Pizz Please ~

Pizz Please ~

It’s time for pizza!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Strangers’ @ Work has been around for quite a long while by now — located at the ground floor of Change Alley, Strangers’ @ Work are by the very same folks who have brought us Strangers’ Reunion, Curious Palette and Wakey Wakey; a pretty evident face considering how they bear quite a similar namesake to Strangers’ Reunion. Whilst Curious Palette and Wakey Wakey shares quite the popularity of the equally successful Strangers’ Reunion, Strangers’ @ Work is much like the forgotten middle child — being the smallest establishment of the lot that operates only on weekdays given its location in the Central Business District, Strangers’ @ Work is probably the least known establishment of the lot. Decked out pretty much in a raw and industrial vibe that would have looked the part when they had first opened their doors back then, the vibes at Strangers’ @ Work are unmistakably “Strangers’ Reunion”. That being said, the menu is fairly restricted considering the size of its food preparation area here; for a start, the only hot food options available here would be their sandwiches, while the list of beverages would be centred around their specialty coffee offerings — think espresso-based coffee, as well as alternatives such as bottled cold brew coffee, hot chocolate, tea and tea lattes as well.

We cannot exactly remember if we ever had their toasties previously — we have been visiting Strangers’ @ Work on-and-off periodically over the years and have recalled that their sandwich / toasties menu is not exactly always available during our few visits there thus far. That being said, it does seem that the sandwich menu has seen a revamp at least from our last visit — the sandwich menu features quite a few items that caught our attention; think Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Meatball Marinara etc., while all the sandwiches do come with freshly-baked sourdough focaccia.

Our Kimchi & Spam Melt came with grilled spam, spicy kimchi, melted aged cheddar, fresh herbs and aioli — the sandwich is also toasted on a panini grill, and pressed as part of the preparation process. Taking a bite into the Kimchi & Spam Melt, we thought that the sandwich is pretty much soul food at its best — the sourdough focaccia was thankfully not too dense; having gone through the panini press, the bread was compacted to give a firm bite with a toasty crisp on the surface but we liked how how it wasn’t heavy or felt carb-intensive. The Sourdough Focaccia also carried a light tangy note from the fermentation process of the bread — pretty much like what one would expect from the usual sourdough. In between, all the elements are served hot as well; a consistent temperature running through from the bread to everything else that is sandwiched in the middle — the grilled spam sliced in pretty sizeable slices so that one gets that savouriness of cured meat with a good bite without overwhelming the tastebuds. The spicy kimchi wasn’t exactly that spicy — would work well with those who have lower tolerance to spiciness in general; the cabbage kimchi provided a refreshing, tangy crunch that cuts through the carbs and meat, while the melted aged cheddar provides for that slight oozy chewiness that melds all the elements together.

Despite being the relatively unknown child from the folks whom have brought us Strangers’ Reunion, Curious Palette and Wakey Wakey, Strangers’ @ Work has probably provided some form of comfort and consistency to the folks of the Central Business District. Having been around for a long period of time, we would reckon that Strangers’ @ Work have probably established relationships with its regulars over the years and has a loyal following amongst the office folks working in the area. The quality of coffee at Strangers’ @ Work has been consistent over the years — sometimes even surpassing that of the same that is being served at their sister establishments; we were also glad to see the return of dine-in cups here considering that we have recalled them using disposable cups only for all orders for quite a while (or we might have mistaken). With the introduction of the relatively new sandwich offerings, it does seem that Strangers’ @ Work does still know what they are doing and keeping up to speed with things — even so when there have not been any significant revamps done to the shop space to give it a refreshed look over the years; the quality of the sandwiches are also what one would expect from an established name that is part of the third-wave coffee movement serving up brunch items. Whilst the sandwiches are no doubt a little pricey at $10.90 to $12.90, we do feel that they carry a quality which we would most certainly pay the price for. For those working in the Central Business District whom are into the local cafe culture and have yet to discover this gem — it is probably time to really check them out!

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Heard the hype that has been surrounding Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak which had just recently opened its doors at the second level of Amoy Street Food Centre — the stall being situated just right opposite the aisle across from Harry’s Eurasian Pies. Having opened its doors on a week that we were not in office, the stall has since been featured on 8 DAYS Eat just several days back, and the stall has since been seeing a sizeable queue ever since with office folks whom have been lining up to give their Nasi Lemak a try. Whilst Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak does list a variety of Nasi Lemak with different meat options to choose from such as that of the Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak, Mutton Rendang Nasi Lemak and the Sambal Cuttlefish Nasi Lemak being available, it seems that the folks at Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak has kept the selection to just simply the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak on the day of our visit — perhaps to keep things simple since the stall was manned by a single guy when we made our visit. The menu also lists several ala-carte adding that are available, though we note that these were also not offered during the day we made our visit as well.

One look at the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak offered at Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak and one would be able to tell how Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak takes on the style of the same offered at Village Park Nasi Lemak that originates from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia which has been replicated by several establishments locally such as that of The Coconut Club (previously located at Ann Siang Hill, and now located at Beach Road), Uptown Nasi Lemak (located within the coffeeshop at 121 Telok Ayer Street which also houses Supercurry and Egg Tarts by Tung Patisserie) as well as Wild Coco (located at McNair Road). This Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak comprises of a chicken leg, egg, Ikan Bilis, peanut and chilli. The chicken leg included in the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak does remind us of the usual Ayam Goreng Berempah (i.e. Crispy Spiced Fried Chicken) which comes with the variants that are served at The Coconut Club, Uptown Nasi Lemak and Wild Coco — while we note that some parts of the chicken leg was less juicy than the others, we still found the chicken leg to be decently executed; not quite as fragrant as those serving up Nasi Lemak with the chicken leg in the same style, but still carried a notable hint of lemongrass and ginger with a crisp exterior for a good texture. We did however also notice the lack of fried crumbs being plated on the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak here — something that we wished that they had not overlooked considering how it typically adds on the texture of the rice. The rice itself fell a little bit short in terms of fragrance as well; the texture of the rice is still relatively sticky here, but we did feel that the coconut-y aroma was not particularly distinct here and could be more punchy for a “oomph” factor — the sambal chili also could have done with a more dense texture though does come without being too sweet and would suit those with lower tolerance to spiciness overall. Not sure if their approach for the sunny side up was to be served with the yolk fully cooked; the egg yolk for our order was indeed fully cooked, though we would reckon many would expect the egg yolk to be molten considering how that would be a crowd pleaser on its own. Those aside, we liked how the Ikan Bilis still managed maintain a crisp whilst at it, and came just saltish enough as well.

There is really no doubt that a lot of effort has been placed in serving up a plate of Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak here — despite being a one-man show on the day that we have made our visit, we must say that the amount of passion and heart placed into the craft is definitely commendable. That being said, considering the time that we spent in the queue (around 35mins), we can’t help but to feel that the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak seems to fall a bit short of the quality we would like when matched against the waiting time involved. Perhaps Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak would need some time in trying to fine tune their recipes and execution whilst getting used to the pace of work considering the sudden boost in numbers of people queueing up for their food following the posts on social media about it — they do seem to have what it takes to create a product that is more memorable considering what they are currently serving. Prices at Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak are pretty pocket-friendly however; the Aromatic Chicken Nasi Lemak is priced at $5.50 — a price that most office workers could consider for an everyday eat during lunch time. One of those humble stalls run by a budding hawkerpreneur who is all serious about delving into the F&B industry, Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak does feel like a spot that is worth supporting their efforts for.

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Jalan Selaseh hasn’t been seeing much new additions in terms of F&B establishments for the past couple of years; with the moving out of Bing Qi Lin 冰淇淋 from 24 Jalan Selaseh a number of years ago, it is only pretty much recently that a new F&B establishment has moved into the neighbourhood. Named Trovato, the establishment is one that has a focus on Italian fare; occupying a unit that is situated just right beside the now-defunct Bing Qi Ling, Trovato is located at 26 Jalan Selaseh. Bearing a striking exterior that is painted red as well as decorated with red bricks, Trovato is rather easy to spot considering how they just seemingly stand out from their neighbours. The interior of the restaurant follows close to the theme of the exterior; the choice of furnishing and fittings being close to that of a modern-day trattoria — the pizza counter being placed at one of the corners towards the end of the dining hall so patrons are able to have a view on how their signature brick-fired pizzas are being made from scratch all the way to being baked on the brick oven. Serving up a menu that largely features Italian fare, Trovato also does serve up brunch menu that is only available on weekends — their ala-carte menu comprising of sections dedicated to For The Table (i.e. bread baskets), Antipasti (i.e. first course), Zuppa (i.e. soup), Cicchetti (i.e. small plates), Insalate (i.e. salads), Pasta, Brick-Fired Pizza and Pesci E Carne (i.e. fish, seafood and meat dishes). The beverage menu also here features a good variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options — think still and sparkling water, shaken iced teas, soft drinks and juices for the former, while the latter comprises of draft beers and house pour wines; just to name a few.

The Impepata di Cozze is described on the menu as “slow stew mussel in vino bianco (i.e. white wine), coriander, diced onion and focaccia” — a pretty classic dish where the mussels are served in a pot featuring a stew that includes white wine; comes with a strip of focaccia bread on the side. Digging into the stew itself, the inclusion of white wine was pretty evident in this one — the fusion of alcohol did not create a particularly dry mouthfeel for this one; instead, that booziness of the stew runs on the back of the tongue, complimenting the briny notes of the mussels. Whilst there was quite a good portion of mussels that came with the Impepata di Cozze, the mussels could be a little fresher admittedly; not too much of a concern considering how the dish costs $20.90++, though we would have thought that there were mussels of higher quality which we have had at just a slightly higher price point as well too. That being said, the mix of diced onion and coriander provided a textural and flavour contrast to the dish — the former providing a slight crunch factor, while the latter kept things refreshing from the bring flavours of the dish overall. The inclusion of the Focaccia also provides an “instrument” that allows one to mop up all that stew with; whilst we though the Focaccia could have been made a little more fragrant and was a little dry as compared to what we have expected it to be, it still does soak up the stew relatively well for a decent flavour.

Having tried quite a number of dishes that Trovato has to offer, which includes items like the Angel on Horseback (i.e. breaded bacon wrapped oyster served with remoulade sauce) and the Truffle Spinach Cannelloni, we did feel that Trovato could perhaps look into how they could refine their dishes for better quality and execution. One main concern would be the level of freshness of the seafood; whilst the seafood items were all generally fresh for the price point, we did feel that it would have worked out better if they could perhaps source their produce from suppliers whom would be able to provide them with something that is a notch above what they have so as to create a better dining experience for their patrons. Execution-wise, we did feel that the Truffle Spinach Cannelloni could be further refined — perhaps in an effort to not over-bake the elements on the top, the Truffle Spinach Cannelloni does seem to be slightly underdone as result at the bottom; the pasta seemingly still a little doughy and brittle. Perhaps it has also got something to do with us opting for items that are not quite their specialty either — they definitely do seem to be more specialised in their brick-fired pizzas based on their social media accounts. That being said, Trovato does definitely seem like that neighbourhood Italian trattoria that adds on to the limited variety of F&B options in the Seletar Hills estate — a spot that works if one is looking for somewhere to gather outside of the hustle and bustle of town.

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The folks at Springleaf Prata Place really deserves a mention whenever it comes to their fusion Roti Prata offerings — with items such as the Umami-50 (i.e. a Murtabak featuring chicken luncheon, chicken floss, mozzarella and Japanese Mayo) and the Plaster Blaster (i.e. their unique take of a fusion of Roti Prata and Eggs Benedict) on their menu, we do really applaud their efforts in launching really fun and creative, modern interpretations of Roti Prata that would appeal to the masses. Being one of their latest creations, the Shiok Shiok Ah line-up was only introduced into their menu fairly recently — offering several versions that include the Original, Sausage, Cheese and the Sausage & Cheese variants, the Shiok Shiok Ah line-up is a fusion Roti Prata that sees the Shakshuka combined with the Roti Prata; all items from this line-up are served in a cast iron skillet as one would expect usually for a shakshuka, though with the Roti Prata being hidden at the bottom of the skillet rather than served on the side to be dipped into the skillet containing the other ingredients.

Making our trip to their original outlet at Springleaf Gardens for the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese, it is noted that the Roti Prata served in the Shiok Shiok Ah line-up does seem to be sized a little smaller than their usual plain Roti Prata — perhaps due to them having to be really precise on having to fit the Roti Prata into the skillet nicely. That being said, the plain Roti Prata that is hiding beneath all the stuff that is going on the Shakshuka bears the same consistency as what one would have expected from their usual plain Roti Prata — one that is still crisp on the outside, but not totally cracker-esque crisp given how their usual plain Roti Prata tends to still carry a good tension when one attempts to pull it apart. The Roti Prata also carries a good flavour from the flour that they have used; that being said, the main part of the Shiok Shiok Ah would be where the fusion element with the Shakshuka lies — coming with a tomato sauce that comes with capsicums, we like how the sauce wasn’t too runny so as to refrain from making the Roti Prata too soggy unintentionally; a detail that they seemed to have nailed there. The tomato sauce that came with capsicums provides much of the refreshing tang that one would associate with the bell pepper sauce of the Shakshuka, while the egg came with a molten egg yolk — something which we wouldn’t really expect mamak-style restaurants to do too well; but yet another detail that they have looked into here. The sausage that came with the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata comes with a slightly crusted casing from the grilling process — does add to the textural aspect of things here; but otherwise, the sausage used here provides a really meaty bite that is quite unlike that of chicken sausages though interestingly doesn’t carry any undesirable gamey notes. We were not served with any curries from the self-service kiosk when the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata came to our table — though having tried, the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata with the Fish Curry which we helped ourselves to, we do think that the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata doesn’t really quite need the curries and does well enough on its own in terms of how it tastes.

One thing for certain though — the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata despite its innovative and unique take on a fusion Roti Prata with a modern twist, can be said as an item that is slightly on the pricier side; priced at $8.90, the slightly smaller size of the plain Roti Prata here is a little bit of a drawback of the dish though they are also probably restricted to having the Roti Prata sized in a way that the skillet would be able to contain it. However, the slightly higher price for the dish could also be justified somewhat for the use of more premium ingredients such as that of the sausage, and the overall labour on the dish such as that of the molten egg yolk for the egg which they have seemed to have executed well. For those who are also looking for something quick to have, the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata also does involves a longer waiting time as compared to most of their simpler Roti Prata offerings due to how it is made — something which is worth considering for those who are looking to have a fast meal here. That being said, the Shiok Shiok Ah Sausage & Cheese Prata is still a novelty item that we would say that is definitely worth trying at least once to experience their take of a fusion between Roti Prata and Shakshuka. As always, we would be looking forward to what these creative folks behind Springleaf Prata Place would be coming up with next — the possibilities just seem to be endless with these folks here!

The Glasshouse is a name that shouldn’t be a stranger to the F&B scene — having first started out within CHIJMES in a container box that has see-through glass windows, they have since moved to a permanent shop unit within CHIJMES; they have also opened a new outlet which had just recently officially opened at 136 Neil Road within Goethe Institute. Taking over the former premises of the now-defunct The Lokal, the interior design of The Glasshouse’s newest location does seem to be less connected to its namesake as compared to that of its original location. That being said, the space is decorated pretty tastefully still as one would have expected — whilst the layout of the space has largely stayed the same since its days of being The Lokal, The Glasshouse’s interior now features concrete-esque walls with red tiles that gives off a feel that is similar to that of bricks for a slightly raw look; all that with cushioned chairs and tables featuring a marble-esque accent, while some of the furniture and fittings feature wood for an earthier feel. With this new outlet of The Glasshouse, a new food menu has also been introduced at this outlet; whilst some of its offerings at CHIJMES such as the Caprese Ricotta Tartine and the Avocado Dukkah & Poached Egg Tartine are also available at Neil Road, the menu at their Neil Road location also features new outlet exclusive items such as that of the Corn Fritters, Fried Chicken Burger and the Roast Beef Sanger; the food menu at Neil Road also features other items such as salads and sharing plates as well. Specialty coffee forms up much of the beverage offerings at The Glasshouse at Neil Road, which are brewed using beans which they have roasted by themselves.

Considering the limited variety of items available on their food menu, we found ourselves going for the Corn Fritters; the item featuring Charred Corn, Avocado Tomato Salsa, and Whipped Sour Cream as described on the menu, though patrons can also opt for either a Beef / Chicken Sausage — an option which we skipped on since we didn’t feel that we needed it. Being charred corn nibs that comes with a deep fried batter that is served in a “cake” form, we found the Corn Fritters to be an item that is more suitable to have as a sharing plate rather than a main course when one decides to opt out of the sausage — coming in three pieces, the corn fritters itself was executed fairly well. Think crisp “cakes” that contains corn nibs that come with an extra bite; the fritters being free from grease, while the nibs of corn within provides a hint of sweetness to go along; the tomato salsa provides a tanginess that and a burst of refreshing notes that cut through that fried nature of the dish, while the sour cream provides an added creaminess that provides for yet another dimension of texture when added to the corn fritters. They have also seemed to have added guacamole to the corn fritters, giving the dish a buttery texture that also helps to bind the corn fritters and tomato salsa altogether.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say how The Glasshouse has become quite an established brand name within the local cafe scene ever since its inception — originally known to be an instagrammable spot that serves up great coffee at a convenient location, they have since managed to expand their offerings over the years with a few tweaks being made to their operations. The opening of their new Neil Road outlet is pretty much a testament to what they have been doing in the local cafe scene — providing patrons with quality coffee and hearty brunches in conducive environment great for catch-ups and dates. Whilst sown might mention how the food selection at Neil Road does seem a tad limited at this current juncture, the selection looks decent enough to provide something for everyone. With the The Glasshouse at Neil Road being in its full launch now that they have started serving up their hot food menu, one could easily expect their new outpost to be a haunt with cafehoppers looking for a spot that is great for the ‘gram as well as for a satisfying lazy weekend brunch; pretty much the same for what one would be experiencing at their original location at CHIJMES.

Social media has been pretty hot about the news of Cafe Kitsune which has been reported to be opening at Capitol Singapore some time back. For those who are unfamiliar with Cafe Kitsune, the cafe was originated from Paris, France; it is also a brand that was being brought by Maison Kitsune, and is first established in 2002. With its expansion to several locations in Asia, their very first outlet in Singapore is slated to officially launch in December 2022, but has since had its soft opening in late November 2022. Taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Flor Patisserie outlet in Capitol, Cafe Kitsune takes up a shop space on the ground floor which is situated around the same area where Wu Pao Chun Bakery, So Good Char Chaan Tentg and Dyson are located within the complex. Decked in a wooden facade, the interior of shop space carried a minimalistic design language that features quite a bit of natural elements — think wooden furniture and fittings alongside concrete pillars, flanked with chairs with rattan accents and plenty of greenery for a look that is close to nature. In order to entice patrons passing by Cafe Kitsune, the display case storing the various cakes and pastries are strategically positioned to face the shopping aisle despite the ordering counter being located within the cafe facing the dine-in area. For those looking for savoury items, Cafe Kitsune does serve up a limited variety of quiches and sandos; the menu at Cafe Kitsune does have a stronger emphasis on breads, pastries and tarts however. For beverages, Cafe Kitsune serves up a espresso-based coffees, as well as an entire range of hot and cold drinks that includes Matcha / Houjicha, Sesame / Chai Latte and Earl Grey Dark Chocolate — just to name a few.

One of the items that really piqued our interest whilst glancing through the menu at Cafe Kitsune would be their Chili Chocolate Tart — whilst this combination of elements is not unheard of, the said combination is still a rather rare find around these days. The tart looks pretty much like any small, circular tart that one would come across at pastry / dessert shops these days with a chocolate filling and dried chilli flakes being sprinkled over the top. Slicing the tart using a knife, the tart breaks off rather neatly without the base shattering into a crumbly mess; the tart base is suitably firm and holds up the chocolate filling pretty well — the chocolate filling being more of a ganache that is smooth and bittersweet whilst being spiked with dried chilli flakes over the top and in between as well. The addition of the dried chilli flakes adds that hint of spiciness that tickles the tastebuds given how the initially chocolatey flavours slowly gets towards a light fiery kick that gradually intensifies as one gets on further with the Chilli Chocolate Tart. The only qualm we have had with the Chilli Chocolate Tart is how the combination of the chocolate and the spiciness does seem to cause a little bit of dryness to the throat after a while — definitely best to have a drink on the side to accompany the tart.

Given all the social media hype around Cafe Kitsune and its opening in Singapore, Cafe Kitsune does seem to live to all the hype pretty well considering the quality of the items that they have — the Egg Sando being an item that does really well as a savoury item on its own; Instagram-worthy with its Hanjuku Tamago that features a molten egg yolk which sits in the middle of the Sando, while the Melon Pan that we have had carries an interesting floral note that gave it an interesting dimension of flavours that we would not have usually found in the Melon Pan of other establishments. The beverages were also well-executed; the Flat White which we have had was smooth & creamy — carries a fruity body and works well as a mid-day perk me up to be paired with the bakes and pastries here. Prices of the Sando are pretty reasonable at $13 to $15 depending on the item ordered, though the more intricate cakes and pastries are priced at $11 to $13 which can be a little pricey to some. Still, we do think that Cafe Kitsune is a spot that is worthy of checking out at least once — they do execute their bakes pretty well and we have had a generally pleasant experience during our visit; the staff being polite and also actively gathering feedback from their patrons when they can. We may likely drop by again to check out the other bakes that they have to offer if we are in the area.

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia; Puzzle Coffee is one of the few overseas cafes that have recently set up their outpost in Singapore. Located at a fairly prominent spot at ION Orchard at Basement 1 near the re-located Nespresso outlet within the mall, Puzzle Coffee is situated just right outside Exit 9 of Orchard MRT Station — one of the new exits of the station which links up with the Thomson-East Coast Line. Being decked with an interior that mostly feature wooden elements, Puzzle Coffee does have a fairly limited dine-in space for those who are looking to have their coffee seated down within their premises — the establishment being seemingly run more like a takeaway kiosk considering the use of biodegradable plant pulp cups as the standard for all beverages rather than glass or ceramic cups here. Despite so, Puzzle Coffee does offer is patrons with the choice of edible cups sourced from Good Edi as well at a top-up of $3 for every edible cup opted. Beverages available at Puzzle Coffee includes espresso-based coffee, cold brew, non-coffee lattes, as well as pour over coffee — the coffee beans they use for their coffee being roasted by themselves in Melbourne and delivered to their Singapore store. For those feeling a little peckish, Puzzle Coffee does serve up a limited variety of pastries and danishes which patrons can go for as well.

Having skimmed through what they have to offer in their menu, we found ourselves going for the Magic which was also described on their menu as “Melbourne’s Secret”. For those who are unfamiliar, the Magic is an espresso-based coffee that sees a specific proportion of milk to the double ristretto shot. We have also opted for tree edible cup from Good Edi — the edible cup being made of oat and grains. We were actually pretty surprised how sturdy the edible cups are — the edible cups held out pretty well to bites taken to it; only breaking at the parts that one chews on, therefore making it easy to have despite holding liquids within without soaking up the coffee too quickly as well. That being said, the edible cup does carry minimal flavour — largely that of the earthiness of oats, therefore rendering it more suitable as a cup than a snack in our opinion. The Magic itself was actually pretty well-pulled; smooth and creamy with a medium body and and a roasty flavour profile — something which works well for a good perk-me-up!

Given its pretty convenient location at Exit 9 of the Orchard MRT Station located on the Thomson-East Cost Line end of the station, Puzzle Coffee is probably one of those spots that would see workers within the Orchard neighbourhood to grab takeaway coffees as they pass through the station to get on with their routine for the day. One particularly interesting thing which we have noticed about Puzzle Coffee is how they seem to be pretty big on sustainability — a factor that may also draw patrons whom are environmentally-conscious towards them as well. Prices of their coffee can be said as pretty competitive against that of other establishments within the local cafe scene; a cup of coffee here with the standard biodegradable plant pulp cups ranges between $5 to $8 — it does only get to become a little pricier should one decide to opt for the edible cup overall. A convenient spot for a grab-and-go cuppa, Puzzle Coffee would likely be a spot that those looking for a quick cup of coffee as well as coffee connoisseurs alike would be more than happy to make a visit.

Have heard quite a fair bit of the new MarketBlue which has recently opened its doors within the basement of Tanglin Mall — situated right beside B for Bagel, making a visit to MarketBlue is much more convenient these days considering how Tanglin Mall is within walking distance from the Orchard Boulevard MRT Station along the Thomson-East Coast Line. Being a Korean establishment with a retail-cum-food hall element, MarketBlue is split off into two sections — a smaller section is dedicated to their retail concept which stocks up on lifestyle goods and MarketBlue-branded merchandise; the retail section also has a section where one could pick up some Korean tidbits as well as a “Ramyeon Library” where one would be able to pick up various flavours of Korean instant noodles by individual packs — great for those who do not wish to stock up their pantries with loads of Ramyeon flavours without knowing of how they would taste like. Most of the space within MarketBlue is dedicated to their dine-in food hall however; housing several brands such as that of Gogipan, Jumak, Boonsik and Donas8 all under one roof and sharing a common platform for ordering via the QR code on the table — several concepts such as that of Gogipan and Donas8 were not ready during our visit and skated to open later. The dine-in space features quite a spacious area that is friendly for large groups — this is considering how most of the food items are more of a communal nature to be shared across the table here. Whilst Jumak’s lunch menu comprises of the Baekban (i.e. home-cooked foods including rice, various kinds of herbs, kimchi, soup / stew and grilled meat) featuring dishes that are rotated around on a daily basis, Boonsik’s menu features sharing plates such as the Tteokbokki, Fish Cake Soup, Cheese Balls, Japchae Mandoo etc. as well as Korean Fried Chicken as well.

Available as both an individual-sized item or one that is to be served as a communal item to be served in multiple portions across the table, we went with the Baekban that is to be shared between two (2) pax. The Baekban from Jumak’s menu includes a bowl of rice, a variety of Korean marinated / fermented side dishes — this would include the cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, pickled chili peppers, marinated lotus roots, broccoli and the spicy Korean tofu, as well as a stew and a single choice of “grilled” meat ranging from chicken, beef, pork or fish (we went with the beef, which we found to be stir-fried, for our order) according to the patron’s indicated preference. Based on our experience with what we have had in the Baekban, we found ourselves really liking the marinated / fermented side dishes and the stir-fried beef more than the stew itself — the marinated / fermented side dishes do carry a unique flavour profile of their own; often providing a hint of sweetness amidst some form of savouriness if not being tangy and mildly spicy alongside a refreshing crunch that resets the tastebuds whenever it gets too carb-y or meaty. We found the stir-fried beef (i.e. Beef Bulgogi) to also have been rather well-executed too — tender and juicy whilst not being particularly gamey; all that being savoury and flavourful as well which complimented the sticky, short-grain rice perfectly. The only element which we found a little lacking in the entire package was the stew — the stew being a little weak in its flavour, while the chunks of pork were a little tough to chew with a slightly meatier note.

With the revamp of Tanglin Mall and the commissioning of the Thomson-East Coast Line, it does seem that the mall is seeing more footfall — the addition of tenants such as that of MarketBlue does seem to further bring people to the mall as well. Coining on the Korean wave of trends that just never seems to end, MarketBlue does seem like a spot that provides for an authentic and unique experience without having to travel out of the island for — this is especially so for its dine-in element where it offers the Baekban that allows one to experience Korean home-cooked fare in its simplest form. Whilst we do feel that there are elements to be improved on such as that of the stew that was included in the Baekban, we did feel that the food available at MarketBlue does seem to work well against what we have experienced in other local Korean establishments that are run by Koreans as well; we actually quite liked the Soy Sauce Candied Chicken off the menu of Boonsik considering how all the chicken chunks were crisp and tender whilst drenched in a sticky and thick soy sauce that is a good balance of sweet and savoury. Given the amount of attention given to MarketBlue on social media, we noted that queues do form up pretty quickly at lunch hours — something to note for those intending to make a visit. That being said, MarketBlue is certainly a destination worth visiting at least once just to experience its unique concept and what we perceive to be a rather authentic experience on home-cooked Korean fare.

Munchi Pancakes isn’t a particularly new name in the scene. Opening its doors first at Yishun Park Hawker Centre ever since the said hawker centre has started operations, Munchi Pancakes had gained popularity for its take on the local favourite Min Jiang Kueh. They have since recently opened a second outlet at Lau Pa Sat; taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Muffintory (best known for its Sourdough Muffins available in various flavours – the brand being a concept by the folks who brought to us The Soup Spoon; now operating as a online-based establishment), they are located within the air-conditioned area at Lau Pa Sat that shares a space with the retail section of the hawker centre. Serving up pretty much the same items that they offer at their Yishun Park Hawker Centre outlet, Munchi Pancakes serves up the usual Min Jiang Kueh here, as well as their signature Munchi Pancakes and Mini Munchi here — the latter two being their interpretation of the classic Min Jiang Kueh “in a different form factor”. Known for their pancakes that comes in a variety of modern flavours for its fillings, the opening of their Lau Pa Sat outpost also sees the addition of the Earl Grey filling — a flavour that is exclusive to the Lau Pa Sat outlet.

We made our visit to Munchi Pancakes’ Lau Pa Sat on a weekday afternoon during lunch hour — there was a decent variety of their Min Jiang Kueh-style pancakes available, and we found ourselves going for the Charcoal Black Sesame and Original Biscoff flavours. Both flavours were actually equally outstanding, but we liked how their Original Biscoff (i.e. Speculoos / Cookie Butter) was a flavour that could easily scratch the cravings of the OG Min Jiang Kueh spread with peanut butter particularly for those can’t really have peanut. Not only does the biscoff spread looks the part with its shade and sheen that it carried aesthetically, but the addition of crumbles add on to the textural aspect of the dish; provides for the crunchiness which replicates that of peanut crumbs. We thought the level of sweetness of the pancake was well-managed overall; the pancake itself carrying a chewy texture. That being said, those who love their Min Jiang Kueh to come with crisp edges around the side may be a tad disappointed with this one considering how this one seems to be a little lacking in that aspect.

Whilst Munchi Pancakes does seem to be pretty popular an option be it at Yishun Park Hawker Centre or at Lau Pa Sat, the waiting times for patrons to be served can be a little unbearable especially for office folks who are looking for a fast grab-and-go option once the queue starts to form. Much of the queueing is caused by patrons who are taking away a large quantity of pancakes as well as those who enquire on the different flavours and types of pancakes (i.e. Munchi Pancakes / Mini Munchi / Min Jiang Kueh), though it did somehow deter quite a number of patrons from attempting to queue and also resulted in some patrons dropping out of the queue — we found ourselves standing in line for around 30mins despite there being just a little less than 10 groups of people in the queue; a duration that can be considered a little long considering how almost all of the Min Jiang Kueh pancakes are made prior and picked up from the display case at the counter. Otherwise, the Lau Pa Sat outlet of Munchi Pancakes is a great place spot to give the various offerings of Munchi Pancakes a go — one that is definitely more convenient than making a trip down to Yishun Park Hawker Centre for those who do not live around that vicinity; if one has the time to wait though, of course.

Chanced upon this seemingly new stall named Chef de Pasta at the same coffeeshop where 888 Mookata is located at Blk 212 Hougang Street 21 — occupying just a corner unit right beside the tze-char stall, Chef de Pasta looks quite like any other western cuisine stall that is situated at the neighbourhood until one observes the menu. Whilst the namesake of the stall undoubtedly meant that Chef de Pasta serves up pastas as its signature offerings, it is interesting to see how the menu at Chef de Pasta also carries dishes such as Japanese Garlic Fried Rice served with a good variety of meat / seafood options for patrons to choose from — that is aside from the various main course dishes such as the Grilled Cajun Chicken Chop and Fish & Chips that one would usually find at any western cuisine stall situated in a coffeeshop in the heartlands. Taking an even closer look on the menu at Chef de Pasta, there are some pretty surprising finds for the different pasta that they serve up — notable mentions include the Kimchi Pasta with Chicken and Bacon, Beef Bulgogi Pasta, Salted Egg Pasta with Chicken Karaage, as well as the Seafood / Clam & Crab Meat Pasta with White Wine; all items that one would not really expect to find at a coffeeshop stall serving up western fare in the neighbourhood. Side Orders such as Buffalo Wing with Fries, Porky Fries, Mashed Potato etc. are also available for those looking for something to share around the table.

Making our order at the counter, it is noted that a couple mans the stall — the chef being a male who is dressed in a chef’s coat whipping up all the orders, while a lady assists with the serving, taking of orders and some of the plating of the dishes. Electronic buzzers are issued upon order and payment — the buzzer will ring once the order is ready to be collected from the counter. Despite being one of the slightly more predictable items off the menu here, we opted for the Truffle Beef Pasta after noticing its price point on the menu — the main courses here (including the Japanese Garlic Fried Rice and pasta dishes) are priced from $6.90 to $12.90; the Truffle Beef Pasta is listed at the price of $8.90 which we felt was pretty much a steal. Coming in a black plate with a thick rim, the Truffle Beef Pasta looks absolutely enticing; beef slices and capsicums amidst pasta that has been tossed in a truffle-infused sauce. Patrons have the choice to opt between the Linguine, Spaghetti, Penne and Fettuccine for their choice of noodles to go along with their order — we opted for the Fettuccine.

Going straight for the Fettuccine, we were already very impressed with what they have to offer; given the price point, we were initially expecting an overpowering hint of truffle since we thought that they were probably going to use truffle oil to provide for the aromatics and flavour of the dish — we were pretty wrong about that. Turns out, it seems that Chef de Pasta uses what seems to be truffle paste for their Truffle Beef Pasta — it gives off that light whiff of earthy aroma as one slurps on the Fettuccine that was done al-dente; that hint of truffle being well-balanced with the hint of black pepper that follows shortly after, providing a peppery and lightly spicy kick that cuts through that truffle aroma aptly. The grilled beef slices were absolutely well-executed; despite how they did not seem to ask their patrons for the desired level of doneness for their beef, the beef was done just right — no effort required to chew, whilst the beef slices maintained a good bite whilst being tender and juicy. There are strips of julienned red capsicums and caramalised onions that further adds on to the Truffle Beef Pasta — the former providing a refreshing flavour contrast to all those savoury notes in the pasta, while the caramalised onions add a hint of sweetness to the pasta for more contrast of flavours. Overall, a plate of pasta that well-exceeded our expectations at its price point — definitely something which we will go for again.

Whilst we had only tried out one pasta dish from Chef de Pasta during our visit there, we were really left surprised by the quality of food that they have to offer at the price point. With most dishes being priced pretty affordably and comfortably below $15, the quality of food served at Chef de Pasta easily surpassed that of what some specialty coffee cafes are serving up — there seems to be much thought being placed in the recipes that they have derived so as to achieve that delicate balance between flavours that keep things from being jelat or one-dimensional, while they also were able to showcase their expertise through serving up an exemplary plate of pasta which one would least likely expect from a western stall situated in the heartlands; Chef de Pasta indeed they are. It is needless to say that we are looking forward to revisit Chef de Pasta again some day — we are most definitely interested in giving their Kimchi Pasta with Chicken and Bacon, Beef Bulgogi Pasta and Clam & Crab Meat Pasta with White Wine a go another time; items that we are pretty intrigued with. A spot that we find worth making that extra trip especially considering it’s quality against the price point, we wish the folks behind Chef de Pasta all the best in what is to come!

The folks of SILK Tea Bar had really set an impression somewhere — stopped by the tea bar which is located at the second level of one of the shophouses at Sago Street (i.e. right opposite Chinatown Complex Market, where The Food Peeps Coffee & Deli is also located) without the intention to write about it but more to just have a quiet hour to spend all alone, but we left being especially satisfied with their dedication to serving their customers well and their knowledge of different teas in general. One would rarely visit an establishment and hear from the staff asking “Are you comfortable today?” when one leaves the place — the statement itself is already testament to how much they care about the patrons that come through their doors everyday.

Predominantly a tea bar that specialises in steeped teas, they do offer quite a variety hand-brewed teas or different variety and origins which they take a lot of pride in serving — but they do recognise how some patrons might be looking for something more casual as a simple drink to just sit around and have whilst passing by the area; the range of casual teas mostly are made up of hot teas, though one can enjoy the SILK Cold Brew which is a daily special, cold-extracted tea. The folks at SILK Tea Bar would inform patrons on which is the daily special tea served for the day — the SILK Cold Brew was a ripe Pu-Erh tea with noticeable notes of chrysanthemum; an incredibly easy-to-drink tea with very light floral notes and clean finish which was a joy to have. We were dialog intrigued by how they do serve up Kueh Kosui and Kueh Tapioca as light snacks to go alongside the teas at SILK Tea Bar; the former was sold out when we made our visit and thus we went for the latter — Kueh Tapiocas are typically quite dense and sweet so we were really glad with how this one was light, chewy and fluffy without being too sticky or sweet, which pairs up with the tea nicely without taking away all the flavours of the tea.

If anything, SILK Tea Bar probably exemplifies the qualities of a modern progressive tea bar the best — no doubt we do have more authentic Chinese-style tea houses such as Tea Chapter within the vicinity, but SILK Tea Bar probably strikes the best balance between being a traditionally formal tea bar with its quiet, peaceful and clean surroundings; there isn’t an element in its design that screams pretentious in here, whilst also embracing the art of tea-brewing in the modern age such as to provide patrons with more casual options such as that of cold-brewed tea. Attention to detail has been placed from the selection of light snacks to pair the beverages all the way to how they serve the patrons — the light snacks menu not only sees the list of usual nibbles such as salt / sugar peanuts, but also local favourites such as Kuek Kosui / Tapioca that are executed in a way that doesn’t steal the limelight away from the teas. The staff at SILK Tea Bar also squats next to their patrons to explain all about their concept and various offerings to the patrons as well; a formality usually observed in more traditional tea houses. Given the details that the folks here have looked into during our visit, SILK Tea Bar has plenty of potential as an establishment that would educate its patrons on tea culture and teas in general without being particularly intimidating to visit — a spot that we would most certainly think of when we need a quiet spot with good tea to clear our thoughts.

Hainanese Curry Rice seems to be all the rage recently when it comes to local hawker cuisine — while Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice had recently opened its new premises at VivoCity, there are also new establishments such as that of Huat Bro Curry Rice (by the folks behind Ming Fa Fishball Noodles) at Hougang Green Shopping Mall serving up Hainanese Curry Rice that had also sprouted up of the late. Kim’s Hainan Curry is yet another one of such names that have been established fairly recently — their very first stall opened around mid-2022 within Wonderful Coffee Shop at Foodxchange; a light industrial building that is located at Admiralty Street. They had then subsequently opened a new outlet at the Ever Dragon Cafe coffeeshop at Blk 122 Bedok North Street 2, taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Wang Bao Bao which was best known for their burgers served with bak kwa. Their third and newest outlet is located at a more centralised location — situated at Blk 186 Toa Payoh Central within the J99 Eating House, the coffeeshop that Kim’s Curry Hainan is located at Toa Payoh also houses an outlet of Chao Yuan Gourmet as well. Serving up Hainanese Curry Rice in sets, patrons can get to choose the set according to their preferences of the meat options that come with the set — think sets like the Signature Kim’s Curry Combo Set, Crispy Chicken Chop Set etc.

We cannot consider ourselves having had Hainanese Curry Rice without having braised pork — and this is how we found ourselves going for the Braised Pork Set. The opening of their newest location at Toa Payoh also saw Kim’s Curry Hainan offering a new flavour for their Hainanese Curry Rice; the Mala Curry, which they dub to be the first Mala Curry to be served in the island. Each Hainanese Curry Rice set comes with the usual suspects; the rice being drenched in a myriad of sauces such as Hainanese Curry and braised sauce, while the inclusion of braised cabbage and sunny-side-up are also standard with the sets. Being very eager to try the curry first, we liked how the cocktail of sauces here really gives their Hainanese Mala Curry Rice a flavour that is unique to their own without being spicy for those who have moderate to lower tolerance to spiciness — the Hainanese Curry here is absolutely rich but not gloopy from being too starchy, but it’s that addition of the Mala that really helps to ante up the flavour profile of the dish; think that fragrance of Sichuan peppers that does not turn into an all-out tastebud-numbing experience. Instead, that fragrance would be the opening note of the flavours of the Mala Curry, before being rounded off by that savoury and rich curry that was especially delicious with that flavour contrast. One big highlight for us was also the Braised Pork itself; the braised pork at Kim’s Curry Hainan comes absolutely fatty, gelatinous and melt-in-the-mouth tender — well-braised so that it soaks up that rich and flavourful braising liquid that is all savoury, which further adds on the flavours of the dish. The braised cabbage is also soft to the bite, while the sunny-side-up comes with a molten egg yolk that flows as one breaks it apart — a crowd-pleaser on its own.

Despite being one of the newcomers to the scene, Kim’s Curry Hainan has managed to impress us with its food offerings which could easily rival that of the more established names serving up similar fare. Perhaps this could be due to their experience in the F&B business despite being a new concept — Kim’s Curry Hainan are by the same folks behind Kim Kitchenz, which offers tingkat delivery services, as well as the recipe of the Hainanese Curry Rice which was created by the owner’s grandfather who had co-founded The Oasis 海京楼 (at Toa Payoh Town Park); all these being mentioned in their corporate website. Regardless, we did find ourselves enjoying their Hainanese Curry Rice — right from the curry gravy all the way down to their braised pork and even the sunny-side-up and braised cabbage; they seemed to have nailed all the elements that came together in the dish. This is not to mention how they have also gave the Hainanese Curry Rice a modern twist — the fusion of Mala also did not ruin its authenticity in any way; only adding to the entire experience. A stall with an interesting backstory and some really promising offerings at hand, Kim’s Curry Hainan is one of the spots which we will see ourselves returning to if we are craving for some seriously good Hainanese Curry Rice!

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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