Sunday, May 30

Jones the Grocer

Good morning! (:

It's another bright and beautiful day! I'm currently searching for a brunch/ lunch venue to celebrate our completion of possibly the toughest tasks that we've set out to complete thus far! While searching, I was reminded of our trip to Jones the Grocer (the Mandarin Gallery branch) a couple of weeks ago.

Like the outlet in Dempsey, the Mandarin Gallery outlet was packed with people wanting to have some yummy western breakfast/ brunch/ lunch food.

This table had just been cleared and it awaits its new diners! Seating capacity wise, I feel that both outlets have comparable number of seats but I may be wrong. It's always wise to go early (before 1230) on a weekend to prevent long wait-times for seats!

I think it's the trend to put up some items of the menu (or in the case of Wild Honey, the entire menu) on the chalk board because it provides diners with the ease of perusal. In Jones the Grocer, the chalk board spans the entire length of the kitchen so you have something that looks like this:

However, if you are a a meticulous person or if you prefer to scrutinize the menu before placing an order, fret not - you will be given a nicely-bound menu to help you make your choice.

I'm starting to think that Jeffrey and I are starting to become hot chocolate ($5) fans. We tend to order hot chocolate whenever we feel like we need a warm beverage. The hot chocolate served here is one of the better ones that we have tasted so it's definitely worth trying.

Another favourite breakfast/ brunch drink of ours is orange juice ($5.50). This cup of orange juice is freshly squeezed and the oranges that were used were (presumably) very sweet hence we ended up with a nice, cool short glass of orange juice.

Because I'm still suffering from a muesli high caused by my numerous trips to Cafe Beviamo, I decided to go for Jones Muesli ($9.50) that day. Unlike Beviamo's macadamia muesli which comes in one single cup, Jones Muesli comes in one big bowl, two small bowls and a little jug. Essentially, all the muesli (including gigantic dates, you can see them in the photo!) are poured into the big bowl and you have to do your own mixing-and-matching. You can mix your muesli with yoghurt (small bowl on the left), fruits (small bowl on the right) or milk (in the jug, cut off from the main photo). Personally, I felt that the muesli were a little too dry for my liking. I would have preferred to have more yoghurt becuase I want my muesli to be 'wetter'. Other than that, this is a relatively healthy and filling meal.

Jeffrey ordered the Jones Wagyu Beef Burger ($26.50) which was good apart from the minor fact that his burger resembled an open-face sandwich more than a burger because of the type of bread used. Nevertheless, the wagyu beef patty is well-cooked and the melted cheese is its perfect companion (: This is probably Jeffrey's default option when we dine at Jones.

Finally, we ended off our meal with a chocolate brownie ($6). Personally, I didn't think much of this because I felt that the brownie was too dry and the melted chocolate sauce was extremely oily and thin! I'll definitely try another dessert in future.

Jones is THE place to go for a chilled-out weekday brunch/ lunch and while it may be popular weekend brunch/ lunch venue, you should know that it can get quite noisy at times because of the lively chitterchatter that goes on ceaselessly. Other than that, it's a great place to dine at! (:

Monday, May 24

Wild Honey

Hello! (:

It has been unusually sunny the past few days, which is as well because it's the last week of school for the younger students in Singapore! (: To make their last week of school even better, they're having a four-day week because Friday's a public holiday (Vesak Day), which means that they get to have an extra day of holiday! (: Wheee. One of my sisters is finally coming back from Hong Kong after being there for five months so the limmies will DEFINITELY be spending a lot of time together from this weekend onwards! (:

If I had to choose one brunch/ lunch place to bring all limmies to this June holidays, I would bring them to Wild Honey! Although it isn't the cheapest of places, I feel that it has a good range of breakfasty dishes so my fussy siblings have a higher chance of choosing something that they want to eat.
Wild Honey works on a first-come-first-serve basis and no reservations are allowed! It is an extremely popular brunch/ lunch/ meet up place during weekends so don't be too surprised/ shocked if the lady taking down your name and number tells you that you have to wait for approximately 1.5hours for a table for two! That's what happened to us during our first visit to Wild Honey but because we didn't want to wait for 1.5hours, we gave it a miss and went back another day. Thankfully, we only had to wait 25minutes for a table during our second visit so we waited patiently just so that we could try their famous breakfast dishes! (:

Their entire menu is written on the chalk boards surrounding the cashier/ ordering counter. The breakfast dishes are classified according to countries/ cuisine-type so you'll see things like American breakfast, English breakfast, Mediterranean breakfast etc. On top of that, Wild Honey serves an extensive range of drinks (from non-alcoholic to alcoholic) so you will definitely be spoilt for choice!

Jeffrey and I decided to have a cup of hot chocolate ($5) each. It had sufficient cocoa powder which was good because I don't like my drinks to taste too milky.

Unlike me, Jeffrey made his decision rather quickly. He went for the English breakfast ($22) and boy was it a good choice! When I saw his food arrive, I almost wished I had chosen the same breakfast dish too! On his clean white plate lay two thick slices of toast, huge baked beans, sausages, bacon, half a tomato, sauteed potatoes and scrambled eggs! I absolutely LOVE breakfast and seeing all these typical breakfasty food just makes me go green! I picked some bits of his food because I couldn't resist it! If you are a breakfast lover and if you can stomach a rather large portion of food, you really should get the English breakfast set because it'll make you a very happy person after you've ingested the entire dish!

After much pondering, I decided to go for the California breakfast ($18), which consists of scrambled eggs with greens on two thick slices of toast. I know this dish doesn't look like much, especially after comparing it with Jeffrey's marvellous English breakfast, but it will suffice. Don't get me wrong, my california breakfast didn't taste bad at all, it just wasn't as tasty as Jeffrey's (at least to me) because I prefer more flavourful food. The eggs were more watery than I'd expected them to be but the cubes of green and red peppers as well as the green vegetables gave the eggs a more wholesome taste. The thick slices of bread held the dish together very nicely because they made perfect company for the eggs.

Last but not least, we ordered a petite chocolate tart ($4) to share because we were under the impression that the tart would be slightly larger than this. On hindsight sharing this tart isn't such a bad idea because the chocolate ganache was very rich and thick! It's definitely not something that non-chocolate lovers will want to trifle with.

In short, Wild Honey serves quality breakfast food that makes you want to go back for more! At present, I'm already thinking of the next breakfast dish that I want to try when I get to Wild Honey again. Perhaps it'll be a better idea to visit Wild Honey during the weekdays because it gets crazily crowded during the weekends. However, if you must visit this popular joint during the weekend, please try to arrive before noon so as to minimize your waiting time.

Have a great sunshiney week ahead everyone! (:

Wednesday, May 19

Jin Shan Lou

Hello! (:

I think this temporary break is really doing me some good because I can finally slow down and do things that I enjoy doing such as walking along the streets without feeling guilty and stressed and enjoy a good chat over a meal without feeling like I need to rush home to do stuff. I will cherish every moment of this temporary break from work.

After going through the challenges in the past three months, I feel more appreciative of rest time. To me, 'rest' transcends just mere sleeping or taking a much needed nap; 'rest' is time away from work, time to just let my mind stop working and do nothing. I know some people will frown at the idea of doing nothing but I personally am envious of people who have the luxury of doing nothing because many a time I wish I can do nothing but vegetate but my reality does not afford me such extravagance. Bottom line is that I am really thankful for this brief period of respite and I hope to make full use of it to recharge my tired body and mind! =)

Last weekend, Jeffrey and I went on a little adventure! We took the train and travelled to Marina Sands via the circle line! (: It was our first time commuting via the circle line and we both agreed that it makes travelling in town more convenient! We alighted at the Promenade station and walked all the way to Marina Sands hotel! (: I wished it hadn't rain prior to our walk because the pavements were muddy and wet =(

Anyhow, Marina Sands was pretty crowded that weekend despite the complaints that were made about that place. A couple of weeks prior to the avalanche of complaints, Jeffrey and I actually visited Jin Shan Lou at Marina Sands Hotel because Jeffrey's generous relative was in town so he treated us to a meal.

Jin Shan Lou is one of the few restaurants that are opened for business at the beginning of this month and I was surprised to see quite a number of patrons dining here.

View of Marina Sands Hotel from our table at Jin Shan Lou. The restaurants at the lobby of Marina Sands Hotel adopt an 'open concept' so passers-by can look at diners and whatever they are eating.

We had free flow Chinese tea which costs $1.50 per cup.

The first dish that came was pretty exotic in my opinion - Duck's tongue and jellyfish ($16). I wasn't daring enough to try duck's tongue but Jeffrey said it was pretty tasty! He commented that it tasted like meat. The jellyfish was pretty springy but I would have preferred it if it was covered with a bit more sauce.

Then came the soya sauce chicken (small, $12). It was pretty average but the sauce was good!

I'm not very sure what this vegetable is called in English but it's called 'Dou Miao' in Chinese and it tasted a bit like spinach except that it's harder. I thought that the chef did a great job in stirfrying this dou miao dish (small, $20) because the vegetables retained their crunchiness and the seasoning was just right! (:

This are the condiments of our small pot of soup of the day ($18). I liked our chicken and beancurd skin soup maybe because it tasted like it had the ability to 'pu' (nourish) the body but that's just what I think.

Jeffrey's favourite streaky pork slices ($16). I think these layered pork slices tasted better than they look.

This was, in my opinion, the BEST dish of the meal - beancurd crepe ($16). I think this is the Chinese rendition of crepe because the crepe skin is slightly thicker and dough-ier than the crepe used in western cafes/ restaurants. The beancurd has been deepfried till crispy and it is used as filling, along with cucumber and some other vegetable, for this mindblowing crepe dish. You must remember to dip your crepe into the sweet flour sauce to give it an additional kick. It's really good!

Fried chicken meat/ skin ($8). Frankly, I can't remember what this dish is except that it was completely gone by the end of the meal so it couldn't have been bad.

We ordered a steamed garoupa ($130) and the kind waitress helped to divide our fish into smaller portions for consumption. I never knew that a steamed fish dish could cost so much! Thankfully, the fish was fresh and the dish was well cooked on the whole (: I especially liked the sauce that came with this dish.

Apart from the above featured dishes, we also ordered a plate of seafood noodles ($30, not photographed) to share. I think it's safer to go for their noodles instead of rice because their supposedly cooked rice grains are a tad too hard for our liking. This was pretty shocking because plain rice is the last thing that I would imagine going wrong. Hopefully it was a one-time mistake that will not be repeated in future.

For dessert, we had redbean soup ($5/ bowl) and a plate of fresh fruits ($4.50 for 1 person's portion). I must admit that neither of these were what I wanted but because those that I wanted weren't being offered that day, I'd to settle for redbean soup, which was merely average.

On the whole, I think the quality of food served at Jin Shan Lou is definitely above average but I hope that they can continue to improve so that diners can derive more satisfaction after their meals there.

Monday, May 17

Phoenix Indian Restaurant

My family has always been fond of Indian food. I think our liking for Indian food increased when LPP and GT started to buy nasi briyani and its accompanying dishes back home from this relatively famous no-frills Indian Restaurant near Bukit Panjang called Karu's.

A couple of months ago, LPP found out from the people at Karu's that they have expanded and opened a new air-conditioned restaurant at Phoenix Park called Phoenix Indian Restaurant. Being supportive patrons, my parents decided to take us there to pay a visit to their new premise as well as to sample some good Indian food.

Phoenix Indian Restaurant is located at a corner of a row of shop houses in Phoenix Park, which is near Chua Chu Kang. If I'm not wrong, there is a LRT station near to this restaurant so people who don't drive can also make their way to this restaurant.

Apparently, the owners of Karu's and Phoenix Indian Restaurant are quite proud of the interior decoration at their new place. The walls of the Phoenix Indian Restaurant are white with a tinge of blue and there are Indian drawings/ sculptures plastered on the wall. On the whole, I think these interior decorations give the restaurant a more authentic feel and they gave us something to look at while waiting for our dishes to arrive.

Since I've a soft spot for nice table settings, I couldn't help but take a photo of their simple but pleasant looking cutlery set. I love the blue serviette! (:

We had three glasses of their famous lime juice ($2, on left), a glass of orange juice ($3, on right), a glass of mango juice ($2.50, not featured) and soft drinks. Their lime juice is thick and full of flavour. I highly recommend this if you want a change from the usual drinks.

While waiting, we were served complimentary crackers with green paste. The crackers are always a favourite amongst my family members because it is light, non-greasy, slightly salty and very addictive! You can dip your cracker into this green paste, which I think is made of some kind of vegetable/ spice, and you'll have yourself a lovely appetizer!

I can safely say that all the dishes ordered that day were hits and there really wasn't anything unsatisfactory about our entire meal. If you're clueless as to what to order at an Indian Restaurant, perhaps you would like to refer to the information below for some guidance.

Tandoori Chicken ($10). To my knowledge, most chicken lovers who do not take to spicy food like tandoor chicken! The chicken meat is soft and fragrant and it just makes you want to have more of it!

Fish Tikka ($10). This is probably the fish version of tandoori chicken. I really like fish tikka because I think the seasoning complements the tender fish meat very well. I like adding some of the green paste to my fish slices to give them an extra zing!

Garlic Naan ($2.50 per serving, there are two servings in this basket). This was absolutely delightful. So far, we've been to this restaurant a couple of times and this dish always gets annihilated very quickly! It's definitely a must-try!

Briyani rice ($2.50). I think it is necessary to have some rice to go with the rest of the dishes. Otherwise the flavours from the different dishes may prove to be a tad too overpowering.

Mixed vegetables kurma ($6.50). In this bowl lies chopped up long beans, peas, some cauliflower, bits of carrot and some other bits of vegetables swimming in curry broth. The curry isn't very spicy so it makes a good dip for garlic naan, especially for those who cannot take spicy food.

GT wanted to try something mushroomy so we ordered mushruoom mutter masa ($6), which is essentially sliced button mushroom in curry broth. This curry tastes different from the vegetable kurma but I can't exactly pinpoint the difference. I guess you just have to try it to know which you prefer!

This bowl of fish head curry ($22) contains possibly the yummiest dip for naan! The sour and spicy gravy will wake your tastebuds and give them a much desired curry bath. The fish meat is fresh and well-cooked. There's really nothing to dislike about this dish unless you detest fish and your tolerance for spicy stuff is very low. Since the portion is quite big (even though this is the smallest portion they serve), it is wise to order this only when you're in a group or when you are extremely ravenous.

Finally, a bananaboatbowl of mango kulfi ($6), which tasted like extremely rich mango icecream. The sweetness of this dish was a stark contrast to all the savoury and spicy food that came before it and was a great way to end the meal (:

I am pretty sure that my family will be back for more Indian food in the near future. LPP already said that we'll be there in two weeks time to celebrate Nette's homecoming! (: Do drop by Phoenix Indian Restaurant if you would like to have affordable Indian food at reasonable prices! (:

Thursday, May 13

Cafe Beviamo Again

I like snacking when I'm hungry. As I grow older, I realise that people do take time out once in a while to have tea in the afternoons. I've never been accustomed to having tea breaks in the afternoon and I seldom go for high tea (buffets) but I must admit that this culture is slowly growing on me.

If you're in town and you feel like having a drink or a nibble, you can always pop by Cafe Beviamo at Tanglin or Paragon to have a cup of warm beverage or a slice of cake. Quality of food,and service at both outlets are top notch so you needn't worry about whether your splendid afternoon will be ruined by unwelcomed disturbances.

Hot chocolate is always a favourite and I like how this glass of organic hot chocolate definitely sits well with everyone, including those who can't take dairy products!

Alternatively, if you like the taste of chai and would like something a little stronger than hot chocolate, you can have the chai tea latte, which was extremely yummy to me (:

And of course, no tea breaks can go without real FOOD so we ordered a slice of carrot cake to go along with our drinks! The cream cheese topping with carrot shreds really made this slice of cake mouthwateringly good and we are convinced that we will return for tea sessions (:

Perhaps the best thing about Beviamo is that it somehow manages to balance quality and price (there is no service charge!) such that we get good food at decent prices. What more can a diner ask for?

Monday, May 10

Paradise Inn

My brother has been requesting for Japanese food almost every week during our family outing so I was more than thankful when GT decided that we go to Paradise Inn for a change. We went to the outlet at West Coast Plaza because it is nearest to our place.

As you can see from the photo above, Paradise Inn is packed! We had to wait for half an hour for a table at this popular Chinese restaurant. I've been there once before with friends during lunch time on a weekday so it wasn't as packed as this. I think we should make a reservation if we decide to dine here again.

One thing I like about Paradise Inn is its priority in making their place/ dishes presentable. Everything from the interior decoration to the cutlery to the way the dishes are presented is aesthetically pleasing (: I thought their matchy-matchy cutlery set looks very Chinese, especially because of the colour!

While waiting for our food to arrive, we were served these big, soft and fragrant peanuts ($1.50)! There are few Chinese restaurants (or at least those that I've been to) that serve peanuts like that! I really like these 'steamed' peanuts and I happily finished the entire dish of peanuts. Ha!

Because of the crowd, our food took pretty long (about 25minutes) to arrive. However, we were more than placated at the end of the meal because the food served at Paradise Inn is certainly of high quality.

The first dish that came was pork belly with lotus bun (aka 'kong ba bao') ($8.80). My parents commented that this dish isn't comparable to Westlake's but it's still of passable standard. The portion isn't very big so it's a good starter for a meal.

Imperial Pork Ribs ($15). This was slightly above average. I suspect it may be nicer if it were glazed with honey on the outside.

Fried cod fish with beancurd skin ($18). I guess the the fried skin was suppose to bring out the tenderness of the cod fish but I don't think the two went very well with each other. I would have preferred something less fried or cod fish that is covered in a more interesting batter. Nevertheless, the freshness of the fish shone through its fried layers and that was enough for me.

I came to know Paradise Inn through this dish - prawns with salted egg ($24) - because my friend raved and eventually placed an order for this during my first visit. The cook definitely doesn't scrimp on the salted egg coating and the prawns are fresh and juicy. I think everyone who dines here should try this dish.

Mini Wok Tofu ($15). Interesting addition of pork floss topping to the two slices of beancurd that was half-submerged in gravy that has little bits of seafood swimming in it. This dish was a hit because most of us are tofu lovers (: I thought the pork floss boosted the overall taste of the dish in a subtle but noticeable way.

Baby kailan with oyster sauce ($12). This dish was extremely well done! I love well-cooked baby kailans! If you dislike vegetables or if you only want to order one vegetable dish.. this HAS to be the one!

Alternatively, if you are more adventurous and would like something a little more mash-up-ish, you can order Chinese spinach with egg trio ($21). Essentially, it's Chinese spinach cooked with normal eggs, century eggs, salted eggs and some minced meat if I'm not wrong. I think this dish packs a punch and it will definitely sit well with those who like vegetables and eggs with some light gravy. Should give this a try if you can!

I hate to say this but I was too stuffed for dessert after we finished all the food on the table! =( I dislike skipping dessert! Thankfully, GT ordered stewed egg custard (not photographed) ($2.80), which she claims is very nice and we shared it! Now that I know how stewed egg custard tastes like, I'll probably never order it again in my life unless I'm having some strange craving for it. It tastes like sweet chawanmushi and I didn't like it very much. Perhaps I'll grow to like it if I give myself the chance to continue trying it in future.

I think Paradise Inn is a great place for family and friends to gather and enjoy Chinese food of prime quality. I hope to revisit this place again soon!

Alright that's all for now. Have a great week ahead everyone! (: