PEr FYI

June 18, 2017

Picnic, Singapore…Don’t waste your money!

Overpriced, food average, service was poor, lack of atmosphere. The rosti is bland, the pizza is like school lunch fare, and it’s best to pretend that the signature pork belly prata never existed at all.

A critic’s job is to be unbiased. I get that. I try to ignore all the peripheral aspects of a restaurant—just focus on the food. But then, I have as moral obligation to cross that line for the greater good.

If I think you can have a better dining experience at the same price eating somewhere else, it’s my duty to say so.

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Picnic isn’t a bad restaurant. Some people might even love it. I just doubt I’ll ever be one of them. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

June 4, 2017

Samy’s Curry, Singapore…curry fish head is not going to blow your mind, but you won’t be disappointed

While Singapore’s Indian food scene is typically associated with a hub of Indian restaurants in Little India area, there are other spots that can hold their own.

What this no-frills eatery in Dempsey lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with cooking. Quite old school in its touches, Samy’s Curry is deservedly popular.

There are the traditional items – chicken masala, etc – but for something different, try the butter chicken and biryanis.  Worth mentioning is the curry fish head with its delightfully delicate meat that only Singapore gourmets and American cats know much about. It’s not going to blow your mind, but you won’t be disappointed while the still-warm freshness of the popadoms and naan breads provides the icing on the cake. Wash it down with an Indian-style thick lassi to balance out the heat.

Some like it hot, some are born to be mild, but everyone loves a decent curry. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 20, 2017

Tsuta, Singapore…I’ll be honest: this is not worth the wait

Ramen is all the rage at the moment, and it’s easy to see why: there’s nothing finer for a light dinner than a bowl of noodles and delicious homemade broth.

The “world’s first and only Michelin-starred ramen joint” doesn’t sell ramen. It sells only soba…made primarily (but not exclusively) of buckwheat (soba), which gives it a different, stronger flavor.

A queue of ramen-lovers is normally snaking down the street waiting patiently for their noodle fix. The setting of Tsuta is low key. Ordering and payment is made at a touch-screen machine. The broth is enhanced by the richness of an infusion of truffle oil. The slice of roasted pork char sui on the surface is, although tender, not deeply tender enough. The noodles are firm and slurpable.

Time is precious. I’m getting old. I might be dead soon. The food is good but is not worth the wait. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 30, 2017

Chin Huat Live Seafood, Singapore…pumpkin crab is definitely something to savor.

There’s a lot to love about the not-so-humble crab. Singaporeans will travel to great lengths searching for the perfect plate.

You know the fish is fresh when you can spy it all glistening in the cases up front. At Chin Huat, bountiful seafood tanks packed with live produce tempts you on arrival. The menu extends to a full carte with lobster, elephant clam, bamboo clam, Dungeness crab, prawns, shell items. The pumpkin crab features the sweet and refined earthy flavor of pumpkin all umami thick, and orangey-yellow creamy, accented with tender crab meat. Second best is the stir fried crab with salted egg where the salted egg creates a lovely golden crust  – crisp and rich.

Whether you’re craving a simple clam  or an ornate plate of crabs, this is one of the better seafood restaurants in Singapore. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 8, 2017

Shi Li Fang, Singapore….profoundly awful

An executive summary: it’s pricey and the food isn’t even that great— likened to “corporate catering,” it’s merely expensive food without a narrative.

Shi Li Fang is a Taiwanese steamboat joint which is misleading with hidden costs, serves mediocre food and service that sucks. Be wary. Be very wary.

I ultimately concluded that “you probably shouldn’t eat at this place.” This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

shi li fang sin

March 18, 2017

Candlenut, Singapore…a study in average

Last year, Candlenut was awarded one-Michelin-star status, an accolade that means its cuisine is “a very good restaurant in its category.”

So I went.

It being the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant, I was really looking forward to my dinner – expectations were high but realistic. My meal at Candlenut was a study in average, unevenly cooked fare, a tough sell in a city like Singapore. The kitchen seemed to try too hard to be “different” but the food was often too bland. None of the plates served barring the homemade kueh pie tie shell, crab meat, yeye curry, pickled shallot, laksa leaf – were, in any way, remarkable. When you are paying good money for a meal you expect at least a few dishes to be memorable.

Overpriced. A one-star disappointment. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 4, 2017

Tai Cheong Café, Singapore…the Marmite effect: some rave about it, some feel its meh

There are more exciting Chinese cuisines out there these days, but sometimes all you want is a good old-fashioned Hong Kong feed. That’s when you head to Tai Cheong Café. Tucked away in Holland Village, Tai Cheong Cafe is really a cha chaan teng.

Their three coloured silky egg rice are the ones to go for here, with plenty of egg to temper the rich flavours and their egg tarts also always hit the spot. I come here only for this. The others on the menu isn’t as good.

I can’t say Tai Cheong Cafe gets everything right, or that it’s a Hong Kong diner destination, but I’ll stand behind this humble—and quite cheap eatery. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 13, 2017

Shang hai la mian Xiao long bao, Singapore…pan fried dumplings are like xiao long bao on steroids

If xiao long bao are the Rolls Royce of the dumpling world, the Toyota must be the pan fried dumplings here in Alexandra Village Food Centre. They’re usually the reason for massive queues.

Sporting a thicker, chewier wheat dough, these little vibrant bullets of pleasure with their generous filling of succulent pork, come with a healthy slick of grease from their crispy, irresistible bottoms. The filling LITERALLY explodes with pork juices, but the sturdier wrapper holds up to some serious pan-frying. Best appreciated with chilli and vinegar, they’re cheap and by default, cheerful.

Dig into these babies as soon as they arrive — it’ll be well worth the scorched tongue.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 28, 2017

Asiamedic Wellness Assessment Centre, Singapore….I was easily seduced by a bargain

Like many over-fifties – and many who are much younger – I endlessly and pointlessly worry about my health. I was intrigued, as any middle-aged hypochondriac would be. Had my misspent youth left irreparable damage?

For many, the aim of the assessment is to reveal any potential hidden health problems, so that they may be treated before an illness develops. Though I don’t smoke and I eat pretty well (aside from too many snacks). I am also quite unable to resist a bargain. So I was easily seduced by the offer from Asiamedic Wellness Assessment Centre.

Slightly spartan compared with some of the other clinics, this ‘holistic’ health screen included a consultation with a nutritionist as well as Prostrate Ultrasound, urea breath test and Treadmill ECG, tumor marker tests and ultrasound liver, and a consultation with the doctor. I was told to fast from 10pm the night before as I would be having blood tests. On arrival in the morning, I was given a packaging kit to provide stool samples for later analysis, slightly off-putting but no doubt vital. Then I was taken by a nurse into a pristine medical room where she tested my eyes, ears, blood, weight and height.  It was relaxing and non-threatening. For two hours I undergo a barrage of screenings.

I left each feeling reassured and empowered – and a bit smug. It was enough for a boy to want to go to the pub and order a celebratory bottle of Savignon Blanc or three. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 14, 2017

Tai Cheong Bakery, Singapore…very difficult to limit yourself to just one

This beautiful delicacy has no equal in the world. Only the Hong Kong or Portuguese egg tarts can inspire such passion.

Egg tarts are found on every street corner of Hong Kong and Macau. The ones at Tai Cheong Bakery is reputed to be the best in the country. In Singapore, this flavoursome egg-enriched shortcrust pastry provides textural contrast with the wonderfully smooth, creamy custard. It’s a very eggy treat.

The tarts are at their addictive best when they’ve cooled down slightly but are still warm. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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