Palate Pleasers N Tummy Teasers

Jap’s take on pasta that works

June 28, 2008
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I love Italian cuisine as much, or even more so than Japanese cuisine. However, the thought of marrying these 2 contrasting styles elicits some skepticism on my part. If it wasn’t for the fact that this fusion was helmed by the well-known Waraku branding and that we approach food with an adventurous nature, I’d probably have brushed it off as some new marketing gimmick to draw in today’s increasingly jaded consumers.

I’m quite a fan of Waraku for they serve up some of the best ramen and udon here, coupled with an enticing variety and the use of fresh, quality ingredients. Likewise, their subsidiary Pasta de Waraku keeps to this tradition and proves they made the right move in choosing to diversify from pure Japanese cuisine.

My previous visit to their first Pasta de Waraku outlet at Central mall in Clarke Quay left me with a pretty good impression and hence I decided to give their Square 2 outlet a try. Their menu has a mind-boggling variety of pastas and a smaller selection of pizzas, gratins and rice; add to that a seasonal menu and a special menu, and you’ve got yourself a situation of “I wanna try that…ooh, but this looks good too!” :P

I especially love their ingenious Pasta Sets ($16.80 each) which come with a soup and a mini salad, as well as your choice of one of the following: 1) 2 mini pastas, 2) a pasta and a mini gratin or 3) a pasta and a mini pizza. These sets allow one to sample a variety of their fare, and are great for sharing when you’re not feeling that hungry :) Some pictures of the Gratin Set I had:

Soup + Salad

Mini Prawn Gratin

Their Corn Soup was suitably creamy and rich in its taste of corn, though a handful of corn kernels would lend the soup added crunch to boost its overall texture; still way better than the watered down version you get at Mos Burger though. The Salad which comprised of iceberg, romaine, red coral lettuce, and some tomatoes all tossed in a shoyu dressing, was crunchy, light and refreshing on the palate. Living up to its mini title was the Prawn Gratin, which was small even by my standards (I’m considered to have quite a small appetite); understandable considering it’s supposed to be a side accompaniment to the pasta dish. Made up of penne (pasta) and 4 shrimps, it was pretty yummy with the penne done al dente and the shrimps tasting fresh and sweet. The cream sauce it was baked in had a strong milky taste which grew on me though it may not go down well with everyone.

                         Spaghetti Bolognese

Completing the Pasta Set Menu – Meat Bolognese Spaghetti. As you can probably tell from the picture, the spaghetti was a tad overcooked. What looks like a watered down sauce is thankfully, solely a result of them not draining their pasta fully before dishing it. I say thankful cos’ the meat bolognese sauce is the saving grace of this dish. Rich and flavourful, the blend of minced beef in a pulpy tomato sauce with a hint of herbs is exactly how a good bolognese sauce should be. Mix in the perfectly poached egg and you get a pasta sauce that is literally good till the last drop :P

My companion’s order of Bacon Curry Pilaf ($9.80) didn’t fare as well:

                                Bacon Curry Pilaf

The sticky texture of Japanese rice and the spices used in Japanese curry are odd bedfellas. They simply do not go well together. This dish may have tasted a lot better if it was presented in the traditional style of simmering the main ingredients (in this case bacon and mushrooms) in Japanese curry and served with plain rice. Goes to show there are times when it’s best to stick to tried-and-tested formulas. There’s a reason why these formulas survived the ages y’know.

A sweet round-off to dinner came in the form of a Macha Azuki Parfait ($6.80):

                                              Macha Azuki Parfait

Think icy, creamy green-tea ice-cream atop vanilla softserve, with a base of crunchy cornflakes and adorned with a wafer biscuit, 2 strawberry slices, 2 tiny scoops of mashed red bean and 2 Japanese mochi balls. The ice-cream was a bit too milky for me which I felt overpowered the green-tea flavour; but I’m an ice-cream snob remember? :P The mochi balls were chewy and as they are tasteless on their own, went well with the ice-cream and softserve. If you haven’t tried ice-cream/softserve with cornflakes, go try it sometime! The crunchiness of cornflakes coupled with the chilled sweetness of ice-cream make for an interesting melange of flavours and textures; highly recommended! ;)

Pasta de Waraku

Central: 6 Eu Tong Sen Street #02-82/83 The Central

Square 2: 10 Sinaran Drive #01-07 Square 2

Marina: 6 Raffles Boulevard #03-257 Marina Square

Full menu here.

Posted in Restaurants

Calling all Brownie/Cheesecake lovers!!

June 17, 2008
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If you haven’t already noticed, there’s been a new addition to the sidebar of this blog, in the form of a banner ad featuring some yummy brownies :) If you’re a fan of brownies, cheesecakes and the like but find it too much of a hassle to bake your own (or have never set foot into a kitchen), you may wanna consider placing orders at the e-mail listed there. Everything is lovingly made and baked from scratch by a “Baker Boy” who goes by the name of Daniel.

I’ve tried his brownies and New York Cheesecake (shown below) and they’re good stuff! Their brownies manage to be crisp on the surface yet light to the bite, and aren’t tooth-achingly sweet. You know you’re dealing with dangerous stuff when a non-brownie lover like myself manages to unconsciously polish off 4 brownie cubes in a sitting  :o

              New York Cheesecake

I especially liked that their New York Cheesecake was a dwarf version of those usually sold outside; add to that a thick, cocoa biscuit crust and you get a cheesecake that won’t have you gagging on an overload of cheese when you’re at the last mouthful. A slice of this New York Cheesecake makes for a fine tea-time snack that is light enough not to ruin your appetite for dinner :)

“Baker Boy” has plans to expand his list of baked goodies which currently comprise of brownies, chocolate cake and New York Cheesecake. I’ll post the full variety and price list here as soon as it’s out, but if you can’t wait to get your hands on some brownies/cheesecake (after reading my review and staring at the tantalizing pictures), feel free to drop the friendly baker an e-mail at to know more.

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Desire dessert at 2am?

June 12, 2008
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If you’re familiar with the food scene, you’ll know which establishment this post is gonna be about simply from reading the title. This place was the talk of the town when it first opened, due to its pioneer concept of serving dessert till 2am. Thanks to 2am: dessertbar, people on this island no longer have to settle for greasy pub fare or prata to quell those midnight hunger pangs.

This is actually one of the places that I wanted to visit but didn’t, after reading a couple of bad online reviews, which were mostly gripes about bad service. As service is an important part of a dining experience, I wouldn’t have set foot into this cafe if not for the strong recommendations and great company I had that night.

As it turns out, service was actually quite pleasant; perhaps attributable to the fact that there were still 1 or 2 tables unoccupied when we arrived. That being a Saturday night, I was quite surprised to see that there wasn’t much of a crowd or a queue of people waiting to get a table in this relatively small cafe. Maybe it’s the flak they’ve been receiving online or simply that the hype is dying down.

A glance at the menu revealed a list of about 10 dessert items, a variety I consider a tad scarce for a place whose main draw is desserts. Nonetheless, quality still takes precedence and that was put to the test with my order of Chocolate ($14). No, I didn’t get a bar of chocolate for 14 bucks. This is what 2am’s Chocolate is all about:


A dish of warm chocolate tart, wild nettle and salted caramel accompanied with a scoop of blood orange sorbet. First forkful into the tart resulted in a steady ooze of thick molten chocolate. I liked that they were very generous with the chocolate, unlike some molten chocolate lava cakes sold at other establishments where you can’t find a drop of liquefied matter. Couldn’t taste much caramel and not too sure how nettle is supposed to taste, but I didn’t get that either. The blood orange sorbet was puckery sour which didn’t really do it for my tastebuds. Perhaps something less tart like raspberry/blueberry coulis would have been a better pairing with chocolate.

Had a taste of my friend’s order of Twix (burnt caramel mousse, peanut crumble and home-made valrhona chocolate ice-cream) and I immediately wished I had ordered that instead. I admit being partial to the word “Valrhona” but the soft, fluffy mousse covered in peanut bits was everything a good dessert should be – smooth, with a balance of sweet and savoury, and insatiable.

I would return just to try Green Tea (crème brûlée, frozen white chocolate dome, apricot), which was a contender for Chocolate that night, and to have Twix all to myself :P It also helps that the dessertbar boasts a nice chill-out ambience thanks to its dim lighting and jazzy tunes in the background. Head down with good company and a stomach with just enough room for dessert! :D You can also check out their menu here.

2am:dessertbar is at 21A Lorong Liput Holland Village (beside a multi-storey carpark)

Opens from 6pm-2am everyday except Sunday.

Posted in Cafes

When you crave Hainanese Chicken Rice…

June 8, 2008
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When I crave Hainanese Chicken Rice, one of the places I head to is Pow Sing Restaurant at Serangoon Gardens. What sets this place apart from other good Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls is their selection of tasty Nonya dishes, which complement their well-known chicken rice. Having just steamed chicken with rice can get a bit boring after awhile, which is why I like the idea and convenience of being able to pair other dishes with my chicken rice all under one roof. Having said that, no visit to Pow Sing is complete without ordering their Hainanese steamed chicken and chicken rice (pictured below):Chicken Rice

The rice served here is fragrant without being too oily, with the chicken tender and flavourful. If you love your chicken skin like I do, the glistening skin you see here should have you sold on where to dine for your next meal :D Prices depend on the chicken parts you request for (e.g. chicken wings are sold at $2 each) and a serving of chicken rice is priced at $0.90. For those who are super health-conscious, they serve white rice as well; though in my opinion, you’ll probably be better off having economic rice.

Naturally, in addition to chicken rice were orders off their Nonya menu…First up, their Sweet and Sour Fish ($10):    Sweet & Sour Fish

Essentially your good ol’ sweet and sour pork, just that it’s fish. To be precise, fish coated in batter stir-fried with slices of cucumber, tomatoes, pineapple and onions. I’m not big on sweet and sour stuff but this dish won me over by not being too sweet (as most other places are wont to do), a sauce that is of the right consistency – neither too gooey nor watery, and fish slices that were crisp on the outside yet soft and fluffy on the inside. One of my favourite places for sweet and sour fish *thumbs up*

Another dish I like to order at most places – Kangkong Belachan ($8):Kangkong Belachan

Okay, this dish doesn’t do very well presentation-wise; Reminds me of how kangkong used to be pig’s feed back when Singapore was a fishing village. Fortunately, it tastes much better than it looks. Not much to say about the veg itself cos’ it’s the chilli that makes or breaks this dish. The sambal belachan used here is superb! The fragrance of dried shrimp coupled with belachan that is not too spicy for the palate makes for a winning dish. Only downside is that it’s a tad oily.

The final dish of that night’s dinner – Crispy Tauhu ($8): Crispy Tauhu

Give this dish a miss. There’s nothing crispy about it though I must say the beancurd was really very soft and silky; much like eating deep fried tau huey :neutral: The overall taste was quite blah and even the sweet dark sauce that accompanied this dish did nothing to lift it.

Now that you’ve read this, you know where to head to the next time you’re craving for some Hainanese Chicken Rice :) All dishes from their nonya menu come in 3 sizes: S, M, L. Everything featured here is small. Their full menu, as well as address and opening hours can be found here. Oh and did I mention that there’s no service charge here ;)

Posted in Restaurants

High-tea and buffet recommendations

June 8, 2008

Felt I needed to write a post as a caution of sorts after a visit to Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts. Marketing their high-tea as serving an “international spread” is what one would dub a case of false advertising. Over at Carousel, mushy lumps of Japanese rice that masquerade as sushi and a carving station of kebabs is about as international as you’ll get; the last I remembered, nasi lemak, laksa and steamed baos did not fall under the category of international cuisine :roll: I don’t mind tucking into local fare for high-tea but quality should never be compromised. Oddly enough, the food quality and variety seemed to have taken a drastic drop after their external make-over. In short, Carousel fails to deliver. I can’t say the same for their lunch/dinner buffets cos’ I haven’t tried them (nor am I sure I want to now), but one thing’s for sure – if I wanted to have high-tea that serves local fare, I’ll happily cross the street to Goodwood Park Hotel’s Coffee Lounge instead

With regards to dinner buffets, I would recommend Carlton Hotel’s Cafe Vic and Orchard Hotel’s Orchard Cafe for their truly international spread. Both charge around $50+ per adult and you get what you pay for. Avoid Triple 3 at Meritus Mandarin though; at close to $60 per head, their food is far from what you’d expect for the price you’re forking out. It says on their website that “Triple 3 is the only buffet restaurant in town to be awarded the ‘Best Buffet’ title by Wine and Dine magazine”. Isn’t it strange they didn’t state the year they won the award? From the looks of what they’re dishing out, must’ve been ages ago…

NB: All places and food reviewed on this blog stem solely from the dining experiences of papilles.

Posted in Restaurants

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