Archive for Singapore

Group Therapy, Singapore.

Happy New Year all! 2011 was a year of changes for me but the one I embraced most of all is going away for short getaways over weekends whenever I could. Even the last weekend of the year was no different. Made the drive down south and was pleasantly surprised to find the roads clear to and fro.

Had our first brunch of the new year at Group Therapy, an upstairs cafe along Duxton Road. I was quite happy we found the place as the ambience and mood of the cafe is what I enjoy. Cozy, intimate and full of character. Being there with company I enjoy, great coffee and unpretentious food was group therapy indeed.

As it was New Year’s they did offer a champagne brunch set but we still ended up ordering ala carte. I read later that their menu changes from time to time.

First sign that greets you on your way up is “Fresh Hot Coffee” and that’s exactly the caffeine kick I was looking for that morning. Beautifully made Latte ($5.50) & Mocha with Lindt dark chocolate buttons ($6.50) were our choices. I found the Mocha a tad lighter than I hoped for. It seemed to lack a certain punch. Maybe I should have gone for a double shot latte instead. But still, frothy and milky.

My choice was the Scrambled eggs with parmesan, mushroom and bratwurst ($18). The scrambled eggs were a wetter than I usually like them, but sandwiched in between the crisp, buttered toasts, it was still comfort food.

The grilled Panini with Ham & Mozzarella Cheese ($16) was served with couscous and potato chips. I liked how the couscous was prepared with both fresh and sundried tomatoes and bits of red cabbage which gave the sweetness to the side dish.

To make the Croque Monsieur even more decadent, the grilled ham & cheese sandwich is topped off with an egg, usually a sunny side up to make a Croque Madame (S17) (apparently due its shape looking like a hat). But my friend wanted scrambled ones on hers instead. Garnished with Kaiware sprouts, this was deliciously cheesy.

To end the meal on a sweet note, we chose the seasonal Caramel Apple Crumble ($8). Very cinnamon-y and chock a block full of apple dices. One thing though, this is served chilled.

Must say, the laidback vibe of the place has won me over. Great place to catch up and hang out with friends. Only question now is, when ah to go back Singapore?

Group Therapy (www/fb)
49 Duxton Road,
Singapore 089513
Opening Hours: Tue-Thu: 11:00-18:00
Fri-Sat: 11:00-23:00
Sun: 09:00-18:00
Closed Mondays.

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Maxwell Food Centre, Chinatown Singapore.

During my past few trips to Singapore, I rarely had the chance to venture out alone, let alone go to Chinatown to explore. Travelling solo during this weekend in Singapore gave me the liberty to go wander. As I only had the morning to spare, I decided to go to Maxwell food centre as the food stalls along Smith Street were not open yet.

At 8 am, most of the stalls were not open but this particular one already had a steady queue. After joining the queue, I still had to wait about 20 mins before it was my turn. But by then, I could see the long waiting time was not really due to the number of people waiting in line, but due to the slower preparation time in the stall itself. An uncle was cooking every order separately, while another filleting fish at a corner. The aunty taking our order was not very friendly and had quite a long face. And I have heard her telling off the people in front of me already! The porridge here must be out of this world for people to put up with this?

After ordering, I still had to wait at the side for about 10 minutes before I was “summoned”. I say that simply because a lady in front of me accidentally touched a bowl of porridge that wasn’t hers and got barked at so I decided I would wait till I was called. Heh.

This “yu sheng” (鱼生) or raw fish salad seems to be on everyone’s tray so I too ordered the smallest portion. At $3, it’s value for money as you can see how the ingredients has piled up on the plate. A good squeeze of the lime, mix the whole lot throughly and dig in.

This was the highlight for this meal. It was more memorable than the porridge to be honest. The flavours of the fresh fish, ginger, spring onions, chilli, sesame seeds with the lime and oil blended very well together.

The porridge here is thick, with no whole rice grain in sight. I decided to have the 鱼腩 or “yu lam” which is the fish belly porridge. The single bowl of porridge was literally laden with ingredients, so much so that every spoonful I had was not only porridge alone, but with bits of fish, or spring onions, gingers, shallots etc. I forgot that the fish belly came with those long, curving bones and that did make this porridge a bit more troublesome to enjoy. But at $3, this was really value for money and if you’re the type that likes smooth, dense congee, then this is worth your time.

Zhen Zhen Porridge 真真粥品
Stall No.54, Maxwell Food Centre
Chinatown, Singapore.
Opens 5:30am to 2:30pm.

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Another famous stall in Maxwell food centre is Tian Tian which sells Singapore’s national dish, the Hainanese chicken rice. It needs little introduction and is touted as one of the best chicken rice in Singapore. Even though it opens at 11am, by 10:40am when I passed by, the queuing had already started. A quick peep confirms that they’ve already started serving, I quickly jumped into the queue too and within 10 minutes, received my own plate of steaming hot chicken rice.

So the verdict. The chicken was really good… succulent, juicy, and tender. I enjoyed every bite of the meat. As for the rice, it was flavourful and fluffy yet lacking the bite I was looking for. Perhaps I was expecting too much as even celebrity chefs have said so much about the rice. I loved the chilli, with it’s slightly sourish signature tinge. But instead of coating it on the chicken, I had it mostly with rice as I wanted to taste the chicken in its natural flavours.

The chicken won me over but not the rice so I guess the search for Singapore’s best chicken rice is still on for me… I reckon this would be my next stop?

Tian Tian Chicken Rice 天天海南鸡饭 (www)
Stall No.10 Maxwell Food Centre,
Chinatown, Singapore.
Opens 11am.

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Epicurious, Singapore

I have heard of Epicurious before but never thought that I’d go one day. It so happens that I was staying at the hotel just opposite The Quayside and as I walked to Robertson Quay, spotted the cafe. It was very full during weekend brunch times, and mostly with groups of friends catching up.

I was quite surprised to see only about 3-4 tables on the inside, while the majority of the seats were the al fresco ones. Despite the possibility of suffering from the heat, the al fresco seats do offer a great view of the colourful Alkaff bridge. I ended up sitting at one corner of one of the long tables in Epicurious as I’m alone.

As they are promoting casual dining, I can understand the quaint, unpretentious decor used. The mish mash of pre-loved chairs, tables with displays is charming, but bits of the restaurant has also started showing signs of wear. Still, it’s all part of the “charm” of this neighbourhood joint.

The comfort food served here consists of salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta etc and is listed on the blackboard behind the counter. However, the brunch menu is available on a print out.

The items that were highly recommended by others which I could recall off hand was this baked eggs with toast soldiers (sounds heavy :P) , the full monty (3! eggs, bacon strips, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans) and pancakes. I ended up ordering the Green Eggs and Ham, which is really eggs scrambled in pesto for that greenish tinge, and a slice of prosciutto ham on bread and some herby potato cubes. Apart from the eggs being a tad salty, I would say it’s rather delicious! The bread was fresh and had a nice crunch and I loved the potatoes!

One thing that disconcerted me a little during my brunch here was probably the staff. Service was not the best, but the waiters were efficient enough. Yet, the lady behind the counter (which I later found out was one of the owners) made me uneasy as she seemed to enjoy snickering with the other help on customers. i mean, we can hear you!

well if there’s to be a second chance, i’m sticking to the al fresco seats to escape the “bad vibes”…

Epicurious (www)
#01-02 The Quayside,
60 Robertson Quay,

Opening hours :
Tues-Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10pm
Sat & Sun 9 am-4pm, 5:30pm -10pm

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A day in Singapore.

Made one of those super quick trips down to Singapore and was in the company of some family friends throughout. When good friends gather, we’re sure to end up eating. Hehe.

Started off early at this corner lot coffeeshop in Siglap by the name of “Soy Eu Tua”. Strange name eh? I reckon it must be some direct translation from Hokkien. Hehe.

The most famous stall in this coffeeshop seems to be this Ah Lim Mee Poh. Mee Poh is quite a staple dish in hawker centres around Singapore. One can have it dry tossed or with soup though the former is more popular. The essential ingredient in the sauce apart from the soy sauce and oil is a dollop of chilli paste. But if you’re unused to chilli sauce with your noodles, you can opt to have tomato sauce instead.

The flat noodles, with the chilli paste hidden under the minced meat, fishballs, fishcake and prawns. Mix everything well together before tucking in. The secret of the tastiness lies in the hidden “bombs” within the strands of noodles – the bits of pork lard. The noodles were springy but I’m still not too sure about the pairing of the noodles with chilli, as I very much prefer mee pok (面薄) done the Sarawakian way. Kudos for the fresh fishballs and prawns though.

And oh, the coffee here is not too bad though. Not too sweet with a smokey flavour.

Ah Lim Mee Poh
Soy Eu Tua coffeeshop,
15 Jln Tua Kong,
Siglap, Singapore.


Our brunch destination was Red Star for their Hong Kong dim sum. This place is located, strangely enough, on the 7th floor in a block of HDB flats! The crowd was something that I didn’t expect. In fact, we queued for a good 20-30 mins before getting a table. And all the while, I stared at the waitresses going about with their trolleys. Business was brisk, and the atmosphere as seen on Hong Kong TV series, noisy, slightly chaotic and vibrant. The restaurant looked like it belonged in the ’80s with its near faded carpet, grand ceiling etc. The decor sure is a testament to how long they’ve been around.

There are no fixed menus, and it’s quite interesting looking out for what waitresses bring out or have to offer on their pushcarts. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to chase after one of them to make sure you get a portion of what’s good as it gets snapped up pretty quickly! Famous for the roasted meats, we tried some along with other unusual dishes like the cold jellied pork dish, braised pig’s fallopian tubes etc. We actually ate more than was pictured here (couldn’t snap in time) and even though some of the old favourites were quite good, the rest of the dim sum was average only. Some of the dishes were on the cold side. I can only wonder if it was the crowd? The only dishes that made enough of an impression on me was probably the egg tarts, fried prawns and the wu kok.

The price is quite reasonable (no conversion though) and I’d recommend this place for the true yum cha experience more than for the food. Service was a bit abrupt but can say very efficient also. But don’t be shy about “stalking” the pushcarts, or no food for you. Hehe.

Red Star Restaurant 红星酒家
Blk 54 Chin Swee Road
Singapore 160054
Tel: 6532 5266 / 6532 5103

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Towards the night we headed for St.James as we were intrigued by the concept of having an all-in-one nightlife entertainment hub, housing 9 clubbing outlets playing all kinds of music along with eateries etc.

So after the “fun”, we ended up having supper at Ah Wok, which is part of the Station Kitchen chain of restaurants, I believe. They served “Zhu Chao” (煮炒) fare, which is like Malaysia’s typical dai chow cuisine. Love the open kitchen even though had a niggling thought of smelly clothes at the back of my mind. Lol.

The dried dough crullers starter dish. Cooked with chilli, and curry leaves, it was crunchy and crispy.

The stir-fried beef hor fun (flat rice noodles) with various greens like bell peppers, onions, baby corn etc in a black bean sauce and served on opeh leaf. The secret to this dish does not only lie in the tender beef slices but also the wok hei lingering on the noodles and I think that the chef here has quite good control of the fire indeed.

Another thing we tried was the “Ngo Hiang” (五香) or what Malaysians call Lorbak. But instead of a plate of mixed fried goodies, here one gets a deep fried meat roll with minced meat, five spice powder, julienned carrots and jicama. Not sure what they use for the skin, as it’s not the usual beancurd wrap, and is something more flaky. But whatever it was, tasted pretty yummy.

Am frankly surprised that the food turned out better than I expected. When there’s clubbing and food, the food tends to be lacklustre most of the times. Guess there’s no need for good food when the partakers are mostly inebriated in various stages. 😛 Lol.

So with a full tummy, and some good memories, we were on our back to KL. Short trip or what?

Ah Wok (The Station Kitchen)
3 Sentosa Gateway
#01-11/15 St James Power Station,
Opens 6pm onwards.

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Artoholic Singapore

We were driving down Joo Chiat Road when we noticed this place called Artoholic. Thinking it was an art gallery, we decided to pop in but was pleasantly surprised to see that it also doubles up as a cafe.

The decor is almost minimalistic, with concrete rendered walls & floors, wooden blocks for stools/chairs etc. The bar counter is towards the back of the shop, whereas displayed art feature prominently in the front. They have their menu nicely drawn out on this blackboard arch which does serve as an eye-catching feature. The

This is Spicy Eggie, a toasted sandwich with curried mayo eggs with onions & celery. Filling was a little lacking for such a thick toast but tasted okay.

Duo of Tomato bruschetta which is tomatoes with olive oil, cheese & homemade caesar dressing. The toasted bruschetta was crisp and warm. This tasted better than the sandwich.

Mocha. Served with a ginger cookie. Love the stirring spoon.

Well as Artoholic is mostly cafe food, there’s really nothing spectacular about its offerings. But thought I’ll just bring up this place for anyone frequeting Joo Chiat road much. As we were leaving, also saw this other shop Egg3 down the block. Well, well, Joo Chiat is becoming quite trendy! The lifestyle boutique is very hip and a little kitschy but it’s quite a treasure trove. I could spend hours there just browsing!

Some pics;

the counter. i saw nooka watches! /swoons. i so want one.

knick knacks and such. they have some really nice bags!

i ❤ that sheep bag but bit pricey after conversion so couldn’t bring myself to buy it. And when this painted piece on the old school tiles caught my eye, couldn’t resist snapping it. Nice surprise 😛

Artoholic (www)
422 joo chiat road,
singapore 427642

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Food Republic, Singapore


for some reason, we kept ending up at Food Republic during our weekend in Singapore. not intentionally though, yet the two shopping malls we visited, Vivocity and Wisma Atria both had Food Republic as their food courts. the first thing that struck me when I stepped into Food Republic was the decor. The olden chinese element, quaint yet cozy. the one in Vivocity is huge of course, whilst the one in Wisma Atria only features 14 stalls. still, most of the stalls can be found in both places.

decided to try the beef brisket noodles from “Chinatown Beef Noodles牛车水牛王”. The soup was robust which warmed me up. they were very generous with the “hor fun” (河粉) portion too which I couldn’t finish. The other things that I tried was the popiah, bbq chicken wings and oyster omelette which we shared. Didn’t think much about them, even if the chicken wings are rather crispy. Also had the soya bean (豆漿) and “yau char kway” (油炸鬼/油条 – fried chinese dough crullers). Love the consistency of the soya bean which wasn’t too sweet.

Couldn’t resist trying the Singapore Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles which I saw was a popular choice. The noodles (mix of yellow and rice flour ones) are fried wet, as they are stewed and later fried in seafood stock. then, squid rings, prawns, vegetables etc are tossed in. to enhance the taste, one squeezes lime juice on it and mixes in some sambal chilli. apparently, the soft palm bark (fragrant opei leaf) served with it is supposed to set off the fragant smell to bowl you over. The stall that was selling the noodles was Yong Heng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee and there was already a queue there when I arrived, and a young man was frying the noodles in this huge wok, adding the pre-cooked prawns & squid rings bit by bit. I did think that quality was overshadowed by quantity here, as the noodles were not as hot as I would like it to be. And i couldn’t taste what all the fuss about these prawn noodles were. I guess I should try the authentic hawker ones next time, instead of having it at a food court.

The biggest hit with my colleagues was most probably the slow-fire boiled soups (炖汤) from “Granny Fine Soups 嬷嬷靓汤”. Between the few of us, we have tried the Lotus Root Soup (蓮藕汤), Ginseng Chicken Soup(人参鸡汤), Black Chicken Soup and the Pork Rib & Corn Soup. We also had the steamed egg custard (蒸水蛋) and steamed minced pork (梅菜蒸肉) and the steamed pork ribs. As it was rather early when we had some of the soups, it wasn’t flavourful enough. Yet we didn’t have this problem when we tried the soups again later in the evening.

Despite the mediocre fare I had at Food Republic, I don’t think that’ll deter me from going back again as I enjoy the variety and convenience of food courts. And I think at the back of mind, I always knew that quality of food at food courts are the sacrifice for speed and quantity.

Food Republic
VivoCity Level 3
1 Harbourfront Walk

Food Republic
435 Orchard Road
#04-00 Wisma Atria
Singapore 238877

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Newton Circus Food Centre, Singapore

Was brought to Newton Circus Food Centre for a quick bite during our trip in Singapore. Heard that this hawker centre is very popular with tourists but since we were there in the late afternoon, we saw more locals. the place looks newly renovated and is quite clean.


we sat down in front of stall no.6 as most of my colleagues opted for the teochew fish porridge. just a few stalls down was this dessert stall selling a wide variety of hot and cold desserts and i was quite surprised to see “Dou Suan” (豆宣) on the signboard. Ordered it without hesitation as it’s one dessert that transports me down memory lane, back in the days of my childhood when my grandmother used to cook it. it’s actually split mung beans (绿豆), or deskinned ones and are light yellow in colour. cooked to a starchy consistency, it’s then eaten with sliced “yau char kway” (油炸鬼/油条). Love the blend of sweet & savoury taste. It’s purported to be rather cooling too.


instead of fish porridge, i decided to have “Kway Chap” (粿汁), another hawker specialty that I used to eat in my hometown but isn’t available in KL. At Newton’s, Stall 13, Kwee Heng (贵興) sells it apart from other braised meat. It’s basically a teochew dish of flat, broad rice sheets in a soup made with dark soy sauce, served with pig offal, braised beancurd, and braised hard-boiled eggs. Ordered a bit more of the braised pork bits to share with the others. this sure brings back fond memories even though I would prefer it to be less oily. Boss’s friend who sat opposite me ordered the “Bak Chor Noodles” (肉脞面 / Minced Pork Noodles) and it looked so good and enticing! the flat noodles were served with minced pork, mushrooms, lettuce, meatballs and fishcake. Must source the best one available before my next trip to Singapore and try it!

I guess Hawker Centres are the safest bet for those who want a variety of authentic hawker food and Singapore has countless numbers of them.

Newton Food Centre
Newton Circus, entrance at Cavenagh Road.
Singapore 55000

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