Xiao Ya Tou – Funky yet delicious!

Xiao Ya Tou

Duxton Hill near Tanjong Pagar MRT

img_1264Let me start off by saying, this cafe-bar isn’t cheap, especially so if you were to get there intriguing cocktails. And given the higher price point, yet cluttered interior as the tables are really spaced closely to one another, one may find it not so worthy after all. What Xiao Ya Tou could offer though, as its name has suggested, is a retro, hipster experience that would whisk you back to the 60s with its nostalgic furniture and background music that seemed to be played out from a cassette. Just by peering through that old window frame that you could find only at the older flats or landed properties, you would notice that quaint little kitchen that is more open than most modern ones as it doesn’t have a higher table top or chic glass facade.

img_1265And as we look around, you would realise that almost everywhere is worth a picture as the owner boasts that huge collection of retro stuff that he has or has bought in, yet not forgetting to add a little bit of modern elements to make it awkwardly attractive. Service was fun, bubbly though it is evident that they are short staffed; the waitress has tried her best I say and that any unintended tardiness should be forgiven.

img_1269Seated at the table initially, I requested to move to the counter table that gives you a much bigger private space, actually the entire area as most preferred the tables. 2 cocktails for the brunch and that thick delicious milo dinosaur was my favourite as it had alcohol. Being the more refreshing option, I loved the suntory highball initially but the dilution factor was a little large as the ice melts. $15 for each glass.

img_1270Crispy Otak Otak roll – Otak paste hidden within those crispy rolls that are given a delicious nutty body by the sauce! $12.

img_1272Unagi Benedict – one of the highlights you can find in every review, the poached egg underneath was perfectly runny and that hollandaise sauce was given a Japanese slant that managed to amalgamate the teriyaki unagi with the buttery brioche. $23.

img_1274Xiao Ya Tou breakfast with Kimchi scrambled eggs and chicken cheese sausage. $23.

img_1275The spread.

img_1277And all the sweets for you when you get the bill.

This should be another place to look out for for dinner I reckon!

Verdict: A good cafe bar. 3.8/5.

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A Wong – Fun looking dim sum

A Wong

70 Wilton Road near Victoria Station

img_0642A Wong, one of the newer establishments, that is being raved greatly by London Foodies and is really the other limited modern dim sum place that I know of after Yuatacha and Hakkasan (or basically the establishments under the famous Alan Yau empire). Perhaps one of the first, A Wong doesn’t require you to order a basket of 3 as the price of the dim sum goes by per piece. Yes, more variety that a small group could try and that is a strong selling point. Modern, loads of fusion and much thought evidently given to each morsel, some ticked while some felt… strange. My favourite still lies with Hakkasan, as every dish I got there randomly from its menu was just spot on. Well, lets take a look at some of the highlights / more interesting stuff at A Wong. £70 spent for 2 persons.

img_0648Minced rabbit meat in carrot. The plating – just too cute to be eaten so quickly. Great lightly chewy consistency in the skin of this fried dumpling while the flavour of the fillings hit the right notes, intense.

img_0662Shredded lamb in pan fried Chinese bun. Very Lamb-y, strong flavour and the different elements came together beautifully.

img_0660Wagyu beef fried rice. Not greasy, while the fried rice is filled with this coveted beef umami and strong wok hei, that is made refreshing when wrapped in that crunchy lettuce leaf. Looks Korean, doesn’t it but I thought the lettuce is just a good to have and not exactly integral.

img_0663That salted duck egg bun or liu sha bao was crazy delicious! Fluffy pillowy with a lightly crusty base, and packed with that thick, runny salted yolk.

img_0645Great ribs over here as the sauce ticks.

img_0657I was a little hesitant over this scallop salad with egg waffles though. Nice buttery crispy waffles over there but pairing it with a refreshing savoury seafood salad, I indeed have my doubts. Flavours seemed to have clashed and I think a heavy savoury pairing should work better.

img_0646This truffle xiao long bao clearly didn’t work as the truffle flavour seemed to have muted the sweet pork broth, or rather it could have been mellowed to bring out that faint truffle scent.

london-2017And the rest of the dim sum that were not too bad, very modern looking but wasn’t as impressionable as the first few.

img_0667But the toilet does have nice wallpapers for you to take a selfie. Alright, being totally random here.

A nice hang out this place is and it is part of the Michelin guide Bib Gourmand 2017, but I guess I will return to Hakkasan or even Royal China actually.

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.6/5.

 

Nanjing Impressions – Pretty deep impressions made

Nanjing Impressions

Plaza Singapura at Dhoby Ghaut

img_0164Very Chinese looking, especially so with those lanterns hanging there that actually form the entire menu, Nanjing Impressions does feel like an old quaint restaurant by a random Chinese river. Ambiance worked and the food did leave a pretty good impression on us. Always going for the more familiar and fragrant Cantonese style (or at least it is in my opinion); that has also formed the benchmark when it comes to oriental cuisine even though I know that there’s many different types of cooking all across massive China. And I say, this is a Chinese restaurant that I actually appreciate. The fragrance is there and the food doesn’t feel coarse (an attribute I always associate with Chinese food) which made everything more palatable, but just slightly heavy handed on the grease there.

img_0169Sesame scented beancurd Julienne. $11.80.img_0172Jinling noodles in light soy sauce broth. $6.80.

img_0168Jinling roast duck – $32. That crispy skin was on point and the sauce it was drenched in was marvellous.

img_0176Palace Chicken with pickled chilli. $13.80. Prepared in a very beautiful bowl indeed and that crispy chicken skin together with the tender meat underneath was flavoured up greatly by the light spicy kick.img_0177Shrimp Roe Custard with scallions. This was however a little mediocre for us. $10.80.img_0173Loving those Celestial Roast duck dumplings over there as they were huge, packed solidly with duck meat fillings soaked in an intense duck broth. $6.80.img_0179The savoury for the night!img_0181Osmanthus steamed sponge. Very chewy, dense, solid, perfumed with that Osmanthus fragrance throughout; this has become the favourite dessert dish over there. $4.80.img_0182Red Bean glutinous rice balls in Sweet Wine. $4.80. Wine in my dessert? Bring it on and yes indeed you could taste that alcohol in it!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.8/5.

Tai Cheung – So fun without the queue

Tai Cheung

Near Holland Village MRT

img_0290That’s it, we finally got the the famous Tai Cheung Bakery cafe that has attracted a huge beeline when they first open few months ago. Not anywhere else, but here in Sg the first cafe is opened in, is perhaps something we have already heard for the nth time. But this is somehow the reason that this bakery is getting all the attention! Got there at 12pm and was a little peeved as I was afraid that it might be a grueling 30min wait in the hot weather but were lucky to just have one patron in front, that makes it a very fast 10min wait to get an air conditioned seat. Beautiful egg tart counter outside that are selling exactly like hot tarts and I could hear quite a few different languages from the queue (Japanese definitely who are by birth foodies), that’s how international this awesome egg tart has gone!

img_0327Two of us indeed, but three mains were ordered! Started off with the scrambled egg toast stack with chicken chop and that chop seemed to be panting with a bulky mash of scrambled above it. Of the right consistency but could be slightly light handed on the butter for some, this was adequate for me as I am for a healthier scrambled toast anytime! And that chicken chop was fried to that beautiful crisp! $9.50.

img_0325This Beef Brisket Curry Rice may seem a little stingy, with a meagre amount of beef cubes in it only. While the plating might have done injustices to it, the curry was definitely impeccable with its thicker sauce that tasted so fragrant and intense. Fried wedges added and the shallots added helped to lift the flavour further. It could be served in a smaller bowl for a fuller look I thought. $10.++.

img_0329And the final savoury – Three coloured silky eggs with rice and char siew and crispy pork belly. Three different kinds of egg used here to yield that eggy experience, I felt this a hearty main actually while the colours and textures seemed to have been worked on by the kitchen team!

img_0332img_0333And what other way to end the meal perfectly but with the Tai Cheung egg tarts! So buttery, eggy and fragrant, they are indeed worthy of the calories! $1.90 for one.

A quick lunch over here, as you also start to notice it operating it in a Cantonese way, with dap teui (sharing of tables) becoming prevalent but service is still Singaporean, not as rushed! Then again, this is what that gives it a more Hong Kong-ish experience that we love that!

 

Paradise Classic – Very impressive chain, at least for this branch!

Paradise Classic

Suntec City near Promenade MRT

img_0154Rarely do I blog about chains, but this Paradise one, did impress us by a substantial margin, that beckons a review on the blog. Firstly, the price point over here at Paradise Classic is very reasonable, with hearty servings mostly priced under $15 but most importantly, a reason that makes the foodie gives the thumbs up is that this did not translate into greasy cooking just so that the excessive oil can lift the flavour of the dishes (though not exactly in a desirable manner always). And that spread above for both of us, it only costs us $36 each!

img_0146What a vibrant red dish! The fragrance of this dish, tomato scrambled egg, was etched in my memory ever since I tried the rendition prepared by the Hong Kong friend in London few years ago. Beautifully done scrambled with a lightly creamy consistency, they are coated with a sweet sour tomato-ish body that greatly lifted its fragrance. Really enjoyed this a lot! $8.80.

img_0148It wasn’t an expensive soup of the day, but at $6.80, this was really a steal as the flavourful broth was made tasty with a generous amount of ingredients in it; pork, fish maw, cabbage; and it actually tasted a little like a small bowl of the typical CNY steamboat!

img_0150And as we waited with much anticipation for the espresso chicken, this became the most favourite dish of the day. Fried first before coating each chunk with the coffee sauce, that crispy skin tasted so awesome that today became a cheat day for me. This is beautifully glazed with a light layer of caramel while that sharp bitterness of the espresso came through strongly. Delish! $13.80.

img_0151Prepared with a large amount of dried shrimp, chilli and spices, the gan xiang fish collar was heavy tasting, packed with lots of wok hei but unfortunately a tad greasy. Still as yummy in its own right though! $16.80.

img_0147And we ended with this refined plate of seafood fried rice as every rice grain has been coated heavenly with an eggy seafoody fragrance which both of us love. More importantly, there wasn’t a layer of visible grease after the entire plate was emptied. $13.80.

A small lunch over here at Paradise Classic, but a big statement it has already made with just a few dishes – that this is definitely a worthy restaurant to visit for a hearty Cantonese meal.

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.5/5.