&Sons @ China Square Central

A bacaro is not quite a restaurant, or a bar. It is where people stop by to have a drink and share a few small plates of cicheti after work. This concept originated in Venice and now we have our first and very own bacaro in Singapore, thanks to &Sons!

Having just opened in mid December, it is very new, so I was surprised that when I dropped by at 5.30pm it was already half full. And as it got later, the place filled to capacity. People were literally coming in droves. And there wasn’t even a happy hour.

20140224-193449.jpgThe place was modern chic – dark wood and everything. I don’t know why I feel “sassy” is the word for it. Might be the music; it is jazz, with a very James Bond kind of mood to it. I caught my companions and myself bobbing our heads during the 3 hours we spent here.

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So we sat down and ordered a bottle of wine to start. The wine list was reasonable. I’m so sick of places where wines are at least $80. Here, the wines start at $35 for a simple white. Also, they have an extensive selection of cheese available. So if you’re thinking of a wine-and-cheese night, do try this place out.

Their food came in small sharing portions, and everything we ordered was super fresh and perfectly executed. They are clearly serious about their food. The standard for every dish served, every glass poured, is 10/10.

Sea Urchin Spaghetti Carbonara ($16). This didn’t quite taste like sea urchin, but it was the first dish that came, and we were starving so we devoured this eggy creamy dish in seconds! Accompanying it was crispy pork bits. A very simple savoury dish that you will definitely love.

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Asparagus, Garlic & Anchovy sauce ($9). An interesting salad to add some green to the table. Anchovy sauce was very subtle, and there’s a bit of blended beetroot inside as well. The dressing kind of sat in the background and allowed the taste of the vegetables to take center stage. Overall really healthy and clean, and the garlic chips added to it an extra crunch.

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Kurubota Pork Neck with Porcini Sauce ($15). It may be advertised as a kurubota pork dish, but the star here was undoubtedly the mushrooms in porcini sauce. It was super tasty. Pork was rather tough. The salad was dressed with balsamic vinaigrette which I feel balanced out the other flavours of the dish very well.

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Prawn Cioppino with capers. ($12) I was reminded of tom yum when this arrived. It did turn out to be rather spicy, for angmoh standards anyway. The croutons were a really nice touch – it was fun to munch on them dipped in the spicy broth. I was extremely blown away by the prawns though. They were incredibly fresh and juicy – better than some seafood restaurants even. Really impressive and I super loved this dish!

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Iberico pork and truffle paccheri ($15) This was an impromptu order because we were experiencing serious envy over our neighbouring table’s food. If you love cream based pastas, this is an absolute must order! The candied seaweed was kinda interesting too.20140224-193556.jpg

I HIGHLY recommend this place for groups of friends. Not only is it incredibly chic, it has substance to boot. The food far surpassed expectations, and all at very reasonable prices.

Do note that the crowd is largely the after work folk, so when I visited in my plain tshirt n jeans and a backpack, I did feel slightly out of place.

I don’t mind coming back again!

  • 20 Cross Street China Square Central #01-19
  • Singapore, Singapore 048422
  • +65 6221 3937
11:30 am – 12:00 am
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Pasta Brava @ Craig Road

Pasta Brava was established in 1992, that’s almost as old as me! Clearly it has what it takes to stand the test of time; it is still standing strong at its Craig Road location. Maybe even stronger than ever? Reservations are almost impossible to make on weekends + special occasions. So hats off to them because 22 years is not easy to get through. I would know.

(Speaking of Craig Road, it has quite good fengshui for Italian restaurants to set up shop, it seems. A few steps down from Pasta Brava is inItaly, newer but also great food. This street is a failsafe option if you’re in the mood for Italian.)

It is easy to see why Pasta Brava managed to stick around. It’s got the traditional Italian restaurant formula honed and mastered. These places never try too hard, they just want to be your cosy, traditional, hearty Italian restaurant with the friendliest of waiters. They have extensive menus with simple, classic dishes. You can bring along anyone from your grandma, to your date, to your business associates. There’s something about these restaurants that you know you can always count on, whether 2 years or 22 years down the road. They stay the same.

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So at Pasta Brava we started with a bread basket and a few pieces of chalk to draw with. Someone told me that this custom started in Italy. When business meetings were held over lunch, people would draw on the tables to illustrate their ideas. So restaurants started providing paper and chalk for people to write on.

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For starters, we had the beef carpaccio with rocket salad and parmesan flakes ($18).

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Duck liver with porcini sauce and truffle oil. ($22)

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Caprese salad, because what’s an Italian meal without some cheese. ($16) This was a really good piece of buffalo mozarella. It was light, yet just creamy enough!

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Mushroom soup. ($8)

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Ravioli filled with minced beef, served with a light gorgonzola cheese sauce. ($23.50) I thought this was really easy to eat, and a good sharing dish.

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Carbonara ($22).

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Squid ink sauce seafood spaghetti. ($24)

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Oven glazed king prawns with prosciutto and mozzarella, flavoured with white wine ($30).

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Grilled beef tenderloin tagliata. With herbs, rocket leaves and parmesan flakes. ($31) I would say that if you can only order one thing here at Pasta Brava, it better be this. I especially love it because I always find steak to be too heavy, but when it is thinly sliced as such, topped with my fav veg and cheese – I can’t help asking for more.

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Finished off with a Panna Cotta and Chocolate Lava Cake.

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In summary,

Perfect for: Groups, birthdays, celebrations

Ambience: Warm, cosy, intimate. Not too dark.

Service: Experienced wait staff. Prompt and helpful. We were never kept waiting between each course.

Come again: Yes, I will be back again and I won’t wait 22 years.

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Address
11 Craig Road
Phone
62277550

Tom Yum Kungfu @ Circular Road

It’s a funny story, how I came to know of Tom Yum Kungfu. I saw a facebook picture of my friend eating here, and in the background, at the next table was another friend of mine. (They don’t know each other.) Two of my friends eating here on the same night. Gots to be worth checking out.

A few days later, another friend mentioned coming here for dinner. I knew then that this place was already the next big thing that I didn’t know of! So sorry for being so out of touch with the restaurant scene guys. What kind of blogger am I.

Like I said, it’s already the next big thing, so reservations are advised as it is wildly popular especially on weekends. A visit on Monday night already saw a full house, and required a reservation.

We chose to sit outside. As with all BBQ joints, it gets smokey, and I’m sure we all hate how our hair smells afterwards. The outdoor seats provided a more airy environment to leave at least one worry behind.

20140217-214726.jpgThey set up the BBQ/Steamboat stove, which came in a big bowl that they placed on our table top. It’s a rather vintage set – looks like it came from the 1960’s. Unlike other mookata and BBQ joints, it isn’t electric. This fits with the vibe of the whole establishment – quirky vintage. Most mookata joints I’ve been to are very basic plastic table and chair kind of places. So this style really sets Tom Yum Kungfu apart from others.

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I think it’s a lot easier/ value-for-money if you just order the set menus, so we ordered the Large set for 4pax. ($49). It comes with pork, beef, prawns, scallops, fishcake on the meat platter. In the veggie bowl there’s maggi mee, tang hoon, cabbage and kang kong. Lots of food to go around!

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Add the spices given into the soup and mix, to add a spicy flavour to your soup.

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Place the lard and fats at the top of the BBQ plate, allow it to melt and start cooking!

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The meat isn’t great quality, but there was a great variety and just enough to keep everyone happy. The soup was tasty too.

I think I liked the veggie bowl more than anything. I kept eating the veggies and noodles 🙂

We also ordered a side of deep fried kangkong, which is tempura kangkong and served with a thousand island-like dressing. This kicked ass, kungfu style.

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It was definitely tiring having to cook your own food but it was great fun. Tom yum kungu has a lively ambience and is worth checking out with a group of friends!

Perfect for: After school or after work casual feasting! Come hungry. Dress casual. And be ready to work!

Ambience: Lively. Happening Thai and Korean pop music plays in the background. The young crowd also adds to the youthful, happening vibe.

Service: For such a busy place, service was good. We never prompted them to refill our soup a single time. They showed great initiative. And food came very quickly.

Come again: Yes

Address
16 Circular Road
Phone
65361646

The Belly Clan @ Jakarta

Everytime I go away, I tend to revolve my entire itinerary around places to eat. And I realized that one of my favourite countries to eat at is Indonesia. Namely Bali – I once read a comment on tripadvisor that said he had better food in Bali than he did in Paris. I know it sounds far fetched and impossible. But Bali is not only a tourist hotspot, many foreigners like to settle down in Bali for months on end to EAT pray love. So Bali started developing a food culture that stretched beyond traditional Indo food. The results are astounding. Bali has more hip and high quality eateries than I would give Singapore credit for. And the best part? It is dirt cheap.

Today’s post isn’t about Bali – I don’t want to dig that far into my backlog for writing material. There is a ton of backlog. For most, my memory has fuzzed a bit and I probably will not be able to write about them. Which is such a waste because some meals were really blog-worthy. Lucha Loco, Bochinche, Joel Robuchon, etc.

To prevent my backlog from accumulating any further, I shall write about the most recent restaurant I went to, and that happens to be The Belly Clan @ Jakarta.

The Belly Clan Nachos – homemade tortilla chips, melted cheese, tomato salsa, wasabi guacamole. Pretty much amazing! Great starter to get everybody going, and the cheese was not too heavy to leave room for our mains, but just enough to whet our appetite. (S$5)

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Pork Belly Balado – Roast pork belly with Indonesian balado, sauteed green peas and sweet corn. Served with tumeric rice. This is a really simple dish. They lightly cook the pork, and just dump the dressing over. But it was really delicious. (S$8)

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The Belly Clan Beef Bowl – stir fried australian wagyu beef yakiniku, with breaded japanese egg. (S$6.50) I would say this was an average beef bowl. The  remarkable part was probably the breaded japanese egg with the burst of runny yolk in the middle. I mean, you’re in Indonesia, gotta make everything 10 times unhealthier.

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Truffle Brioche Fondue – Brioche bread, truffle cheese sauce, beef bacon and tomato salsa. (S$10) Please share this dish if you order it. It’s really good! Very fragrant and yummy. But there’s not much meat in it, just bread. And it’s just too much for one person to eat and not throw up after.

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Chicken Betutu – chicken leg marinated in traditional herbs. Served with steamed jasmine rice. (S$8) We had such high expectations for this dish but the herbs they used were really smelly. Something had definitely gone bad. At the end of this post do check out a picture of the chicken betutu I had in Bali. A far cry from this.

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Belacan Fried Rice – Deep fried breaded king prawns with thai chili dressing on shrimp paste fried rice (S$8.50)

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Sandwich tempura – deep fried battered sandwich with chicken, beef bacon and chopped parsley filling (S$7)

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Red Velvet Cake – Amazing (S$4.50)

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Here is the Chicken Betutu I had in Bali @ a restaurant called Yogi’s Paradise… The place was set up by Australians and is hidden in a remote back alley in Kuta near some homestays. But it is always crowded, especially with Australians. There are pictures of people eating WHOLE suckling pigs around the restaurant – the winner was definitely the group of 3 people who ate a 30kg pig. A very happening place it seems! Do go for their seafood platter too (must book in advance)

before unwrapping:

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Unveiled! A burst of chili and spices, and very tender chicken! So yummy! This was S$12, but if you go to roadside stalls it is probably S$1.50 haha.

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The Belly Clan is a stone’s throw away from Grand Indonesia, and is suitable for groups of friends.

INTILAND TOWER LOBBY JL JEND SUDIRMAN KAV. 32 JAKARTA PUSAT 10220

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