bugis Junction, or sweating out for cheap buys at the Bugis Street market. I could be chilling out with a book at the National Library, or chilling out with a buddy in a café in Haji Lane.  And after that, get zen and pray at the Kuan Yin temple.

When it comes to food in Bugis, eggs benedict and its relatives rule. But if you ask me, the sky’s the limit when it comes to eating in Bugis. This is a place where you can find anything. And have seven meals a day. Like a Hobbit does. So keep your weighing scales at home. Live up to the mantra “Eat, Drink & Be Merry”.

Because I am nice, I have come up with a list of the best places that I’ve eaten in Bugis so as to keep your stomach full and happy round the clock.

Try starting the day with one of the “try”s – Artistry (full story) or Symmetry (full story). If you are at Artistry, go for the Peanut Butter Jelly that comes with ice-cream. Because sinful = Xin Fu (blessed in Chinese).  If you are at Symmetry, you would not want to miss possibly one of the best eggs benedict in Singapore.

If sitting in a hipster café feeling atas (expensive in Malay) on a Saturday morning is not the thing for you, try Dong Po Colonial Café (full story) which is a blast from the past with its 60s’ style cream cakes, kaya butter toasts, and kopi-o, complete with colonial shophouse nostalgia. Alternatively, Blanco Court Prawn Mee (full story) will wake those taste buds up with its punchy and umami-filled soup that’s like none other.


For the hawker foodie, head to Albert Market and its vicinity. Guan Kee Carrot Cake serves carrot cake that’s so soft that even my Ah Gong can eat.  Located just a short sprint from Albert Market, Choo Chiang Roasted Delights will sure delight you with its barbeque Cantonese delights such as roast duck or sesame chicken noodle.

If you find yourself on the other side of Bugis (Liang Seah Street/Tan Quee Lan), you will just do good with the well-braised duck from Yu Kee Duck Rice

For the ultimate Singaporean lunch, try HarriAnn’s curry chicken that’s cooked in robust, thick grainy curry rempah and coconut milk. Or the laksa that has the same thick grainy rempah with coconut milk.

If you are craving for some ramen, get into a bowl of collagen-filled King Ramen at Keisuke Ramen Four Seasons (full story) which is ramen at its best.  Menya Musashi serves flavourful ramen that is coated in a thickened broth which I suspect contains fish stock.

For fried chicken lovers, Bugis is a heaven. The revolutionary Korean fried chicken is my favourite version. Either Bon Chon (full story) or Choo Choo Chicken (full story) would not disappoint with their glistening juicy double-fried chicken. However, I Love Tai Mei (full story) is not about to let them dominate the fried chicken industry in Bugis. Take note of its juicy tender Selina BBQ chicken and tofu fries.

After-lunch snack

Bite into a Japanese fish-shaped pancake Tai Parfait. You get to choose the topping (I recommend the vanilla icecream) and the custard filling in the chewy pancake (matcha is great).

Or meet the love of my life - chocolate ice-cream lava cake at Chocolate Origin (full love letter). Yes it's chocolate. But it's a small cup of chocolate.

Afternoon Tea

Take a walk in Kampong Glam and everyone and his dog will try to sell you coffee. If form is more important than substance for you, try La Marelle (full story) which is cuter than a Korean girl band. But I suggest you order only the cakes. Shop Wonderland, which is usually unwittingly mistaken as a florist shop, is another pretty café to hang out and ponder if the flowers in the shop can also be eaten.   As café-hopping is a Singapore weekend hobby, there’s a chance that you might not even get through the doors of these cafes. Fret not as Elffin & Elffin along Haji Lane is a good backup plan with its minimalist approach to ambience.

For the non-hipsters, go to Blackball at Bugis+. Get the iced Signature which comes with the grass jelly that looks like it is smoother than Fann Wong’s face. For a really good Chinese dessert, Dessert Station (full story) at Albert Market is a good bet. It’s another stall that is always busy.  Go for the Cheng Teng which is full of yummy ingredients and has the perfect level of sweetness.


Dinner choices are never lacking in Bugis. If you are going to splurge and is in an adventure-seeking mood, go to Nox Dine in the Dark (full story) which will guarantee an eye-opening experience.

For a high quality Thai cuisine, visit Sawadee Thai (full story). The duck curry, which is specially concocted with lychees and pineapples, is a must try. Its mango sticky rice and red ruby will make you feel like you are in Bangkok. 

Fish for high quality fish at Chong Qing grilled fish (full story). My personal preference is the black bean sauce fish. For those who can eat spicy food without a water hose on the standby, try their signature ma la fish, which literally translates to numbing and spicy fish. #DunSayBoWarn

Gastrosmiths is easily the most favourite, although the price is not the most favourite. It has one of the best seafood marinara I’ve ever had. So good that I am determined to learn to make one that is better than that.  

A for Arbite (full story), also the restaurant that makes me relearn my alphabet, has interesting dishes such as salted egg yolk fries. Remember to use The Entertainer app at this restaurant. #DunSayBoJio


Desserts First (full story). The durian snow ice or mango snow ice take the prize and other versions would need to apologise for their existence. 

For those whose habitually prefer to end up wondering how they got home the next morning, go to The Beast (full story). Try their range of bourbon flights. But don’t leave without eating the southern buttermilk fried chicken that is so good that you will rethink about eating KFC again. 

One of my other favourite hangout would be Kampong Glam cafe. The maggi goreng seafood and mee soto are two dishes that I order repeatedly.

Lastly, if you are in need of buffet (read: quantity over quality), go to Chuan Yi Pin Steamboat cum BBQ. The Entertainer app has great 1 for 1 offer which means around $13 per pax for a range of seafood , meats, cooked food, that is more varied than my English vocabulary.

So that’s that. Meanwhile in Bugis, my food adventure continues. Subject to viewership and quality of new casting, I will decide if there is a sequel to this series.  So all you talent scouts out there, leave a comment if there is a star that I have not discovered.

For those who are lost already, a nifty map below. Ciao.

10 May 2015

Tokyo | Maisen Tonkatsu

I could still remember the last tonkatsu (fried breaded pork fillet) that I ate before Maisen. It was almost a year ago. At a restaurant in Clarke Quay. Hmmm the tonkatsu could make an advertising subject for dental floss. I haven't been eating tonkatsu since then. 

Until I was in Tokyo. Since I was I was there, I googled for the best tonkatsu in Tokyo. And Maisen consistently popped up in search results.

I got the black pork tonkatsu loin. It was a good choice as the loin was more fatty, juicy. It was amazingly soft and tender. No meat stuck between the teeth. The cabbage was free flow and they were crunchy and sweet. I discovered the omnivorous side of me when I kept asking the waiter to refill the cabbage. 

They have a main outlet set in a traditional bath house. If I'm there again, I go for the bath house outlet for a different experience. 

Address: 2 chrome-24-1, Shibuya station, 9th floor.

2 May 2015

Dong Po Colonial Cafe

Stepping into Dong Po Colonial Cafe felt like a blast from the past. It's located in a colonial shophouse ventilated by fans that hung from tall ceilings. Chinese oldies sung by Chinese songstresses played softly in the background. 

My immediate thought : This is totally my kind of place. You see, I am a huge fan of heritage, vintage, but not my age. 

Dong Po serves cream cakes and pastries that look like what mother fed me back in 80s and 90s. These cakes actually go all the way back in the colonial days when some Chinese pastry chefs learn western baking from the ang mohs. Hence such western cakes were popularized back then. I do realize that such cakes are now a rare sight in big shopping malls. But they can still be found in the neighborhood bakeries. 

I got a set meal which comprise of a bostock toast and teh for $3.50. While waiting for my bostock, I got a butterfly cake for $2. 

The butterfly cake looks like something I learnt to make during my home econs class back in the 90s. It's a sponge cake which has cream. I like that it's airy and light.  The icing in the middle of the "wings" might be a little hard but I like it that way.  I would say this is quite value for money. If I compare to what I charged for the one I created back then. 

After a good 10 minutes, my bostock arrived. The bostock is actually a buttered toast with almonds on top. The crunchy almonds and crispy toast make an interesting combo of different textures. My recommendation is to eat it best when it's hot.

The Teh was nothing to shout about. Tastes like the normal type you find from normal kopitiam. 

The cafe has a SG50 campaign where you can purchase a drink for our Pioneer Generation and the cafe will match it with another drink. You can also leave a note of appreciation. Kudos to the cafe for this meaningful initiative. 

It would be interesting to bring your ah gong or ah ma here. For an afternoon of story telling. Bet they would have lots of stories from good old days to tell you.  

Old is gold. 

Address: 56 Kandahar Street Singapore 198904

Tel: 6288 1318

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