Steph’s Notes on Paris (Non touristy; where to eat drink shop in Paris)

I am writing this for future reference, and to keep these memories golden forever.

Montmartre

Touristy, but absolutely magical to climb the steps and walk the ancient streets that Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Dali and many others hung out at. The view at the top when you reach the Sacre Couer cannot be justified with words. Beautiful.

Pigalle 

(A short walk from Montmartre. Pigalle used to be a sleazy part of town for prostitutes. It has now cleaned up and is emerging with a few hip spots and night clubs, but generally still quite quiet like it is waiting to be discovered.)

Buvette – Named as the place Lefooding fell in love with the most this year. Me too. Cafes need to learn from Buvette. It has a simple yet satisfying menu. We had a tasty chicken salad and a waffle sandwich and wine. Sometimes, a simple meal like this is better than any Michelin starred fine dining meal. Highly recommended.

Glass – A new bar in the neighbourhood. Dark, rustic, wooden interior. Music is very good soul/jazz. They have daily specials and I couldn’t stop complimenting them on their slushie shots that go for 3 euros each. Refreshing and tasty and a brilliant way to salvage leftover ingredients. They serve complimentary salted popcorn, and we also ordered a piping hot and toasty hot dog. Delicious.

Other worthwhile visits: Dirty Dick

Opera

Porte 12: This restaurant was only three weeks old when we visited. We were lucky to snag a table because I made a reservation the minute they opened. Why is there so much hype around this restaurant? Chef Andre Chiang, whose eponymous restaurant in Singapore is #38 best restaurant in the world, has opened an outpost Paris. However, he is not helming the kitchen here. Chef Vincent, who worked with Chef Andre before, created the menu. Even the staff have worked with Andre before. Great food! So much thought went into the dishes and every component is well balanced! I might do a solo post on this restaurant if I have time. 68 euros per person before tax and wine.

Le Richer: They do not accept reservations so be prepared for long queues here! It is a casual bistro-style restaurant with pretty complex dishes and fresh ingredients.

Shopping: Galeries Lafeyette and Printemps are the biggest names here. I recommend that you walk through it if you must, then make a beeline straight to the top floor of Lafeyette for the rooftop garden where you can take in sights of the Eiffel Tower, the Opera and Paris.

Other worthwhile visits: L’Office

Goncourt/ Votaire/ Charonne/ Bastille

(Home to the hippest restaurants in town!)

Bones: This reminded me a lot of my favourite restaurant in Singapore, Burnt Ends, possibly because both have Australian chefs. Rustic, smokey flavours. I loved this from start to end. It is 70 euros per person without wine.

Le Chauteaubriand: Hot favourite restaurant recommended by so many people from Anthony Bourdain to a friendly bartender. Hipster french food. They have the most mind blowing dessert! It is 70 euros per person without wine. Check it out for yourself.

Le Floreal: I like this place because I get an extensive list of wines and cocktails, and fresh seafood platters to go along with it. Good fresh seafood in a very hip atmosphere! Right next to the metro station, very convenient.

Other worthwhile visits: Frenchie, Septime, Perchoir

Marais

Glou: Recommended in the Michelin guide, you know it’s good. I love it for its laidbackness, and quality of food is top notch. Order a simple steak tartare and it will probably be the best you have ever tasted. There’s a special something in their food.

Breizh Cafe: Some say they have the best crepes in Paris. Definitely worth a stop. I would choose the savoury crepes made from buckwheat because I think they are definitive of Paris. Sweet crepes can be found anywhere. They have wide selection of ciders to go along with your crepe.

Shopping: Shine at15 Rue de Poitou carries a lot of things I like. You can find comptoir des cotonniers, Helmut Lang and Zadig & Voltaire along the same street. The Kooples and Sandro shops are along Rue Des Francs Bourgeois (must visit), Karl by Karl Lagerfeld at Rue Vieille du Temple, and a department store BHV Le Marais. End off your shopping day by taking in the magnificent sight of Hotel De Ville, a stone’s throw away from BHV. When I was there, a timeout event was going on and the square was filled with giant white balloons, with the magnificent building as backdrop

Other worthwhile visits: Marche L’Enfants (outdoor food market) and Bibi Idea Shop (where i bought the whole shop down!)

St Germain

L’Atelier Joel Robuchon: This branch at St Germain has 2 michelin stars. A discovery meal is 175 euros per person. Surprisingly, it is not hard to get a table. I managed a walk-in and was seated. Something I must point out is that it is not suitable for big groups because it is bar seating. The food is French, not many surprises from the meal. It is okay.

L’Comptoir: As you can see from my restaurant recommendations so far, I am not fan of traditional french food because it is too rich and heavy. However, L’Comptoir scaled down portions and revised it for modern palates. Another plus point is it is open all day, meaning you can stop by for a snack and wine at 4pm. Recommended by Anthony Bourdain.

Prescription Cocktail Club: Opened by the illustruous Experimental Cocktail Club brand, a small speakeasy that has no signboard on the exterior, and the bouncer will ask you a question before you are allowed to enter. It has loud music, but is comfortable with its couches and lounges. We tried a couple of their creative cocktails, but ended off with our favourite classics: Side Car for me and Old Fashioned for him. Always.

Terroir Parisien: Chef Yannick Alleno who received his Michelin star at Le Meurice left to open this bistro. He gives his modern take on traditional french food in this vibrant venue.

Shopping: Boulevard Saint Germain has boutiques like Kenzo, the first Diptyque store, and most importantly, department store Le Bon Marche. Equally well stocked as Printemps and Lafayette, but with NO TOURISTS. Be sure to check out their gourmet wing as well.

Rue Saint Honore

Colette: The one shopping stop I highly recommend. I always tell my boyfriend that the merchandising in Colette is one I strongly admire. Everything is interesting, conversation worthy, trendy, unexpected, and so much more.

Chanel store at Rue Cambon: It is such a chore to buy Chanel in Paris. There is so much waiting involved. But if you are interested in getting your Chanel fix in exclusive white boxes and white paper bags, go to the Rue Cambon store. There are a few other stores down the next street. Those have shorter waiting times but black paper bags. The decision is yours.

Bookmarc: Marc Jacobs’ only bookstore. Drop by, get a pen or sharpie or notebook.

Eiffel Tower

Les Tablettes de Jean Louis Nomicos: Michelin starred restaurant near the Eiffel. The set menu comes with two glasses of wine and is a reasonable price of about 80 euros for a Michelin experience.

David Toutain: Hottest place to eat in Paris now! Lots of vegetables in this meal. Hard to get reservation.

Burnt Ends @ Teck Lim Road

Burnt Ends is no stranger to publicity as it has been featured on the New York Times, and named among the hottest restaurants of 2014 on Zagat.

20140725-213955-77995399.jpg

It is a collaboration between Loh Lik Peng (local hotelier/restauranteur) and Andre Chiang (of Restaurant Andre). Kitchen is helmed by Aussie David Pynt – who has had a long history with barbecue (in Aus & London), therefore – he makes the perfect fit at Burnt Ends, which as you might have guessed, serves smoked/ grilled/ wood-fired dishes.

As such, I would consider a good oven to be the backbone of support at such a restaurant, as all its dishes rely on it. Sure enough, their oven was custom-built to accommodate different temperature settings for different dishes at once. This can go up to 1,700 degC. Another system that caught my eye was the open grill, that can be lowered and raised using a lever. This was also custom and designed by David Pynt himself.

Look around the restaurant, it is small with only 18 seats along a bar counter. There is a no-reservations policy except for the chef’s table – which takes reservations almost 2 months in advance and has a min spend of $100/head. Of course, it is worth every penny. The open concept restaurant lets you witness the start-to-finish of your dish, and more interestingly, the theatrics of this lively kitchen. There is non-stop movement and action that adds to the unmissable burnt ends experience.

20140725-213956-77996455.jpg

———–

I started with a warmed oyster ($6), which is a fresh raw oyster in delicious hot soup – I made out melted butter and white wine.

20140725-213953-77993633.jpg

Next we had the smoked quail eggs, their signature ($6 for 5). The egg is bouncy on the outside and when you bite into it, the yolk explodes in your mouth like a tasty revelation. The smokiness from the grill is perfectly conveyed to you via the eggs, which makes it the perfect introduction to the restaurant, and start to our meal.

20140725-213954-77994538.jpg

On a separate visit, we had the smoked quail eggs with caviar ($15 for one). It adds a decadent texture to the classic dish, but you can do without it.

20140725-231455-83695638.jpg

Fennel with orange and burrata was a well balanced blend of creaminess and tanginess – with added crunch.

20140725-214000-78000792.jpg

Their other signature is the Burnt Ends Sanger, which has in it pulled pork, cole slaw, chipotle aioli in a brioche bun ($20).

20140725-213959-77999985.jpg

The Iliocostalis ($14) was a small piece of beef, with crispy fats around it, and tender meat in the center. Served with mustard. Came highly recommended by our waiter with reason, if you are looking for a savoury starter, or meats in small portions.

20140725-213957-77997273.jpg

The only main we ordered was the flank with burnt onion and bone marrow ($23 per 100g). Even though flank is usually the cheaper part of a cow, this was amazingly tender. It was beautiful watching our chef cut up the piece of cooked meat to reveal the red rareness of the meat inside. Would do this again 1 million times.

20140725-213959-77999078.jpg

Dessert came in the form of a burnt lemon sherbet, blueberry compote, marshmallow and crumble. It would have been perfect without the blueberry which overwhelmed the dish and confused our tastebuds. ($12)

20140725-213958-77998259.jpg

I find the dishes reasonably priced for this standard. Definitely deserves a revisit.

Bincho @ Tiong Bahru

Bincho shares the same shop space as tiong bahru’s acclaimed Hua bee mee pok. Hua bee makes use of the front half, so take the back entrance for bincho.

20140701-085959-32399291.jpg

Essentially, bincho is a yakitori restaurant. But that is quite the understatement. I visited for lunch – they do yakitori rice bowls set lunch for $25-30. It is definitely one of the best, and most value for money set lunches in Singapore.

My dining companion ordered a pork don while I ordered a chicken patty don (they go by their japanese names on the menu, but I cannot remember them).

The set lunch comes with a slew of side dishes, and first of the lot is this cooked chicken/ carrot/ radish/ onion dish, drizzled with a light soupy gravy. Heart warming and appetizing.20140701-090305-32585673.jpg

Next was the salmon skin salad. Who doesn’t like fried salmon skin, right? Dressing for the salad was also a winner.

20140701-085953-32393708.jpg

Chicken wings in sweet sauce. I was surprised by their generosity. There were so many side dishes, and all of them quite good.

20140701-085954-32394696.jpg

Miso soup was special, they added some beans/ bits inside to add a crunchy texture. It was fun to drink the soup. I suspect they cooked the soup with pork bone because there is a unique flavour.

20140701-085957-32397370.jpg

If you have a small appetite, you might already be full by now. But the dons finally arrive and they are amazing!

My chicken patty don came with sweet potato, zucchini, jalapeño, onions, ginger, and topped with raw egg. I cleaned up the bowl spotless. So delicious. The chicken patty was so thick and juicy. I enjoyed the vegetables too because I don’t like too much meat. And the raw egg just took it to another level. I can’t even. I suspect this might be their signature dish, because it is at the top of their menu?

20140701-085956-32396501.jpg

My dining companion’s pork don came with a generous serving of pork, onions, and ginger on the side. The pork was a bit tough in my opinion, but it isn’t my favourite meat to begin with. My partner liked it though.

20140701-085955-32395591.jpg

Ended off with either a black sesame or green tea ice cream.20140701-090001-32401780.jpg

The gastronomic journey was exciting, and very affordable. Everybody should try bincho. There is no reason not to! I can see myself going back again and again for lunch. I wouldn’t mind going alone, or with an old friend for a catch up session. Note that it is not suitable for big groups as it is a very small place.

If you are interested in dinner, they have set meals at $60, 80, 120. Which I feel is reasonable as there is a lot more food.

aside: a few interesting things…

-it would be nice to cross over to plain vanilla nearby for a post-meal coffee and cake. I love the outdoor spacious concept of this space.

-furniture, chopsticks, etc are shared between Hua bee and bincho. It is interesting to see their different takes on the same items. While Hua bee looks old school, bincho looks rustic chic.

-menus are written on blackboards on the wall. There are no paper menus. If you have difficulty reading, they will happily take the blackboard off the wall, and hold it up in front of you!

20140701-085958-32398309.jpg

 

Bam! Tapas Sake Bar @ Tras Street

I do enjoy a good sake every now and then, but realize it is never consumed outside of japanese cuisine. Whereas wine and beer are universally accepted.

20140701-085640-32200374.jpg

I guess the founders of Bam think so too – executive chef of now defunct Santi at Marina Bay Sands worked together with sake expert Derrick Lim to start Bam, where tapas plates are recommended to be paired with their extensive list of sake. The choice to serve sake in wine glasses is also a symbol of fusing two different cultures.

The adventurous concept does not stop there. Dishes incorporate fine ingredients from Japan, Spain and around Asia into Spanish style dishes. The results were impressive – creative, refined, and tasty.

The first dish we had was “kampong egg with baby sotong and chorizo ($16)” This was great, but to be fair, you really can’t go wrong with a runny egg. But to add, everything on the plate was so refined, even baby sotong. It was a perfect deep fried golden down, crispy and flavourful. The textures of the crispy + runny + ham = winning formula.

20140701-085641-32201316.jpg

20140701-085642-32202303.jpg

Next, we had “uni with burrata, salicorn and chicken soft bones ($33)”. This was foodgasmic. With every bite I put into my mouth, I closed my eyes and imagined a better world. Creamy uni mixed with milky buratta, why has this never been done before? They are a match made in food heaven and I still remember the explosion in my mouth today. I will go back just for this dish.

20140701-085643-32203108.jpg

“Pasta a la plancha with prawns and sake butter ($26)” was a bit less revolutionary, but comfort food at its best. Fresh and plump shrimp!20140701-085643-32203912.jpg

We ordered a bottle of sake to accompany our food. And all in all it was about $200 for everything. Prices are a bit steep here, considering the portions. But if you are in a group of friends and you are sharing it, it isn’t that bad. Plus it is deffo quality food.

20140701-085644-32204876.jpg

I really like the concept, and am happy that sake is growing more popular in Singapore.

Bye!

The Beast @ Jalan Klapa

The poster child for southern cuisine is undoubtedly fried chicken, the ultimate comfort food. Lesser known southern classics include pulled pork, bacon, mashed potatoes, grit, cornbread, etc. Note that it’s definitely not for anybody on a clean-eating diet. Here’s what we had when we visited Singapore’s first ever southern restaurant & bourbon bar in the arab street area:

IMG_0654

Started with happy hour beers – $10nett per pint.

IMG_0640

Chili Concarne $14 is a no-brainer when it comes to sharing food among friends. It is hearty, tasty and easy to eat. It was served piping hot and we enjoyed the savoury start to the meal. However we realized later that we were served nacho chips instead of cornbread, that was stated in the menu. We wonder why?

IMG_0645

Chicken & Waffle $20 – Here, half a chicken is deep fried but without the sickening oily feel. The blend of sweet and savory when eaten with the waffles and maple bourbon syrup was perfectly on point. The gluten-free waffles were soft yet crisp. Quite mind blowing and finished this as quickly as it was served. MUST order!

IMG_0646

Jack & The Beast Stalk $12 – if the previous dish was mind blowing, this was definitely earth shattering. In this dish, green beans are deep fried with a SECRET seasoning. We tried getting it out of the waitresses, but they refused to divulge. If we had to hazard a guess, my dining companion said sugar while I say plum. So you can guess that it is sweet. MUST MUST order!

IMG_0698

Portions are big, and I would recommend ordering one dish at a time, as southern food is best enjoyed hot. Only move onto ordering the next after you have finished the previous dish. They cook pretty quickly anyway. Not forgetting the free flow salted popcorn that the waitresses were very happy to top up voluntarily.

IMG_0641

Onto the drinks – All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. The main difference between whiskey and bourbon is that bourbon must be made entirely in the USA. The distinctive flavors are often attributed to the spring water used.

If you are a bourbon beginner, do try their flights. These are sampling platters that allow you to taste three different bourbons. There is an introductory flight ($34) for beginners, or low/high-rye ($34) if you have more specific tastes. We went for the small batch ($36) flight because we wanted something exclusive, followed by a single barrel flight ($38) for a more premium experience.

IMG_0668 IMG_0674

With flights, there will definitely be hits and misses but it’s a good way to expose yourself to various spirits, and understand the difference in tasting notes, aromas, palate, aftertaste, etc. If you need guidance, they provide notes for you to study as you drink.

I also tried a couple of cocktails; the Beast Smash, and the Scarlet Sour ($20 each). I requested extra sour for both, and made them doubles. Meanwhile, my dining companion progressed down the bourbon menu, one glass after another ($20 each).

IMG_0686 IMG_0689

We also ventured to get shooters ($12 each)! Being a sister bar of Chupitos in clarke quay, they have similar daredevil shooters mixed from the weirdest ingredients. We ordered one of everything from the menu. And I would say Pickleback was the weirdest! It made me feel like snooki! It is bourbon mixed with pickle juice and I absolutely underestimated the intensity of the pickle because it was really overwhelming. It’s like eating a Macdonald’s cheeseburger and you want to pick out the pickles but you can’t in this case!

IMG_0694

Service was stellar – we made friends with every one of the waitresses. They were outgoing, friendly and funny. Bartender was knowledgeable about bourbon, not just about the taste but also the background stories of each distillery. She gave spot on recommendations everytime we requested for a specific type.

Chalks are provided in the bathroom to encourage customers to draw on the walls. No rude messages spotted as far as I know, and shows that the crowd is really decent. LOVED the adventure time cameo.

IMG_0692

In the southern states, it’s never about pretenses. It’s about carelessly over-indulging in too much fried food and good bourbon. And that is exactly what we did one fine Monday night after a hard day’s work. Swap out your heels for some cowboy boots and get ready for a really good time!

The total damage was $330 for 2 people, because we drink too much for our wallets’ good.

There is live music most nights but they failed to sing my song – “Why’d you only call me when you’re high?”

IMG_0681

Dinings @ London

Let this post go out to my dining companion; who brought me here knowing I would love it, who always seems to know what I would order from ANY menu, and who generously picked up the check for this meal. Thank you. (Disclaimer: My horrendous photography obviously does no justice to Dinings)

“Everybody talks about Dinings,” my friend said to me. Here’s why.

Chefs Tomonari Chiba and Masaki Sugisaki hail from Nobu London, but left to found Dinings – a Japanese small plates concept adapted from traditional izakayas. The innovative menu shows European influences, but authenticity and freshness are never compromised under these chefs. They cooked their way to place Dinings at the top of Zagat’s “Best Japanese Restaurants in London”.

For a top restaurant, there is not a trace of pomposity here. The decor is utilitarian and there is no dress code (my partner even advised me to change out of my dress into jeans instead). The waiters are so friendly and knowledgable, eager to talk at length about the menu, from cover to cover. This is because Dinings has always pride themselves on making customers feel comfortable in a friendly atmosphere. Be forewarned that the space can get quite cramped, but I rather enjoyed eavesdropping on neighbouring conversations.

IMG_2338

First dish to arrive was our tartar chips, which are homemade potato crisps, filled with avocado, toro fatty tuna, vegetables and wasabi-jalepeno sauce. This is a signature of Dinings, and there are other variations of these chips if tuna is not your thing. Whatever you do, this is a must order. I had a conversation with my colleague the other day wholly on the chips at Dinings. (£8.50)

IMG_2336

The seabass carpaccio with fresh spring truffle and ponzu jelly, some say the best dish at Dinings (according to our waitress). Get used to it, because every dish here is decadent as hell. Check out the generous layers of truffle on top. The sour and tangy flavours whetted our appetites. However, we noted that if this dish were to come later during the meal we would not like it as much, because the sourness is very strong. (£19.80)

IMG_2340

Tuna tartare with fresh truffle was an off the menu item. Can you tell that I love my starters? (£17.80)

IMG_2341

Wagyu beef tataki with ponzu and porcini oil (£18.85) Picture below from zagat because my own picture sucks.

dinings_london_680_340_85_s_c1

Time for some hot food, because everything before this was cold. The grilled aubergine with sweet miso was a beautiful giant half piece of aubergine, great texture (firm yet melt in your mouth), cooked in sweet miso paste and served piping hot! This would convert even eggplant haters! I still dream about the flavour! (£6.70) We also got a miso soup with salmon that is not pictured, (£4.75).

IMG_2345

Seared yellowtail belly with yuzu kyosho (yuzu with a black pepper kick – another signature at Dinings) (£5.45)

IMG_2351

Scottish salmon “zuke” style topped with caramelized onion-soy-jam. (£4.95)

IMG_2347

Seared Yuzu-soy marinated Santa Barbara shrimp sushi topped with kizami-wasabi, which is a Dinings version of wasabi. (£6.45)

IMG_2349

Seared wagyu beef sushi topped with foie-gras and sweet soy (£8.45)

IMG_2350

I always have the best dessert at Japanese restaurants. Below is mustard shiso ice cream, topped with a pork slice. (£6.70) The mustard was mild, yet undeniable. So ingenious and one of the best things I’ve had in life. I like to think of it as a new age salted caramel.

IMG_2353

We booked 2 weeks in advance and the total damage was £150 after tax. Amazing meal and will definitely come back.

Hashida Sushi @ Mandarin Orchard

Hashida Sushi is a fine dining sushi establishment at Mandarin Gallery. This is master sushi chef Tokio Hashida’s first restaurant outside of Japan. Choose from three lunch sets – $80, $120 or $250. For the higher end set lunches, you will get more premium seasonal fish, sashimi and others. We settled for the modest $120.

IMG_0091

We sat in a cosy six-seater room, and other people only joined us 1 hour later. So we had our chef all to ourselves! Our chef, Kimura Tomoo, was extremely knowledgeable, with years of experience at restaurants in Tokyo’s ginza, roppongi and akasaka areas. He very earnestly described every dish, ingredient and preparation method to us despite struggling with English at times. There were never ending stories, and so much to learn; for example the origins, the seasons, and the culture in Japan. His passion was an integral part of our experience at Hashida.

IMG_0066

By the way, see the knife there. That is an $8000 knife.

IMG_0059 IMG_0087

To start with, we had a soya bean skin yudofu, with salmon roe and bonito jelly. Vegetarian monks used to eat this in ancient Japan, but without the roe of course. Very mild and clean flavours from the soya skin, complemented perfectly by the jelly and roe.

IMG_0056

Chawanmushi with scallop and white asparagus. It was soupier than usual chawanmushi. This soup was made from sakura leaf, since sakura is in season now. (Sakura starts to bloom from the south of Japan around this time, and proceeds upstate until it reaches the north in about May. During this season, Japanese enjoy sitting under cherry blossom trees and drinking sake, much like our Chinese mid-autumn festival, where we eat mooncake and drink tea.)

IMG_0061

The meal officially begins and sushi is served. There were 9 different sushi. The first sushi was ishikaya (striped sea perch). It is an amazing white fish with a bouncy texture, and you can taste the sweetness very subtly creep up on you.

IMG_0065

Kampachi (amberjack) has an almost rubber-like texture, like a firm jelly that is very chewy. Quite similar to the previous fish.

IMG_0067

Shimaji (Jack mackerel). Sushi is all about the balance of flavours. Instead of the usual wasabi in sushi, our chef replaced it with Japanese lime instead, because wasabi would be too strong and overpower the taste of the mackerel. The Japanese lime adjusts for the perfect balance of flavours.

jack mackerel

Maguro (blue fin tuna) you might think is uninteresting at first, but our chef used a special marinade to prepare the fish. It is made from soya sauce, Japanese sweet wine, sake, and others that I cannot remember right now. Notice how only the alcohols stuck with me. Hmm. Maguro is not my personal favourite fish, but I do love the dressing very much.

h22

Taira gai (pen shell clam), is an interesting type of shellfish that I would describe as a crunchy scallop. You can only find it in south Japan. It was served aburi style, and this was a dish that truly blew us away.

h4

Same kawa (a kind of small halibut) was also another noteworthy fish. Some people nickname it shark’s skin, because it looks like it on the outside. The texture was fatty and soft, like melt-in-your-mouth, but not too fatty as it still held a level of firmness.

h31

At this point, we were served some miso soup, a welcome warmth after all that cold food. This special miso soup came with a generous number of clams.Miso soup and its paste vary with each prefecture in Japan. This particular miso soup we had is said to have liver detox properties, which delighted us because heaven knows we need it. Our chef encouraged us to drink up too :p

IMG_0076

Ever the crowd pleaser, the appearance of uni ensued in about 5 minutes of photo taking. A truly decadent dish that needs no words at all. We all go a bit weak for uni don’t we? And to say they were generous with the portion would be an understatement. There was SO MUCH!

IMG_0068 IMG_0073   IMG_0077

Our final sushi was a chutoro, also a perennial favourite.

IMG_0083

The tiny unsuspecting yellow cube below is a tamago, but don’t let it fool you. Before we dug in, our chef kept proclaiming that it was a cake. And I didn’t really get it, until I actually sank my teeth in. It is a very special tamago, very sweet, with a sponge cake texture. Super fluffy like those Japanese cheese cakes. That’s why in the past, Japanese used to eat tamago as a dessert rather than as sushi.

IMG_0084

We have reached the end of our gastronomic adventure, but even the closing was epic. Japanese fruits – strawberry and melon were unbelievably sweet.

IMG_0086

If you are interested in going for dinner, it is omakase style. But you can speak to your chef if you have any preferences, allergies, or budget. It is useful to note that Hashida is a sushi restaurant, so there is little to no hot food served, besides maybe chawanmushi and aburi style sashimi. If you favour beef/duck in your sushi, you will find none here as fresh fish is the star at the restaurant.

A special mention to my dear friend, who generously treated me to this meal. I am very grateful you introduced me to Hashida. It is always a joy to dine with fellow foodies, and enjoy the finer things in life together. Good things are meant to be shared. In total, it was $290 for two people after tax. We are coming back again soon!

IMG_0088 IMG_0090

St. John (Nose to Tail Dining) @ London

Nose to tail dining is a fairly recent culinary trend that has been rippling through the foodie world, even finding some footing in our sunny island (ie WOLF Nose to Tail Dining). If you are not familiar with the concept, it refers to utilising every part of the animal in food preparation, including those rarely used in conventional cuisine like offal. Typical dishes include pigs’ ears, ducks’ hearts, bone marrow, etc. This is to fully stretch the potential of the animal and cooking possibilities.

Since I am in London, I thought what better than to go where it all started. Chef Fergus Henderson is the pioneer of Nose to tail dining, and has published a best selling cult cookbook “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Dining”. His restaurant St. John’s was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, amongst other accolades. That’s why we were giddy with excitement when we saw the man himself when we visited St. John’s a few days ago. He isn’t always there, but they were filming an interview that day.

You can choose to sit at the wine and bakery where the wine and bread are prepared, but we had our meal in the adjacent dining room. The whole place was white walls, cement floors and wooden chairs. You are also encouraged to turn off mobile phones during meals. It’s like a blank canvas, and the only impression you should form of the restaurant should be based on their food.

IMG_1888

Rabbit offal & celeriac was a starter that came first. It was lightly pan fried and the natural flavours of the liver and kidney were allowed to shine. It came with radish and rocket on the side. If you are a fan of innards in Chinese cooking, this dish would be right up your alley. But unlike Chinese styles, this is a lot more organic and natural tasting.

IMG_1893

Brown crab meat on toast was thick and creamy. They were generous with the crab meat, and there was lemon on the side to squeeze should you want a zesty kick. I felt that this was an elite level of comfort food, because it’s good old toast, but with a really kick ass topping. Lovely to eat.

IMG_1892

Grilled ox heart, beetroot and horseradish was surprisingly meaty. Is a heart supposed to be this meaty? It tasted very much like meat rather than an organ. Perfectly cooked. This is a must order!

IMG_1896

Snails, sausage and chickpeas was the most flavourful part of our meal. Sausage was salty, the broth was spicy, snails were chewy and chickpeas were chickpeas. Yummy!

IMG_1898

Can’t decide which is the best dish because all were so good. We were so pleased with all the food. And already planning our next visit to try everything else.

IMG_1900

&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.

20140224-193435.jpg

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.

20140224-193500.jpg

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.

20140224-193517.jpg

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.

20140224-193530.jpg

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!

20140224-193545.jpg

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

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.

20140221-000938.jpg

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.

20140221-000608.jpg

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

20140221-000646.jpg

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

20140221-000635.jpg

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!

20140221-000655.jpg

Mushroom soup. ($8)

20140221-000621.jpg

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.

20140221-000713.jpg

Carbonara ($22).

20140221-000704.jpg

Squid ink sauce seafood spaghetti. ($24)

20140221-000726.jpg

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

20140221-000750.jpg

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.

20140221-000740.jpg

Finished off with a Panna Cotta and Chocolate Lava Cake.

20140221-000803.jpg

20140221-000813.jpg

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.

20140221-000949.jpg

Address
11 Craig Road
Phone
62277550