Food Attack

Food Attack

Featuring The Disgruntled Chef (Dempsey), 4Fingers Crispy Chicken (ION Orchard), VXX Cooperative, Shin-Sapporo Ramen (Orchard Gateway), Mama Panda Kitchen (River Safari), Doi Chaang Coffee (Rochester Mall), 109 Teochew Yong Tau Foo, Kabe no Ana (Jurong Point), Dian Xiao Er 店小二 (Jem), elements & co.
Vanessa Kou
Vanessa Kou

Small and delicate, Le Matin Patisserie’s Lemon Thyme Madeleines ($12.90) were just like warm soft buttery sponges. Baked fresh to order, the texture was best right at the start with a gentle crisp exterior and rather fluffy inside. It gets a little denser as it cools but it doesn’t get dry and the flavour was delightful. Love the herb scent with hints of zest. The accompanying Fir Syrup Cream, a little fruity and citrusy, also sweetened the deal.

Note the items are only available every Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 2:30pm and 6 pm to 9 p.m.

For something savoury, the Crab Waffles ($20.90) was delightfully umami and piquant. The Seafood Butter Waffles were so crisp-crunchy and had a lovely fragrance. However, the best part was the well-seasoned blend in the saucer. Topped with a generous layer of chives, the chilled Crab Tartare and Smoked Taramasalata Dip was pretty creamy and rich with the flavours of the sea. The sweetness of the crustacean goes hand in hand with the salty, silky dip and herbaceous greens.

Note the items are only available every Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 2:30pm and 6 pm to 9 p.m.

Super succulent and moist, the Roast Irish Duck ($22/ Quarter) was another hit. A tad fatty and heavy but the glistening skin had that lovely crackling crispiness. One to share among 3 to 4 people, the protein was really well-executed. Would go great with a steaming bowl of rice.

In the mood for fancy hor fun, The Dragon Chamber’s Wagyu Truffle Beef Hor Fun ($32) ticked all the right boxes for me. Doused in a copious amount of rich truffle gravy; the slurpy noodles were so moreish. The wok fried flat noodles, crispy deep-fried hor fun strips, silky poached egg and slices of premium US Wagyu short rib came together nicely offering a myriad of fun textures. Though the sauce could definitely be more earthy and “truffle-y”, the hot savoury mix was flavourful without being cloying. The beef was tender too and seasoned well.

A spot that often comes to mind when I think of getting some solid and unique gelato flavours with an Asian spin, Tom's Palette’s offerings were as good as I remember. At $5.20 for a single (small) cup, I had the Taiwanese Sesame Brittle and Kueh Bangkit.

Fragrant and nutty, the black sesame gelato was spot on with the lingering toasty flavour. The texture was also rich and smooth. Love that added crunch as well as aromatics from the studded black and white sesame brittle. A little milder in flavour but just as lovely, the Kueh Bangkit was right up my alley. The churned Thai coconut cream, pandan and tapioca flour combo tasted like the real deal. A more melty version of the CNY snack. The delicate coconut flavour was surprisingly refreshing - none too decadent or cloying but deliciously creamy.

While I have been a fan of solo-dining-themed Japanese BBQ restaurants as of late (love you Yakiniku-like), I still appreciate a good old-school Japanese BBQ Restaurant. And here comes my recent visit to Yakinikutei Ao-Chan to celebrate my meat-loving dad’s birthday. A bit of a splurge, the Japanese Wagyu Assorted ($66/ 170g) came with the option of salted or sauce and we went with the former to get the natural beefy flavours. They were indeed well-marbled, robust and cooked pretty quickly on the grill. However, for an affordable (more satisfying) cut, the beef Belly Tender Prime ($22.80) came recommended by the staff. With better value, the rather fatty, (wee bit) thicker cuts arrived nicely seasoned with sauce. We also had the thinly sliced Ox Tongue Prime with Salt and Pepper ($22). I have tried Ox tongue less than a handful of times and generally don’t like it for its usual chewiness but theirs was one of the better ones as the mild-tasting cut was surprisingly melty and succulent. Lastly, we had the Iberian Pork Assorted ($50 / 300g) with cuts of secreto, ton toro and ton toro karubi. They were decadently fatty, moreish and offered up more varied textural bites.

Like a comforting yet elevated home dinner prepared by self-taught chef Jeffrey, Ovenbird was everything I expected and more. The casual one-man restaurant was like a gem hidden in the quiet basement of City Gate. As the sole solo dinner there that evening (I secured the slot very last minute as I chanced upon it just days before; truly a very spontaneous dinner plan for me), chef Jeffrey was a very gracious and attentive host, making sure I left rolling and was bursting at the seams from the Autumn menu ($165).

🐟[Hokkaido Herring (Nishin) vinegared for 2 days & Steamed Monkfish Liver (Ankimo)]

-A great starter to whet one’s appetite; the distinctive, mild salty, oily fish flavour of the herring was superbly balanced. The Chinese monkfish liver steamed with sake broth was also wonderfully done as its meaty texture was two thumbs up! And I love that the mild sweetness came without a trace of fishiness.

🐟[Fried Hokkaido Monkfish Fillets (Anko Karaage)]

-Pretty greasy but the sliced Hiroshima Sudachi helped cut the richness. It was my first-time having monkfish fillets, so the firm, plump, muscular texture was a nice surprise.

🐟[Hokkaido Prowfish (Bouzo Ginnpo) aged 9 days, marinated in Sakekasu & Saikyomiso | Ceps/French Porcini and Girolles Mushrooms]

-Brilliant combination, the little East-meets-West number was so tangy and delicious. Similar to cod, the Prowfish was tender, moist and a fantastic blend of firm-flakey. And oh wow, the crisp crunchy fish skin was so good. Slightly boozy, the alcohol-infused cream sauce was stellar too with the bits of earthy fresh French mushrooms.

🐟[Salted Grilled Kanagawa Beltfish aged 8 days (Tachiuou Shioyaki)]

-Spritzed with sake, the grilled beltfish was a simple and satisfying dish. Not grilled all the way through, the seasoned slice was charmingly fatty and soft.

🐟[Grilled Tsushima Mackerel (Ma Saba) vinegared for 3 days wrapped in nori]

-With the slightly pungent yet bright floral taste of the fresh-grated wasabi to tie all the elements together, the wrap really highlighted the delicate briny flavours of the mackerel.

🐟[Hokkaido Japanese Amberjack Loin (Buri) aged 5 days & Ibaraki Radish (Daikon)]

-Whilst braised radish will always have a special place in my heart, the buri was marvellous, aged amberjack at its finest - melty, fatty, perfectly seasoned thick slices with beautiful crisp seared skin. Though flavours were prominently the very familiar, umami soy-sauce dashi base.

🐟[Prawn Shaped Taro (Ebi Imo), Sakuna Pumpkins (Kabu) and Black Hen of the Woods Mushrooms (Kuro Maitake) simmered in Summer Unagi Eel Sauce, Coho Salmon]

-At this point, I was ready to call it a day but I pushed on. The ebi-imo with its intriguing texture was rather firm, not all that fibrous and none too sweet. A hearty autumn dish with sweet pumpkin and salmon bathing in a slight herbaceous sauce.

🐟[Miyagi Shiogama Blue Fin Tuna (Hon Maguro), Grilled Shimonita Leeks (Negi), Marinated Salmon Roe Sacs (Sujiko), Ibaraki Smoked Daikon Pickles (Iburi-gakko) with Sushi Rice (shari)]

-Going over the top with his idea of a ‘cai peng’ - calling it ‘2 meat 1 veg’; the exquisite bowl was a treat. Apart from the boozy Sujiko which was a bit too much for me, the elements were great. The roughly cut Maguro was amazing - high-quality buttery texture. In place of wasabi, the charred leeks were insanely sharp and kinda spicy yet moreish. And wah, the crunchy, smokey daikon pickles that came in mid-way during the meal was the best part. The unique smoky aroma was so shiok - full-bodied, savoury with a hint of sweetness.

🍐[Seasonal Fruits - Le Lectier & Le France Pears]

Lastly, with space for one more dessert, we settled for the homemade Butter Cake ($12). The crisp-crusted edges were the best part. Selling the whole sweet and savoury, umami combination, the warmed buttery slice also came with Camembert ice cream sprinkled with fried shallots. The mild-tasting quenelle was more milky in my opinion but went surprisingly well with the crunchy strips of shallots.

Bursting with meaty flavours, the Beef Short Ribs ($68) was one for sharing (I'd say they're good for 3-4 people). Quite the fatty cut, the pretty-in-pink protein was served with a gunpowder spice mix and a tangy Middle Eastern Tzatziki sauce. Tender and well-seasoned, each rather thick slice was rich in taste and great on its own even without the condiments. The accompanying charred peppers were a nice balance to the decadent beef but packed a heated punch and really needed the creamy Tzatziki to calm the taste buds.

Moving on to the Bigger Plates, the Pumpkin ($24) was yet another creative number. Paired with leek cream, khong guan biscuits (meant to replace cereal in a way) and teensy bits of chilli, the silky charred pumpkin was wonderfully sweet. The leek sauce was distinct and not too punchy - a nice savoury and creamy contrast to the sweet, earthy slice. However, a little pricey for what you are essentially getting.

The unassuming Seafood Tsukune ($12) was equally fabulous. The lime aioli was the true MVP here. Its refreshing tanginess and mild zesty kick elevated the dish and paired wonderfully with the bite-sized, plump patties. Springy and juicy, the delightful creation had a lovely savoury touch (probably from the seared exteriors) and captured the essence of the sea. An elevated fish cake-meat ball hybrid of sorts (and I mean it in the best way possible).

Just in time before their next menu rotation, I finally made my way to Pilot Kitchen last weekend (21 October)! Blowing us away straight from the start, the Homemade Milk Bun ($8) was to die for, to be specific, the house special butter was stellar. Aromatic, smooth and oh-so-flavourful, the Japanese Curry Butter had the right amount of spice and the perfect balance of sweet and savoury (please sell it by the jar, I will buy it in a heartbeat). The buns were so soft, airy, super fluffy and moist - making them the unanimous favourite at the table. What comforting dinner rolls!

2 Moods: Hangry & Sleepy [Instagram: @vanessa_kou]

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