Spaghett-ular

Spaghett-ular

The list where you find me having a rare plate of pasta.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Pretty new to the cafe scene of the late is Amika Cafe and Bar; taking over the former premises of Two Bakers at Teck Chye Terrace, Amika Cafe & Bar is located a few a couple of bus stops away from NEX, Serangoon MRT Station and Serangoon Bus Interchange. For those whom have visited Two Bakers at this location previously, the interior of Amika Cafe & Bar remains pretty much the same as what it was during the tenancy of the previous operator. Despite being largely similar to what it was previously, the placement of the furnishings do somewhat differ — gone is the cake display that used to be placed near the entrance at some point of time; there is also a side table near the entrance that has some Thai ornaments on display. Being pretty much a cafe and bar, Amika’s menu features starters/sharing plates, all-day brunch items and mains — some of which carrying a Thai influence such as that of the Spicy Tamarind Pork Pasta and the Zaap Fries that we have ordered; other more westernised items that are available here includes the Rosti Sausage and Amika Burger; just to name a few. Beverages at Amika Cafe and Bar are largely limited to non-alcoholic ones — a little surprising considering how they do call themselves a bar; patrons can expect a variety of specialty coffee, tea and mocktails available here.

Of the various mains that are available at Amika Cafe & Bar, it was clear that the Spicy Tamarind Pork Pasta had already caught our attention as we skimmed through the menu before deciding to head in. The Spicy Tamarind Pork Pasta consists of elements such as spaghetti that is tossed in a homemade spicy tamarind sauce that is mildly spicy with grilled marinated Kurobuta Pork. First taste of the pasta and we liked how the pasta is done al-dente; the pasta being coated with the savoury yet tangy tamarind sauce that can be said to be similar to that of an Assam sauce with some depth — the sauce being suitably spicy and should do fine even for those who have a low tolerance to spiciness. The Kurobuta Pork Belly is well-marinated; savoury whilst being pretty gelatinous around the fatty parts — does require some effort to chew but it is still juicy and considerable tender. An item that is pretty unique, and something which one would probably be not able to find elsewhere.

The closure of Two Bakers at Teck Chye Terrace may be said as a loss to the residents around Serangoon for a spot that serves pretty decent brunch and bakes in the neighbourhood; that being said, Amika Cafe and Bar does fill up this void rather decently — not only do they serve up what most would consider usual brunch fare at a decent price point (most all-day brunch items and main fall below $22 here), they do have some items that does seem rather unique here. No doubt that are better cafes around the island, but Amika Cafe & Bar would probably cut it for those staying around the area who is looking for a hangout in their own neighbourhood for a leisurely brunch over the weekend.

A few newly-opened cafes have been making their rounds across social media recently and one of them is Blue Balls Cafe — a bike-themed cafe that is situated at 44 Pasir Panjang Road. For those whom are unfamiliar with the area, the cafe takes up a stand-alone space with the same grounds as Anytime Fitness Pasir Panjang, and is located pretty close by to the Pasir Panjang outpost of Eat 3 Bowls as well. Having an al-fresco dining area that is pretty much only sheltered by an awning, as well as an outdoor dining area apart from the main indoor dining hall, the al-fresco dining area does seem to be pet-friendly, whilst patrons who are less keen to sit in the area can actually choose to sit in the outdoor area that is accessible through the indoor dining hall. The cafe does exude some industrial vibes with the large use of brick walls and cemented floors, as well as the mix of metallic and wooden furnishing and fittings — does somewhat remind us a little of Wheeler’s Yard where a similar approach was used as well; from the colours of the walls to the hanging of the bicycle parts. Walking into the dine-in area, one is greeted by a display rack of biking apparel that showcases the items available for retail; on the other side, the display chiller is stocked with the cakes and wraps available for the day. The menu here features hot food ranging from mains (mostly meat, fish or poultry dishes), burgers and pastas, as well as soup and salads, bites that are good to share at the table, and a small selection of desserts. Beverages include smoothies, specialty coffee, teas from Teapigs Tea from UK and canned drinks; just to name a few.

While one can argue that a lot of thought was placed in the decor and environment of the cafe, the food could be said as something that probably has some room for improvement. While the Grand Tour Fish & Chips that we had was rather uninspiring, the Echelon Mussels Pasta left a slightly better impression. Featuring elements such as mussels, white wine, butter, garlic, chili, parsley and linguine, the broth that the linguine was tossed in had that slight alcoholic zing that made it taste pretty close to a rather decent Vongole — all that spiked with a bit of spiciness coming from the bird’s eye chili that they have included for the kick. That being said, we felt that the noodles could do with a bit more cooking time for that truly al-dente texture, while the quality of the mussels could admittedly been better since the quality just seemed to vary between the pieces that were in our plate.

A lot of the hype on Blue Balls Cafe seems to be placed on the interior — no doubt a very conducive environment which we found ourselves enjoying and even staying for longer than we would usually. Whilst we only tried a select few items off their menu, we felt that their offerings seem a little generic and just doesn’t seem to be made to impress — probably something that may appease the most basic of taste buds, though mostly a tad off for the seasoned cafe hopper. Nonetheless, they have done quite a good job with the interior here; something that is likely to attract avid cafe hoppers as well as bike enthusiasts alike — though one should manage their expectations on the food which could do with more attention to details here.

Was scrolling through social media pages and found the accounts of the newly-opened Armenor located at 7 Purvis Street — the establishment has taken over the former premises of Santa Fe Tex-Med Grill, and is a “casual modern European restaurant” that aims to give classic European cuisine a modern twist. The interior has seen a total revamp from its former tenant; with a more bistro-style setting, the design language can be said to be of a modern chic style — concrete-esque walls with wooden fittings and a brick-esque look for its bar counter, the suede cushioned seats do add up to the other furnishings for a slightly upscale sort of vibe. Plants also adorn the interior for a feel that makes the space seem closer to nature, whilst the yellow hue for its lighting is warm to the eyes, yet dim enough to create that sort of “classy” atmosphere. The menu at Armenor comprises of sections dedicated to Entree, Soup & Salad, Appetisers, Beef, Pasta, Pizza, Dessert and Kid’s Menu — small bites are also offered here; items which are good to pair alongside their extensive beverages menu that comprises of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options where the latter includes milkshakes, coffee and mocktails just to name a few. Prices of the pasta here are at $25 before service charge, while the pizza are priced at $20 before service charge — the beef ranging from $33 to $45 before service charge; pretty in-line with their focus on providing a menu at a more accessible price point.

Of all the dishes which we had tried, the Classic Carbonara was the one which we found to be pretty memorable. Featuring elements such as Guanciale Cured Pork, Fresh Egg, Spaghetti, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Black Pepper, the Classic Carbonara is done in a way that is authentically Italian — purists will note how there isn’t any cream nor bacon used here; just egg, pork cheek, cheese and pepper all done with the sauce being reduced to a point where there is enough to coat the pasta. While the Classic Carbonara here checks all of the boxes of a traditional Carbonara, we enjoyed how the noodles were done just al-dente here carrying just the right bite — each strand of noodle being sufficiently coated by the eggy sauce. What we really liked was how the Guanciale Cured Pork provided (which they were also pretty generous with) had a sort of flavour that was typical of Chinese waxed meat — incredibly savoury on its own but gives the eggy pasta a hint of meatiness from its fats that was especially delicious; also provided some form of chew as a textural contrast as well. Those seeking for an authentic Carbonara would most likely be satisfied with the one served here at Armenor — pretty surprised how this item wasn’t actually listed as a Chef’s Recommendation given it’s quality.

Overall the experience at Armenor is a pretty pleasant one; for one, the environment is pretty soothing and warm but we note that the service here is on-point (though it may also be possible that they had the time to since we were pretty much the only table there for the night) — friendly staff who are genuinely into making connections with their patrons through small talk and also gathering constructive feedback, which made our visit especially welcoming. Food here is also genuinely decent; no doubt there are some items such as the Tricolour Panna Cotta that requires a bit of fine-tuning to achieve some sort of balance between the various elements, but there are also items such as the Classic Carbonara that deserves a mention. Let’s just say that Armenor is a spot that works for dates, family dinners and even a night’s out after work alike — would really like to see them uphold the same level of hospitality as time passes; not a lot of places do make their guests feel at home at this price point, but this is something that Armenor does seem to do well at that sets a difference against other establishments out there.

Han’s is pretty much a brand that I do have a love-hate relationship with; it’s a favourite with my folks, and whilst I did belong to the era of kids who actually had it once in a while where my parents wanted to dine in air-conditioned comfort yet have local fare at the same time back int those days, we are now pretty much at a time where there are plenty of other options that we can go for at the same price point where satisfaction might be better met. The opening of the Thomson-East Coast Line had made a visit to Han’s a little bit more convenient, considering they are just situated outside Springleaf MRT Station — the outlet itself being a Han’s Union one where patrons can also order items from their other brands such as ĀTO as well.

Not sure how true this statement is, but it seems that Han’s Union had recently started to serve up an outlet exclusive menu that features plant-based items — not that we have seen this menu served at their other usual Han’s or Hanis outlets but we could be wrong. While the menu does feature other items that includes plant-based meat such as a Chicken Stew with Truffle and the Lemak Burger, what caught our eyes was the Pappardelle Al' Funghi with Truffle Butter, which is described in the menu as “Classic italian pasta with homemade cream sauce, topped with mushrooms and
fragrant truffle butter”. There was also an on-going promotion during our visit, where each main will come served with a drink, soup (Cream of Mushroom) and garlic bread on the side. Whilst my previous experiences of Han’s cream pasta dishes is usually an immensely rich and sinful ordeal (a guilty pleasure of mine, since I grew up being fond of such pastas in the past), this one was not too jelak in comparison — it is sufficiently creamy without being overly thick; perhaps so from the infusion of the truffle butter that gave it a slight hint of savouriness apart from the hint of truffle that perfumes throughout the dish lightly. The Pappardelle was slightly too soft for my liking; feels a tad overdone with the texture coming pretty close to Kway Teow somewhat — there again, I don’t think regular patrons of Han’s and their various concepts would have been too bothered with this. One thing i particularly enjoyed with this dish is how it comes with quite a decent portion of assorted mushrooms — all of them gave a good bouncy bite but I liked how there is varying contrasts of earthiness from the shimeiji to the shiitake; pretty much shook up the otherwise rather boring plate of pasta for me. Also, kudos to the folks at Han’s Union for the plating of this dish — not the prettiest, but definitely one of the more presentable dishes that I have seen from them though it is also known that some of the dishes here do bear a different plating from that of the usual Han’s and Hanis concepts.

To be fair, I am not one who would turn into a Han’s establishment as a meal option — there was one around the office until pretty much recently and I had never visited them ever. That being said, having visited Han’s Union several times, this is one spot I wouldn’t mind visiting considering the proximity from me, and how the food quality does seem to be beyond that of their other outlets, whilst also being one of their most comfortable outlets around as well. Wouldn’t say that the Pappardelle Al' Funghi with Truffle Butter is a must try, but it is worth considering for something that is pretty decent for those who are not too picky overall.

Quite excited to drop by the new Oaks Coffee Co. that had recently opened its doors at Upper Thomson Road; the new coffeehouse is located along the same stretch of shophouses where Hello Arigato is. For those whom are pretty familiar around the neighbourhood, the spot that Oaks Coffee Co. occupies is the same exact spot where Habitat Coffee was before their move to King George’s Avenue. Serving up different menus for lunch and dinner service, the brunch menu features dishes with a fusion touch amidst other more contemporary cafe fare like pasta, muesli, cheese toasties and brunch plates — think items such as the Beef Rendan Burger and Laksa Orzo Pasta, while the dinner menu is more communal featuring starters and sharing plates. Being a coffeehouse at heart, there is a selection of specialty coffee (including their in-house concoctions such as the Fizzy Espresso Yuzu), tea and even wines available for choices of beverages here.

Being someone who is on a lookout for dishes featuring Orzo (items that I recall having the specific type of pasta include the Beef & Grains from the now-defunct Sin Lee Foods), the Laksa Orzo Pasta was one that piqued quite some interest in me even before I headed here. The item features Tiger Prawns, Clams, Salmon Roe, Tau Pok, Coconut Ice Cream, Laksa Leaf — a rather unorthodox combination of elements considering how the item is a combination of hot-and-cold, whilst also lacking the strands of noodles which have been replaced by Orzo — pasta grains shaped like rice. Liked how there is sufficient “gravy” going around the sauce; it was also pretty “lemak”; rich and carried evident notes of the spices, while the coconut ice-cream provided on the side was velvety smooth and further enhanced the texture of the whole dish. The Orzo grains also carried a good bite; liked how they have portioned it well so it doesn’t really get overwhelming here. The taupok included were dehydrated; carrying a texture almost akin to that of croutons, while the seafood included such as the clams and prawns were fresh — the latter carrying a natural sweetness. Liked how they also included the Salmon Roe here, which helped to give it a slightly umami-ness that strangely compliments the whole dish.

Also took the opportunity try out the Chrysanthemum Jello for a dessert to end off the meal, as well as the Creamy White Cold Brew which is a bottled cold brew with cream and milk — the former is a refreshing dessert evident floral notes, while the latter comes slightly sweetened and is everything nutty and rich. While the Upper Thomson Road neighbourhood is filled with a myriad of cafes of the old (i.e. One Man Coffee, Colombus Coffee Co.) and that of the new (i.e. Hello Arigato), Oaks Coffee Co. is an apt addition to the coffee scene here — liked how they do carry quite a good selection of inventive dishes (that also work) and some safer items to cater to a wide variety of patrons. They are currently still in their soft launch phase, so do expect some teething issues but I am pretty certain that they will get things sorted out soon — a spot to add to the list of cafes that one should check out!

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Stirling Road seems to be much of favourite for cafes these days for those who have chosen to open at Queenstown — the folks of Mixsense Private Dining had recently moved into Blk 169 Stirling Road within the estate of Stirling View, operating as Sin & Savage Bakehouse; their shop space being located just beside that of Creatr., which is a collaboration between Three’s a Crowd Cafe and MasterChef Singapore Season 2 runner-up, Leon Lim. Apart from serving up the artisan donuts which Mixsense Private Dining is known for, Sin & Savage Bakehouse also serves up a variety of bakes, whilst also serving a hot food menu that comprises of breakfast platters, salads, appetisers, mains and pasta as well; a perfect one-stop cafe to have a meal and grab some treats for tea-time.

The Orecchiette really got to me as I was craving for a good plate of pasta, and the option just quite stood out from the rest as being an uncommon option against the other pastas they have to offer. Featuring elements such as smokey spiced beef, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach, the pasta has also been tossed with some cheese as well. Taking a spoonful of everything at one go, everything seemed to have gone pretty well here — while the orecchiette here isn’t made in-house, it was done just right; al-dente with a slightly chewier texture in the centre for some bite. Stringy, melted cheese helps to bind several of the ingredients in parts for a savoury note, but it is the smokey spiced beef that brings this notch above being a well-made Beef Bolognese pasta — savoury, but not gamey, yet smoky bits of minced beef laces the pasta, it also carried hints similar to chili minced beef being tossed in chili oil just for a tinge of spiciness to tickle the tastebuds. The cherry tomatoes gives a refreshing burst of zestiness when chewed upon; providing for much of a flavour and textural contrast for the pasta. While some may lament on how the pasta may be a tad oily from the chili oil, we found the Sakura Green Tea (served as the Hot Artisanal Tea of the Day) adequate to cut through all of the grease and cleansed the palate well.

Pretty impressed with the food that Sin & Savage Bakehouse is serving — not only was the Yuzu Citron Tart that we had pretty much on point, but we were also pleasantly surprised by how they seem to also serve up some pretty delicious hot food here. If one is in Queenstown craving for some cafe/bistro fare; Sin & Savage Bakehouse is certainly the spot to hit — a location that one should definitely check out at least for once!

Depot Heights Shopping Centre seem to be pretty bustling with the new cafes that have sprouted up in the neighbourhood shopping centre of the late — apart from Mad Roasters which has recently opened here, there is also the new Bailey & Whiskey that operates an even larger space towards one end of the mall. The sprawling space, named after the owner’s cats, is warm, cosy and inviting — filled with random mismatched furniture and decor that is close to nature; a welcoming change from the pristine, clean and minimalist cafes of today. The menu items served here are rather basic, featuring items such as pasta, burger, open-faced toasts etc., while also offering bakes and cakes seemingly sourced from suppliers whilst offering specialty coffee, tea and milkshakes for beverages.

Wasn’t feeling all that brunch-y so decided to go for their Carbonara — whilst most Carbonara elsewhere usually involve the use of ham or some sort of cured meat, it is interesting to note that the Carbonara served at Bailey & Whisky comes with a choice of protein — either prawn or salmon. Purists may point out how the Carbonara probably isn’t the dry sort, but I guess the creamy Carbonara still has some sort of appeal with other folks out there. The Carbonara here is nothing short of being creamy — whilst coming with linguine, the linguine felt that it was done a little past al-dente, but I could see how some people may like it done this way. It also comes accompanied with bits of mushrooms and some greens for a wholesome feel; the chunks of salmon does come with a rather distinct note typical of the fish that goes particularly well with the dish; a twist to the usual savoury note of cured meat that is found in Carbonara.

With a tagline that says “when you’re here, you are family”, Bailey & Whisky does feed their patrons like family — hearty portions with an emphasis on wholesome fare, the food here seems nothing short of broth comforting and homey; comforting dishes that is great for the soul. Needless to say, Bailey & Whisky is that sort of spot to hit for those looking for a conducive spot to get some work done alone, as much as it is somewhere for a brunch date with couples and a family-friendly cafe for young families alike (especially after the lifting on dine-in restrictions of two pax) — sincere and unpretentious as they are.

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Visited the new Evan’s Kitch — one of the newest F&B establishments to have opened at Citygate just a short walk away from Nicoll Highway MRT Station — while the mall itself does feel like a maze and may be a little hard to navigate, Evan’s Kitch is located around the same corner where Lobster Air is, occupying the unit just beside them. It is said that Chef Evan, who is the chef-owner of Evan’s Kitch, has had work experience in hotel restaurants and cafes for 16 years, and the menu features a rather wide variety of dishes ranging from all-day breakfast, “Fancy Toast”, salad and soup, mains and burgers, pasta and rice dishes as well as desserts. Evan’s Kitch also serves up beverages ranging from specialty coffee and tea to floats, but it is the artisanal cold brew coffee and tea that are the unique offerings here.

Coming with elements such as cherry tomatoes, chili flakes, spring egg, spring onion, parmesan cheese and Furikake, the Spaghetti Pork Stew Stock with Japanese Char Siew Pork Belly is essentially their rendition of the Japanese ramen that sees a fusion element with pasta — served in a somewhat “dry” format much like how pasta should be. Whilst the price tag of $26 may seem a little steep for an establishment like that, it seems to be all about the execution here — the spaghetti is served al-dente, but comes laced in a pork stew stock that is lightly savoury; probably one that is of the soy sauce base so it’s pretty appetising to get that slight hint of saltishness around. If one is looking for a creamy and richer texture, they can simply break that onsen egg — the molten egg yolk comes with a deep orange hue almost akin to that of organic eggs that some places serve with their Eggs Benedict; mix everything all up for that silken texture that further elevates the mouthfeel of dish. Otherwise, we were also pretty impressed with the Japanese Char Siew Pork Belly — rather than taking the usual Japanese Char Siew, I really loved how they have sorta tuned the dish towards the preferences of most locals by using the pork belly instead; they are also really generous with the portions here considering the thick cuts. Not only were that melt-in-the-mouth tender without carrying much of that undesirable porky stench, but I really enjoyed how it comes slightly crusted from the grilling process — provides for the slightly crisp exterior that adds on to the texture with a slightly smoky note.

Evan’s Kitch may like seem a little pricey on first sight — the prices of the mains on the menu ranges from $18 to $38, with most items priced past the $20 mark; a little higher than some specialty coffee establishments may ask for. That being said, it is evident from the execution of the dishes we have had that Evan’s Kitch is a spot with some potential — they do serve up rather inventive fusion fare that is worth looking into (they have mentioned the dishes featuring Japanese Char Siew Pork Belly and North Malaysia Beef Rendang as signatures) whilst also serving more conventional Western and brunch fare. Portions are also on the bigger side, which kinda resonates with the slightly higher prices as well. A spot that is worth giving a shot once to see if it hits your palate!

Having passed by D’Pasta Hero quite a number of times during those random walks that I like to make between Marsiling to home, they have been a spot that I have been waiting to visit for a while — though the coffeeshop that it is located at can be quite difficult to locate for those that aren’t familiar with the area (they are in the same coffeeshop as t香港街珍达记 881 XO 鱼头米粉 at Blk 306A Woodlands Street 31). The stall can’t be more striking however; fitted with a signboard which features yellow text over blue background, a superhero motif for its logo and neon lights on the wall, one could easily spot this fairly new stall pretty easily that stands out from the entire outlook of the coffeeshop. D’ Pasta Hero’s menu is actually rather extensive for the sort of stall it is — not only do they serve up a whole lineup of pastas where patrons are able to choose from the pasta type and opt for addons, but they also do have sides such as Truffle Fries, Fried Chicken Wings and even Mussels in White Wine Sauce whilst offering soups and burgers as well.

Tom Yum Seafood Pasta has been making their rounds at various western food establishments these days, but I like how the pasta options here do include more uncommon ones such as Farfalle which I ended up opting for. The Tom Yum Seafood Pasta features elements such as prawn, squid, mussel, garlic, lemongrass, red chili flakes and a creamy tom yum sauce. Truth to be told, this was in fact one of the least creamy Tom Yum pastas I have ever had when it comes down to the sauce — this was more akin to the creamy Tom Yum of mama noodles rather than the usual Tom Yum cream pasta often found in similar establishments; it’s nothing short of being zippy and flavoursome with a evident refreshing note from the lemongrass as well, whilst not being particularly spicy so those with low tolerance for spiciness will be able to enjoy it as much as I did. The pasta was done al-dente; comes with a good bite while the variety of seafood was of decent quality for the price (the basic item costs only $6.90) — pretty fresh and seemingly better than some other coffeeshop stalls serving up western cuisine overall.

Given its relatively hidden location within Woodlands, D’ Pasta Hero is undoubtedly one of those uncovered gems in the neighbourhood — while the customisability of the pasta here certainly takes the cake considering how patrons are able to pick between the type of pasta and go for add-on ingredients such seafood and proteins, it is the execution of the pastas with the quality of the ingredients used for its price point that won us over. We were pretty impressed with the various dishes we have had — perhaps even probably one of the best places for pasta in a coffeeshop in Woodlands; one that is a rarity in the North. A spot that we are looking forward to re-visiting to try the other items they have on the menu; the Pesto, Pork Bolognese and Spicy Chicken Pasta being the items which we have our eyes on for any subsequent visits made here!

I am usually not a fan of neighbourhood bars but having seen some photos of the food from Habits, and given how the place that we initially wanted to hit for dinner ended up being closed unexpectedly for the day, we found ourselves being here — and thankfully we did, because little did we know that we would be able to find such gastronomical affair in a bar filled with neon lights and patio tables with a dimly-lit interior.

We have had three items here and I will go as far to say that we were left impressed by all the three; that being said I would think that the Korean Pasta impressed us in more ways than one here — described to have come with elements such as Jeyuk (Pork), Kimchi and Parmesan. Unlike most Korean Pasta that usually seem to draw heavier flavours from Kimchi, I liked how the Korean Pasta here seems to have a light cream base almost akin to the classic Carbonara; the kimchi only adding a slight savoury-tang that tickles the tastebuds and creating a juicy crunch that makes things so ever intriguing with every twirl of the pasta — nothing overly creamy or jelak, nor overly sour, making it pretty addictive on its own. I was most impressed by the Jeyuk; whilst there was this uncanny resemblance to bulgogi pork, what really surprised us was how tender they were; all that whilst devoid of any undesirable porky stench and being pretty savour with a hint of smokiness from the char.

It’s easy to pass by Habits and deem it as a regular bar given its rather flashy outlook, but I like how they seem to defy every bit of that characteristic for those who would venture into the unknown. Here, Habits have very much ditched that association of bars that usually serve albeit uninspiring finger food; instead, the quality of the dishes on their menu surpasses that of some cafes even — being more towards a gastro-bar without the hefty price tag (most of the food falls around the price tag of $12 to $18, with only a few items that passes $18 with the most expensive dish being priced at $24.90) and a rather interesting location that is out-of-town. Such establishments aren’t really quite my thing, but I must say the Habits is a place that I am really keen on revisiting again for how they do their food so well (and that is something I thought I would never say) — a hidden gem for those who are near the Springleaf area that is worth making a trip for!

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Opened pretty recently at The Star Vista, Dewgather Is a new cafe that has taken over the former premises of the now-defunct A-One Claypot House outlet within the mall — the cafe is pretty moderately-sized, and does have an indoor and outdoor dining space. The cafe serves up a pretty sizeable menu, which includes sides, salads and mains apart from specialty coffee and other beverages — they also do carry an exclusive selection of cakes which they have collaborated with Nesuto Cakes (yes, the same Nesuto at Tras Street) on the menu.

The Dew Swordfish Pasta comes with elements such as Linguine, Parmesan Cheese, Rocket Salad, Baby Capers, Chilli, Lemon, Thai Basil, Tarragon Emulsion and Olive Oil. Described to be a pasta that is supposed to be light on the tastebuds, it is also interesting to see how the swordfish comes fully-cooked here instead of the usual Tataki-style (i.e. lightly seared) that would appease to those who do not necessarily prefer sashimi-style fish. Felt that the entire dish, whilst served warm, seemingly carried a salad-like feel — the lack of any usual sauce base for the pasta except for the lemon places it somewhat on the same scale as an Aglio Olio (especially considering how the dish came with chili padi) but with a twist. The slight lemony zing of the pasta surprisingly works well with the swordfish that carries a note seemingly similar to that of mackerel — the swordfish being sliced the same way as it would be as if it were to be done Tataki-style; the zing from the lemon cutting through the usual fishiness of the swordfish and provides for some contrast. The rocket salad is likely added to provide a wholesome balance to dish with the addition of some greens, while the shaved parmesan cheese was supposedly added for a savoury contrast. The pasta was done al-dente, while a bite on the chili provides for that spicy kick that tingles the taste buds.

Being an item created with their own twist, the Dew Swordfish Pasta is their innovative take on a pasta dish being served in a cafe — whilst many cafes do serve up pasta, the Dew Swordfish Pasta is a rather refreshing take given its salad-like approach. That being said, I did feel that the dish lacked a certain herb-y note (think Pesto) that could further elevate the flavours. Wasn’t quite a fan of the Cold Brew (White) as well — felt like it was a milder Cold Brew (Black) served with just a splash of milk; lacks the richness of the typical rich and creamy cold brews other specialty cafes serve up, and with an odd colour that seemingly looked more Ice Lemon Tea-esque than a cold brew coffee with milk. That being said, Dewgather is one of the few indie cafes that is conveniently situated within a mall — one of those locations that office workers, students and even hipsters would likely add to their list of visit, and even works out as a convenient location for catch-ups with friends over the weekends without having to head to town.

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Came across the new Pasta & Co via social media and decided to check them out after work since they were relatively close by to the office at Fortune Centre, which had taken over the former premises of Create Heathy Lifestyle right beside the escalator on Level 2.

Whilst offering quite a number of sides and a small selection of desserts on their menu, the highlight at Pasta & Co is undoubtedly their pasta dishes — patrons have quite a variety of styles to choose from, ranging from Italian classics such as the Carbonara to fusion pasta like the Mentaiko, and the Laksa pasta. Something worth mentioning about Pasta & Co is the choices of pasta itself — making their pasta painstakingly from scratch, patrons would be able to enjoy and opt from a range of handmade pasta such as the Roasted Capsicum with Paprika Spaghetti, Beetroot Fusilli, Pumpkin Rigatoni and Squid Ink Tagliatelle for most of the dishes that they have to offer.

The Truffle Cacio e Pepe is listed as the first item on the menu — also the only pasta here that comes with a default pasta which is not made in-house. While the wait staff had introduced the pasta used as an “Italian-style Maggie Mee” for a bit of local context for an easier conceptualisation of the type of pasta used, the Fusilli Lunghi is nothing close to the Maggie Mee in terms of texture — perhaps only resembling so in its spiral shape that is broader than the Maggie Mee we are used to seeing. Tossed in their secret pepper mix, and coming with various cheeses such as Parmigiana and Pecorino Cheese and a dash of truffle oil, I really liked what I was getting — al-dente pasta that came slightly softer than usual with a chew, the pasta used was also able to lace up all of that cheese and pepper sauce for a savoury, yet peppery hint of flavours. The peppery notes were further enhanced when one chews on the pepper beads — it doesn’t come unbearably spicy, but does release the white pepper’s usual pungency that perfumes throughout the tastebuds amidst the slight truffle aroma from the truffle oil, whilst also giving the pasta a nutty texture akin to that of chewing on a nut.

Given how the dish went, we left Pasta & Co pretty impressed with the Truffle Cacio e Pepe. No doubt it was a little bit of a bummer since we were not able to opt for any of the handmade pasta for this dish (which is also seemingly the focal point around the establishment), but the Truffle Cacio e Pepe is a great rendition of a classic Italian pasta that makes us pretty excited on trying the other fusion pasta that they have to offer. Whilst the dine-in area within the establishment is a little small, I have noticed how they seem to also have an extra dine-in space by the escalator where a florist used to be — the dine-in area is also shared between other tenants in the vicinity such as Hangawi Korean Food and La Teh Cafe. It is always interesting to see such great establishments land in non-descript buildings — not to mention how it is pretty conveniently located near the workplace for me; a spot that I am looking forward to return to check out what else they have to offer. Here’s wishing them all the best in what has to come — it’s certainly not an easy period for F&B businesses thus far, and I do hope that they will be able to come out of the tunnel when all of this ends!

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