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Archive for the ‘Don't Mind Going Back’ Category

If you’ve ever blogged on Jamie’s Italian in Singapore, chances are I’d have read it. You see, before heading there for dinner, I did my homework and basically went through the first 20 Google pages for “jamie oliver singapore”, just to know what’s good and which dishes to avoid no matter what. Happy to report that my research paid off! I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here, even though there are apparently quite a few disses in the food-blogosphere~

Anyway, naysayers or not, standouts imo include the baked mushrooms which all self-respecting fungi fans will love (this was so good that I was reluctant to share haha), the light and healthy baked halibut which is new on the menu (yes, barely four months after opening its doors, the menu has already been updated with seasonal revisions and more than 15 new dishes!), the epic brownie (with a name like that, you can expect to be blown away by the warm, fudgy, oh-so-decadent brownie slathered in hot chocolate sauce and crowned with amaretto ice cream and caramel popcorn wooooooo) and predictably, my favourite dependable tiramisu!

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Sweet Mini Chilli Peppers ($12.50++)
red chillies stuffed with tuna, capers, herb cress & anchovies

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Baked Mushrooms ($12.50++)
swiss browns with crispy “music bread” & smoked buffalo mozzarella

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Honeycomb Cannelloni Three-Ways ($19.50++)
aubergine & sun-dried tomato, pumpkin, ricotta & spinach

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Baked Sustainable Halibut ($29.90++)
farm-raised delicate white fish from Norway, spring vegetable stew with broad beans, celery, peas, asparagus, pancetta and baby onions cooked down with white wine, roman fried artichokes, crostini & lemony yoghurt dressing

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30-Day Matured Prime Rib ($59.50++)
350g angus breed bone-in strip loin served with wild mushrooms & peppery endives, summer truffle butter & shaved tuscan black truffles (additional $5++)

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Epic Brownie ($11.50++)
warm fudgy brownie with amaretto ice cream & caramelised amaretti popcorn

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Raspberry Frangipane ($9.50++)
fresh raspberries & almond filling with crème fraîche ice cream & berry drizzle

P.S. the dim lighting gave such a strange hue to the raspberries *cringe*

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Tiramisu ($11.50++)
coffee-flavoured trifle with orange mascarpone & chocolate

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My thanks to Stefanie for inviting and hosting dinner!

Jamie’s Italian
#01-165/166/167, Vivocity
1 Harbourfront Walk
6733 5500

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Meaning ‘the sun rises in the east’, Levant is a warm and intimate restaurant offering eclectic culinary wonders from the Middle East region.

I’ve been to cities in Turkey and Egypt to explore their dining scenes and I fell in love with the food there. A meal at Levant reminds me of just how much I love Middle Eastern cuisine!

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There’s baba ghanoush and there’s moutabal. Both are similar, and I was told that higher-end restaurants call their version “moutabal” instead of “baba ghanoush” (don’t ask me why). Doesn’t matter to me; I love all roasted eggplant dips and Levant’s rendition was wonderfully smokey and very satisfying! And of course, when there’s hummus around, you can be sure my spoon will be busy making repeated trips between the plate and my mouth ha.

Mixed Appetizer Platter ($28++)
hummus, moutabal, taboula, green salad

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While Levant’s menu is fixed and comprehensive enough, the kitchen does cater to guest’s requests whenever they arise and also when possible. So I requested for homemade falafels and they were indeed delivered fresh and piping hot to our table! Kudos to Chef Hany (the handsome chef who works out in the kitchen with his dumbbells haha) for going the extra mile!

Falafels
chickpea patties, off the menu

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Stew dishes also take center stage at Levant and most notably Chef Hany’s lamb biryani with whole lamb shank stewed to tenderness and served with quality light and fluffy biryani rice. The smell was incredible and everyone at the table (except me, the pescetarian) raved about it!

Lamb Shank Biryani ($32++ for 2 pax)

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I officially love the seafood platter here! Marinated and cooked in all kinds of exotic spices which I won’t even pretend I know what’s what, everything was fresh and the fish kebab was spectacularly tender and soft, tasting almost like cod fish~ Plus I couldn’t stop dipping all my food in the delish yogurt and garlic sauce on the side!

Seafood Grill Platter ($128++)
fish kebab, prawn kebab, lobster, squid

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K was all praises for these two meaty kebabs and he even liked them more than my fish kebabs! Awesome, all the more fish kebabs for me then! Both dishes are also the chef’s recommendations so you won’t go wrong choosing them!

Kebab Koobideh ($29++)
minced lamb, onion, pepper
&
Shish Tawooq ($28++)
boneless chicken, saffron, traditional spices

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By now, I already know desserts in Middle Eastern cuisine are more often than not an afterthought. I don’t fancy baklava and Turkish delights so a mere scoop of ice cream was the perfect ending to the meal!

Saffron Ice Cream ($6.50++)

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My thanks to Anil and Suresh for inviting and being such entertaining hosts!

Levant
8 Greenwood Avenue
9640 4866

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Bib on time at Crab in Da Bag!

A similar concept to The Boiling Crab in the United States, Crab in Da Bag is a Southern Louisiana and Asian influenced seafood restaurant specializing in seafood dishes tossed in homemade sauces and served casual-style in plastic bundles. Yabbies in Mum’s Special prepared with sautéed onion rings and garlic in a savoury, sweet and sour brown sauce ($28++), Squid in Ultimate Curry ($18++), Prawns in Caboodle Mix made with a combination of local and Cajun spices, garlic and butter ($25++), old school Fruity Boat a.k.a. honeydew with lychee jelly ($5++) and Bananamisu ($5++); we had all those and more! The convivial atmosphere and eating off the table (use your hands and get messy!) experience scored many brownie points!

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I deem these fried addictive bites a must try! We couldn’t stop nibbling on them while waiting for the “real” food to arrive. Plus, they go really well with the Somersby Apple Cider beer ($9.50++ for 330ml)!

Fry It
sweet potato fries ($6++), crinkled cauliflower ($8++)

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The house signature is a massive pot (they call it the titanic pot) full of all things good and every type of crustacean delights you could possibly want! My favourite was the sweet and juicy king crab legs, and of course lobster FTW!

The Caboodle Boil ($299++ per pot, good for 4-5 pax)
1 boston lobster, 2 sri lankan crabs, 400g king crab legs, 400g yabbies or 750g squid, 500g tiger prawns, sausages, corn, potatoes accompanied by malaysian sambal dip, thai green dip and louisiana garlic butter dip

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Thank you, Amanda, for inviting and cracking those hard shells for us!

Crab in Da Bag
#01-25, Playground @ Big Splash
902 East Coast Parkway
6440 0083

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First brunch of 2014 occurred on the second weekend and off to La Ristrettos we went! Despite its obscure location on Level 8 of Novena Medical Centre, the small café was packed to the brim so I guess this is no longer a hidden gem huh. 3 mains (yes, 3 mains for 2 pax; we like to over-order like that) and 1 coffee only set us back $41 –> that’s so affordable, considering how other chi-chi brunch places are over-charging eggs at $20ish per plate, sheesh. Plus, the food was pretty good, especially my bircher muesli which was a head turner! Everyone who walked past our table gave the towering dish a second glance; go ahead, eat your heart out ha.

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Cappuccino ($5)
fun fact from the menu: the name ‘cappuccino’ comes from the Capuchin monastic order because when the espresso is mixed with milk, the light brown colour resembles the colour of their robes!

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Bircher Muesli ($12)
wine poached pear, pistachio, muesli, yogurt, milk

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Mushroom Frittata ($12)
omelette, ham, tomato, cheese, sourdough

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Mushroom and Feta Cheese Crepe with Scrambled Eggs ($12)
rockets, almond, spinach, honey balsamico & mustard sauce

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La Ristrettos
#08-37, Novena Medical Centre
10 Sinaran Drive
6397 7165

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I attempted to make a reservation at The Flying Squirrel thrice and were always thwarted by others more enthusiastic about advance booking than me. Finally, on the fourth try (whatever happened to third time’s the charm?), we scored a table for 5 yay! Ordered a lot of food and honestly, while I love Japanese cuisine wholeheartedly, nothing at TFS blew me out of my socks (not that I was wearing any), except maybe the gorgeously fatty negitoro tataki which I can easily self-assemble at most other Japanese restaurants ha.

Top right, clockwise:
TFS signature maki, onsen tamago, spicy maguro temaki, anago, unagi and aburi salmon sashimi, tako wasabi.

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Negitoro Tataki
pounded tuna belly, black tobiko, uni, served chilled

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TFS Carpaccio
salmon belly, rocket leaves, homemade sauce

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TFS Chirashi
assorted sashimi, japanese rice

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The Flying Squirrel
#01-02, 92 Amoy Street
6226 2203

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Are you still vexed over where to go for a special dinner on Christmas?

Here’s one more restaurant to add to your list for consideration: Arossa Wine & Grill! This festive season, Chef Chiaki Watanabe has put together a fixed 5 course menu priced at $135++, only available from 23 to 25 December. On hindsight, it’s actually more than 5 courses since in addition to the appetiser, foie gras, pasta, choice of main course and dessert, you also get to enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, amuse bouche, and coffee/tea! That’s a lot of food and drinks, perfect for festive overindulgence!

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Lovely hue of strawberry bubbly!

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Turnip Potage Soup
amuse

Okie it’s supposed to be turnip potage soup but we were served a small cup of hearty mushroom soup instead. A warm start to our meal on that cold evening!

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Smoked Salmon and Vegetable Terrine with Sour Cream & Orange, Dill Dressing
course #1: appetiser

Too green for comfort? Nay, don’t be put off by the colour! Fresh asaparagus and broccoli seemed to be frozen in time by gelatin, and the sashimi quality salmon was super fresh.

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Sauteed Foie Gras with Caramelized Apple, Balsamic Sauce
course #2

K kept raving about this crispy-outside-soft-inside piece of decadence! You’ve got to trust his words since I can’t comment on this haha.

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Home-made Herb Tagliatelle with Cream Bisque Sauce
course #3

I’m trying to go low carbs these days so I can eat more for my upcoming trip to Vietnam, and this delish pasta didn’t help one bit haha. Rich and creamy, this was sooooo good!!

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Australian Roasted Tenderloin with Celeriac puree, Périgueux Sauce
course #4: choose meat or fish

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Sauteed White Fish with Saffron Flavored Clam Soup
course #4: choose meat or fish

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Fondant Chocolate with Panettone Gelato, Mixed Berry Sauce
course #5: dessert

The somewhat predictably sweet ending to the cheery feast; check out the massive eruption of smooth intense dark chocolate lava here! My only gripe is that the scoop of gelato was too tiny; we definitely needed more to pair with the awesome cake!

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Special thanks to the team from Publicist PR for inviting and hosting!

Arossa Wine & Grill
#02-01, Scotts Square (next to Hyatt Hotel)
6 Scotts Road
6636 2951

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Pidgin Kitchen & Bar used to be Pamplemousse, a restaurant which I declared I liked back in 2011 and now 2 years later, I’m pleased to report I like Pidgin (not to be confused with pigeon; google for meaning) too! Same owners, but with an entirely different concept this time. By combining popular Southeast Asian dishes, western cooking techniques and the culinary team’s wicked sense of imagination, Pidgin is offering a bold new menu full of interesting eyebrow-raising dishes!

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Spicy Achar Pickles ($6++)
seasonal vegetables, peanut, hazelnut, sesame

When I first tasted this, my immediate thought was “my mom would love this!” so I’ve got to bring her here someday haha. Tangy and spicy, this was incredibly moreish and appetizing!

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RT’s Uni Toast ($18++)
uni, comte, brioche

This was good (how can anything be awful with uni?!) but give me uni sushi/sashimi anytime.

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Crab Otak Croquettes ($12++)
chye poh remoulade, southeast asian spices

Conceived from the traditional ‘otah otah’ comes this croquette with generous chunks of crabmeat in rempeh spice paste and coconut milk, with an intriguing chye poh remoulade sauce. A must at Pidgin!

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Uni Tagliolini ($28++)
pork gratons, nori, crustacean cream, shallots

Loved it at Pamplemousse, still loving it at Pidgin! Enough said.

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Lobster Wonton Capellini ($26++)
lobster oil, chorizo iberico, fried lobster wonton, pickled green chillies

Far from its humble wonton mee‐served‐in­‐a‐chicken‐bowl comrade, the thin pasta was tossed in lobster oil (apparently made painstakingly from lobster heads and garlic) aglio-­olio style, flanked by Canadian live lobsters stuffed into plump fried wontons and topped with chorizo slices. While I could appreciate the gourmet idea of wonton mee, the price seemed too steep to me hmm.

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Spicy Tuna Tartare ($24++)
sambal belacan oil, calamansi, furikake, wonton skins

Tuna tartare is getting more and more common on restaurants’ menus but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a good one. Love this version here, with a fab dressing of sambal belacan oil!

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Scallops ($26++)
thai green curry emulsion, savoury granola, kaffir lime salt

Towards the end of dinner, we were asked to choose our favourite dish and the scallop was my pick! Plump and fat scallops aside, I couldn’t stop nibbling on the savoury granola. Addictive!

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Razor Clams Tau Suan ($20++)
clam dashi, split mung beans, dough fritters

Inspired by the popular Singapore dessert, this unseen-before tau suan ditches the sweet for the savoury with clam dashi, split mung beans topped with dough fritters. A love it or hate it kind of dish, I think. Guess which camp I belong to?

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Quinoa ($13++)
tomato, pandan, chinese olive vegetable, parmesan, almonds

One of the best quinoa ever!! Actually, it may be the best I’ve ever had. Pressure-cooked with tomato and pandan stock, this Mediterranean-meets-Thai style vegetarian rendition was very flavourful and the sprinkling of parmesan and almonds made it super addictive!

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“Milo Dinosaur” Version 2.1 ($15++)
72% dark chocolate flourless cake, milo ice cream, milo streusel, dulce de leche

Do you know that I’ve never had an actual authentic milo dinosaur before? Not lying! Anyway, while I don’t know how the real thing tastes like, I’m more than happy with the deluxe version from Pidgin. Rich and well worth the calories!

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Kaya Bread & Butter Pudding ($15++)
homemade kaya, raisins, hojicha milk tea ice cream

Kaya toast and ‘teh peng’, anyone? While the buttery French brioche with homemade coconut-and-egg kaya jam was nice, the aromatic milk tea ice cream was the star! I secretly wanted the whole scoop to myself haha.

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My big thanks to Ivy and Kherray for hosting dinner!

Pidgin Kitchen & Bar
#01-04, 7 Dempsey Road
6475 0080

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An unplanned dinner at Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya turned out to be great! The enthusiasm of the staff was infectious and I’m amused that they bid all diners “see you tomorrow!!” –> talk about a positive attitude haha. Extremely affordable larger-than-tapas dishes which range from average to very good, especially the soft shell crab spring roll, though I’m not sure why/how a Vietnamese style appetizer ended up on a Japanese menu but heck, the texture was fabulous and it was delicious. And they’ve got an “all-you-grab-edamame” promo going on: the staff will beat the drum loudly, haul a HUGE bowl of edamame to your table, get you a glove, and then with all eyes on you, start digging in and grab as much as you can in one hand! So fun and rowdy, I love it!

Bottom right, clockwise:

miso cod and mushrooms in foil ($9++), sweet pumpkin salad ($5++), soft shell crab spring roll salad ($8.80++), salmon sashimi ($8.80++), K trying his best to grab as much moshio edamame as possible ($6++ per grab)!

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Bottom right, clockwise:

grilled rice ball ($4++), char-grilled saba ($6++), singapore roll ($7.80++), papa’s deep fried tofu ($4++), unagi ($7++) and miso salmon ($4++) skewers, kuzu mocha ($5++).

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Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya
#12-02, Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road
6509 9618

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For the month of December, Fullerton Hotel’s Jade Restaurant is offering an a la carte dinner buffet with a selection of more than 38 dishes to choose from! $58++ per person for unlimited servings of appetizers, soups, main courses, rice and noodle dishes as well as desserts –> I think this is very value for money, considering how each dish is made to order and meticulously prepared by Chef Leong and his culinary team.

My aim was to try all the seafood dishes at least once but alas, I was too ambitious (eyes > stomach). After (only) 24 dishes, we were absolutely stuffed to the brim and I waved my white flag haha. Below are some of the more outstanding dishes which I strongly recommend! Oh yeah, certain premium specialties have an additional charge so watch out or else don’t be shocked by the final bill!

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青芥末虾球
Deep-fried Prawns Coated with Wasabi Mayonnaise

A classic appetizer! The wasabi was quite mild but I could still feel a pleasant kick.

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黄金辣汁蟹肉馒头包
Golden “Man Tou” Stuffed with Chilli Crab Meat (additional $2.80++ per piece)

This is a MUST! The plain bun was so light and soft (“绵绵” suddenly popped into my mind), perfect with the rich chilli crab meat! Halfway through, I text the marketing lady: “Omg the crab buns are sooooo good!!!!!!!!” and her reply? “See I told ya!! Order more!!” LOL.

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黄焖海鲜花胶汤
Braised Fish Maw and Seafood in Superior Broth (additional $9++)

Hands down, one of the best Chinese style soups in my life. Even K agrees, and he’s very particular about soups (I have a lower standard ha). We also tried the braised bird’s nest with truffle egg white (additional $9++) and you know how special the fish maw soup must be when I picked that over bird’s nest as my favourite!

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咖啡肉排
Sautéed Pork Ribs in Coffee Sauce

Okie, I included this because K said it’s good (he gets airtime since I’m a nice girlfriend ha). He liked the wok-fried sliced beef in black pepper sauce too!

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鱼香茄子豆腐
Braised Bean Curd with Eggplant

There’s a few variations of tofu dishes (braised shimeiji mushroom with spinach layer bean curd, stewed bean curd with angled gourd and mushroom, pan-fried “pi pa” bean curd in oyster sauce etc etc) on the menu and honestly, none could beat the simple homemade tofu from Pu Tien. That said, I featured this because the eggplant (ironically being the “supporting lead”) had great flavours and texture!

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豆酱蒸鲈鱼
Steamed Chilean Sea bass with Black Bean Sauce

The steamed chilean sea bass with preserved olives was actually recommended by the staff but I much prefer the black bean sauce version! Naturally oily, fresh and tender, I had multiple servings of this!

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爆炒本地龙虾(姜葱炒)
Sautéed Lobster with Spring Onion and Ginger (additional $18++)

Highlight of my meal: lobsters!!

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爆炒本地龙虾(南瓜酱炒)
Sautéed Lobster with Spicy Pumpkin Sauce (additional $18++)

We had to agree to disagree on this one: K voted for the spring onion version while I (of course!) went for the plate of meaty lobsters coated with a delish spicy pumpkin sauce. This is the same sauce used for the “Sautéed Live Prawn with Spicy Pumpkin Sauce” and here’s a tip if you are ordering this: ask for the prawns to be de-shelled first before cooking so that you won’t waste all that golden goodness after peeling the shells away~

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杏仁茶芋泥
Almond Cream with Yam Paste

“One of each, except the seasonal fruit platter” – that was our order for desserts haha. There’s hot walnut cream with black sesame dumpling (yes, singular because it’s just one big fat dumpling per serving), chilled cream of mango with lime jelly, shaved coconut ice with strawberries (it’s actually not ice but ice cream!), red bean pancake, buttery pineapple cookies (heard that these will be on sale for CNY!), and serving the best for the last: nutty almond cream with creamy yam paste!

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Jade restaurant’s A La Carte Buffet Dinner is available till 30 December 2013 from 6.30 to 11pm at $58++ per adult and $38++ per child (6 to 11 years old).

Special thanks to Joyce for the kind invitation! See you again soon!

Jade Restaurant
Ground Floor, Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
6877 8188

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I reckon the best thing about Nara Thai Restaurant is not the food per se but its fabulous location in ION Orchard, and the seemingly endless menu! So it’s really important to know what you like and be strategically smart when ordering. Otherwise, just pick off the chef’s recommendation menu and chances of hitting a meh dish are pretty much minimized.

My personal favourites are the appetizing pomelo salad and the yellow curry soft shell crab! But if you prefer savoury stuff, stay away from them as they tend to be on the sweeter side. To balance the sweetness, I like the Tom Yum Kung and the fried dill omelette patties soup, both spicy enough to make me sniff (just a little haha). Skip the crab meat omelette, which was an oily disaster. For a fun and colourful DIY dessert, the coconut ice cream is a must!

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Yum Som O ($13.90++)
pomelo salad

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Phunim Phad Pong Karee ($18.90++)
stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry

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From top right, clockwise:

Kaeng Som Cha Om Kung Sod ($17.90++): hot and spicy soup with prawns and fried dill omelette patties;
Kaeng Kiew Wan Gai ($13.90++): green curry with chicken;
Kai Jiew Nua Phu ($12.90++): crab meat omelette;
Tom Yum Kung ($19.90++): river prawns in spicy lemongrass and lime soup;
homemade red rubies with jackfruit strips, young coconut and thai milk tea.

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Nara’s Coconut Ice-cream ($8.80++)
condiments: corn, red ruby, chendol, nata de coco, roasted peanuts, sticky rice, sweet potato, atap seed

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My thanks to Karina for hosting dinner!

Nara Thai Restaurant
#B3-21, ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
6634 5787

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