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It was such a privilege to meet Chef Cat Cora in person when she was in town to introduce the new seafood dinner set menu at Ocean Restaurant. Fangirl moment aside, I really did enjoy the new menu more than the previous one!

I’ve never cared for oysters so when the 6-course menu ($168++) started with the amuse bouche of fresh oyster, I wasn’t too excited. Luckily the sautéed langoustines which followed was perfect – firm juicy flesh served alongside crustacean cream and baby fennel, delicious! Likewise the torched brown trout which Chef de Cuisine Yew Eng Tong recreated from his win at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Asian by pairing it with smoked eel and then rounding off with refreshing crunchy cucumber and caviar vinaigrette.

My favourite was hands down the charred corn soup – something different yet comforting. One of the restaurant’s signature ingredients, the blue swimmer crab was made into a crispy fritter and and the thick hearty soup had an alluring smokey flavour. Final main course was a moist slab of sustainable cod fillet from New Zealand – I still remember the layer of brittle scales! For dessert, the rocky grand cru chocolate was a dreamy chocolate creation. The elegantly plated dish had a base of bitter chocolate, passion fruit creme at the side, and various textures of chocolate in sponge and mousse forms, so good!

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Fresh Oyster
passion fruit, watermelon salsa

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Torched Brown Trout “Fabio”
smoked eel, crunchy cucumber, caviar vinaigrette

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Sautéed Langoustine
crustacean cream, baby fennel, leek, soft herb

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Charred Corn Soup
beignet of blue swimmer crab, bacon crumble

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Cod Fish
chorizo, smoke potato

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Rocky Grand Cru
bitter chocolate rock, passion fruit creme, textures of chocolate

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Will never tire of this view!

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Many thanks to Charmaine and Lavinia for hosting dinner!

Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora
8 Sentosa Gateway
S.E.A. Aquarium, Level B1M
6577 6688

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P. Bistro has come a long way. It began as a small shophouse space along Owen Road serving simple Asian-inspired Western fare and French classics, and gained enough loyal fans and regulars to open a second outlet at Palais Renaisaance. Don’t be put off by the atas location though; the bistro is still sticking to the basic values of offering tasty, wholesome food at reasonable prices.

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K shocked me when he ordered two items which I absolutely will not order in a restaurant – garlic bread and chicken wings, omg!! Ha. To be fair, these are two of the most popular appetizers and light bites on the menu. Let me just say that both were very good – nothing beats freshly roasted garlic paste and well-marinated wings right?

Garlic Bread ($5++)
baked farm loaf bread, freshly roasted garlic paste

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BBQ Chicken Wings ($12++; half portion show below)
fresh chicken wings, chef’s special homemade marinade, chilli sauce on the side

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Salads here are substantial enough to be mains. I wanted to try the Thai-style pomelo salad but decided to go with the staff’s recommendation of prawn avocado mango salad. No regrets whatsoever! The colourful combination of juicy prawns, creamy avocado and tangy mango was a wonderful prelude to the real mains. Pomelo salad, next time!

Prawn Avocado Mango Salad ($20++)
cherry tomatoes, romaine rocket, japanese sesame dressing

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One of the most noteworthy dishes is the dory fillet coated with a special nonya gravy (secret recipe!) and cooked on a banana leaf. Beautiful and flavourful! P.S. the spicy, sweet, sour and deliciously crunchy achar on the side was delish too.

Nonya Dory ($18++)
chef’s signature nonya, dory fillet cooked on banana leaf, fragrant duo jasmine rice, fried egg

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K’s best burger to-date is Kua ‘Aina in Tokyo (even President Barack Obama likes it!) and the P.Bistro beef burger may be his second favourite so far.

P.Bistro Beef Burger ($22++)
open-faced burger, beef patty, pickles, caramelized onions

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Served open-faced, the generous slab of beef patty was tender and juicy – but surprisingly not greasy at all. We did think that an addition of avocado will make this a killer burger!

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When the salmon was served, I cringed inwardly because it looked overcooked. Wow, not only was I wrong, the fish was so moist and still pinkish in the middle! Lesson learnt, don’t judge a fish by its cover.

42° Sous-vide Salmon ($22++)
pan-seared 42° sous-vide salmon, crushed purple potato, seasonal greens

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The homemade desserts selection looked very tempting. The croissants baked with original Lurpak butter and Elle et Vire dry butter were already sold out by dinnertime so we turned our attention to the cakes. Matcha azuki dome had weak green tea flavour so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Luckily the chocolate mont blanc (love the strands of chestnut mousse with a dark chocolate core!) and light pistachio chiffon cake made with organic coconut oil were as gorgeous to look at as they were delightful to eat!

Desserts ($6-8.50++)
matcha azuki entremet; chocolate mont blanc, pistachio chiffon cake

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Special thanks to Pang for introducing P. Bistro to us!

P. Bistro
#B1-06, Palais Renaisaance
390 Orchard Road
6734 9268

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With the arrival of new Executive Chef Antonio Massagli, Buttero (or Tuscan Cowboy) returns to its classic Italian roots and presents a hearty slice of Tuscan fare and other well-loved Italian dishes in an inspired new menu. Hailing from Lucca, a small town in Tuscany (I want to go!), Chef Antonio, a born-and-raised Buttero, serves up the clean, simple flavours of authentic Italian cuisine that he grew up enjoying and preparing in his countryside home.

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His parmigiana is honestly one of the best versions I’ve tried in Singapore! Thin eggplant slices are grilled instead of fried, then layered with a combination of freshly made tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. The cast iron pan which landed on our table had a generous portion of baked eggplant with more tomato sauce and pesto oil. Delicious and surprisingly light!

Parmigiana di Melanzane ($18++)
baked eggplant, tomato, parmesan, basil flan

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At Buttero, all the thin crust pizzas are proudly made with imported Italian mozzarella. The pizza dough is hand tossed, apparently the gentlest way to shape and form a crust. Prego is K’s first love when it comes to pizzas and this came in a close second! He almost single-handedly finished the whole pizza!

Parma e Rucola ($24++)
mozzarella, tomato, prosciutto, rocket salad

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An Italian menu cannot do without any pastas, of course. Made in-house, the hearty squid ink pasta was decent but other than the umami-packed prawns bisque, it was rather forgettable and not something I’d order again.

Tagliolini Neri ($25++)
prawns bisque, prawns, herbs, cherry tomatoes, capsicum

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A first for us was the Crespelle Fiorentina, a classic Florentine dish. I’m sure you’ve had crepes before but an Italian style one? Imagine thin pasta sheets filled with spinach and ricotta, and crowned with béchamel and pesto oil. Naturally sweetened with finely chopped raisins, the dish also had a subtle hint of nutmeg, very interesting!

Crespelle Fiorentina ($20++)
gratinated ricotta & spinach crepe, béchamel, tomato, basil sauce

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Next was a sausage and bread dish – a typical Tuscan dish that was enjoyed by Chef Antonio as a child where the cannellini beans were left to braise slowly in a wine bottle by an open fire while his family worked out in the fields. Sausage is made with minced pork and a selection of mixed herbs while the amazingly soft yet firm beans are cooked with fresh cherry tomatoes and sage.

Salsiccia e Fagioli ($30++)
pork sausage, white cannellini bean, homemade truffle focaccia

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We tried more than half the dessert menu (3 out of 5 ha) and our unanimous vote went to the affogato! Not the usual affogato, Buttero’s rendition had double scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with a polenta cookie crumble, accompanied by an espresso shot and a shot of Frangelico, a hazelnut liquor. Pour them in (messily) and we had ourselves a wonderful post-dinner treat! The other two desserts of tiramisu and molten chocolate cake were adequate for a sugar fix but definitely not as impressive as the affogato!

Affogato ($12++)
latte ice-cream, frangelico, esspresso, crushed cookies

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Special thanks to Samantha for such an entertaining evening!

Buttero
54 Tras Street
6438 7737

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The Rabbit Stash used to be stashed away (ha) in an old shop house unit within a condominium but has since moved to a brand new spot on the rooftop of WANGZ Hotel in the eclectic enclave of Tiong Bahru. Born in the year of the rabbit (which explains the restaurant name), Chef Matthew is one brave man who defies the odds – master degree holder in building construction management who switched to a culinary career; trained locally without any overseas apprenticeship with big-name chefs; ideas come from his travel experiences and interaction with people. Sounds Heston Blumenthal-ish aye?

During dinner, the seasonal ‘ENSOPHI’ menu is available, inspired by the 7 characteristics of Exotic, Nostalgia, Soil, Ocean, Pristine, Heritage, Impression ($148+ for 7-course, $108+ 5-course, $90+ 4-course). Each element represents an artistic expression of his dish and the beautiful plating certainly reflects that! Because the price won’t make this an everyday meal, I’d save The Rabbit Stash on my list as a romantic place to celebrate a special occasion *hint hint to K* My favourite course was ‘Ocean’ – Hokkaido scallop paired with squid ink-infused seaweed, smoked trout topped with caviar, battered shrimp on goreng pisang-like mash, a lot going on on the plate but I love the freshness and variety! What about you? :)

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The goodness of artisanal produce is best savoured at its purest form without alteration or addition to the intrinsic flavour. Chef Matthew keeps his dishes pristine by sourcing fresh local organic ingredients daily.

Pristine
langoustine, cabbage dashi, 1st born egg, brown rice

Picture: Amuse-Bouche Platter
potato chips, onion jam, lotus chips, meat balls, smoked salmon crostini

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The uniqueness of each soil connects differently to the greatness of our land. Chef Matthew gains inspiration from what our soil has to offer. It allows him to select the best of the season and marry earthy flavours with protein from grazing land animals.

Soil
asparagus, beurre noisette, beetroot “mushroom” olive

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The ocean calms the soul, opens the mind, and fuels the passion. Inspired by the extraordinary beauty and abundant offering of the ocean, Chef Matthew spruces his menus with oceanic greens and algae, from sea lettuce to stone moss.

Ocean
scallop, black”coral”, smoked trout, shrimp & chips

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There will be beautiful flavours, new and old that one has tasted at some point in their life, etched deeply in memory. Chef Matthew seeks to fulfill his customers’ fond food memories by reconnecting them with his dishes. It is very much like a dopamine reward system when a food craving is satisfied.

Nostalgia
purple crab, black roe, lobster broth

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Life is like a canvass imprinted with impressions of people, scenarios, places, animals, seasons, flora and fauna. Every impression has several characteristics that co-exist and co-relate with personal life experiences. Chef Matthew’s creations are based on his impressions of the food, people and culture from his travels abroad.

Impression
berkshire pig, potato “mud”, watermelon

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It is true that heritage carries a familiar taste from our roots. Chef Matthew recreates food that he grew up eating or is cooked by his grandparents, mother and aunts. Brought up in a Peranakan family, he saw familiar ingredients done in a different way. Expect a facelift on fish head curry, a kuey salat makeover or a reinvention of Nonya assam prawns in his dishes!

Heritage
beef jowl, barley porridge, sesame, red date

Picture: Ocean Catch Confit
from the lunch menu

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It is near impossible to try every flavour in a lifetime but Chef Matthew attempts to create unique flavour pairings with simple and exotic ingredients from around the world. This makes his cooking more exciting; not knowing what could be the next revolutionary flavour. It may sound unthinkable but green curry ice cream goes astonishingly well with mango mascarpone.

Exotic
mango fromage blanc, snow pear, green curry, rose

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My thanks to Melody for hosting dinner!

The Rabbit Stash
WANGZ Hotel
231 Outram Road, Level R
9858 8607

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“Cooking With Friends” is back at Osia!

This time, Celebrity Chef Scott Webster has invited Executive Chef Andrew Turner from Hotel Café Royal in London as the guest chef. Together, the dynamic duo has designed a menu consisting of Osia’s signatures and Chef Turner’s specially created dishes for his stint here.

Reinterpreting traditional flavours with a contemporary spin, some of his key dishes are the appetizer of pea and mint veloute and main of black angus beef. The former is paired with comte cheese to create a smooth creamy base for the thyme ravioli while cutting through the brininess of the addictive anchovy flute; whereas the latter is given an Asian twist through the accompanying bok choy and sweet and sour Hong Kong sauce – quoting our waiter: “a Chinese-ish dish done by an English chef”! The dessert of “neaten” mess is his take on the classic English dessert, Eton mess. I thought it was smart to add a scoop of tangy lemon ice cream, otherwise the mixture of strawberries and meringue would be too sweet.

As for Osia’s, I already did a write-up earlier this year and was happy for the chance to refresh my memory of some of the dishes – still loving the freshly baked flat bread and soft-textured shiromiso perch! Not so much the grilled octopus this time as they were too chewy, giving my jaws a good (and unnecessary) workout!

The “Cooking With Friends” menu ends this Saturday, 16 May.

Stone Hearth Flat Bread ($11++)
macadamia pesto, truffled kalamata olive, butter, tomato paste

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Pea and Mint Veloute ($22++)
comte cheese and thyme ravioli, smoked anchovy flute

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Fremantle Octopus ($22++)
char grilled, cucumber apple slaw, green chilli jam

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Hokkaido Scallop and Bryon Bay Pork Belly ($62++)
piccalilli puree

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Foie Gras ($32++)
pan fried, banana textures, madagascar vanilla, jamaican rum

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Perch ($46++)
sesame ratte potato, pea tendril, soy milk curd, shiromiso glaze

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Grainge Black Angus Beef Fillet MS2 ($68++)
oxtail anna potato, bok choy, sweet and sour hong kong sauce

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Before…

Neaten Mess ($18++)
strawberry, thyme

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… After!

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My thanks to Lavinia for hosting dinner!

Osia
Resorts World Festive Walk Crockfords Tower
8 Sentosa Gateway
6577 6560

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What used to be Sushi Kuu at Palais Renaissance is now Ginzawa, meaning ‘Silver River’ in Japanese. Price points are friendlier with an extensive menu of traditional Japanese fare elevated with a modern twist, from kaiseki and seasonal omakase to lunch set dons and chirashi.

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Our meal began with a refreshingly light salad of briny-sweet cherry blossom shrimp and slightly pungent mizuna greens. Thereafter came something more interesting – the sake kinuta maki, a pretty and delicately rolled pickled daikon and salmon that brings to mind intricate kaiseki dishes.

Sakura Ebi Mizuna Salad ($22++)

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I seldom eat fried food but when I do, they better deserve my calories! The tempura moriawase is definitely one of those sinful worthy dishes – an assortment of deep-fried sea eel, shrimps, veggies and the most memorable uni tempura because it was my first fried uni! I do think it is a waste to fry fresh seafood but you won’t hear me complaining when those decadent crisp seaweed pillows were filled with lusciously creamy uni~

Deluxe Tempura Moriawase ($35++)
anago ippon age, uni tempura, amaebi hotate kakiage

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The grilled snapper was a revelation. I thought it was gindara – it looked like one and melted perfectly in the mouth like cod does! But nope, chef decided to use snapper instead, brushing it with a layer of caramelised egg yolk sauce and paired with a juicy squid ring stuffed with shishamo roe. Brilliant dish and one I would return for!

Tai Moto Yaki ($22++)
grilled snapper with egg yolk sauce

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The kurobuta tsuke soba comprises of succulent kurobuta pork shabu shabu slices and cold soba served with hot dipping sauce perfumed with a dollop of grated citrusy yuzu. Compared to the other dishes, this was average and forgettable though.

Kurobuta Tsuke Soba ($20++)

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During lunch, rice bowls such as bara chirashi, Japanese A5 wagyu don and kurobuta katsu don are available. Not to be missed is the sanshoku takara don! I call it the “three treasures” don – generous servings of sea urchin (K gave me his share of uni, score!), salmon roe and chopped fatty tuna cover a bed of sushi rice.

Sanshoku Takara Don ($65++)
only available in lunch set that comes with miso soup, chanwanmushi and dessert

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To enjoy a variety of premium seafood, the chirashi don is a safe bet. Words are superfluous when all the ingredients are so fresh!

Tokusen Hokkai Chirashi Don ($50++)
only available in lunch set that comes with miso soup, chanwanmushi and dessert

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My thanks to Charmaine for hosting dinner!

Ginzawa Japanese Restaurant
#01-07 Palais Renaissance
390 Orchard Road
6736 0100

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I’m very cautious when it comes to carbs since they are so dangerous to the waistline ha. But my willpower stood no chance against the lovingly kneaded and baked loaves of breads and pastries from authentic French boulangerie and patisserie Do.Main Bakery!

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Other than offering a range of freshly baked baguettes, chouquettes (grab a packet, these sell out fast!), puff pastries, tarts, danish pastries, choux pastries and entremets, Do.Main Bakery has rolled out a new savoury menu based on home-style classics all done via the oven (yes, no stoves in the kitchen!), jointly created by chef­‐owner Frederic Deshayes and chef-owner of Bar-Roque Grill, Stephane Istel.

Thin Crust Baker’s Pizza ($8-9)
onions, hams, olives or zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms

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So why the focus on oven-baked/cooked dishes? Well, it’s to pay tribute to the baker’s role during the olden times in France. In the era before stoves were invented, farmers used to prepare dinner by putting the ingredients in a cast iron pot in the morning, and drop them off at the bakery on the way to the fields. The baker would pop the pots into his warm oven, and the meal would be slow-cooked by the end of the day. That story sure put things into perspective as I was studying the menu!

Octopus Romesco Salad ($15)
homemade sourdough toast bread

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The platter of artisanal charcuterie comprises of three meaty selections. Chef Stephane, who hails from the Alsace region, an area celebrated for its hearty French-style charcuterie, curates the selection which will chance monthly depending on seasonal ingredients. Freshness is of utmost importance here!

Charcuterie Platter ($20)
duck pistachio pates, pork rillettes, kurobuta ham, assorted artisanal bread

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I expected pizza and lasagne to be on the menu and bingo! The thin crust pizzas made good little appetizers and perfect for sharing while the meatless lasagne was full-bodied with a plethora of fresh veggies, melted cheese and vibrant tomato sauce. For something lighter, the tender octopus romesco salad was expertly prepared with none of that chewiness which I dislike.

Lasagne ($14)
vegetarian

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A heady mix of reblochon cheese, bacon, potato and confit onions, the “Tartiflette” was a pleasant surprise! I thought it’d be a pretty heavy dish but it was so rich and flavourful that I could have finished it all on my own. That’s the ultimate French home comfort food, as is the familiar cassolette of garlicky bourguignon snails.

Cassolette Oven-Baked Escargots ($16); Tartiflette ($16)
oven baked reblochon cheese

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The “Broken Eggs” is baked until half-cooked on a stone bake oven, and then served piping hot with strips of toasted cereal bread for dipping. Watch this video to see how we ate eggs, French style! We almost didn’t order the tomato confit version but I’m awfully glad we did in the end – this was the best savoury dish of the evening imo! You can also choose to have it plain or with cream and bacon.

Ouefs Au Plat ($15)
broken eggs, tomato confit, mouilletes

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No one should leave Do.Main Bakery without trying the gorgeous desserts! Tangy lemon cream tart, salted caramel and chocolate eclairs, decadent royal chocolate cake, praline-filled Paris-Brest – it’s difficult to pick an absolute favourite so I shall not try!

Lemon Cream Tart ($5); Royal Chocolate Cake ($8)

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I also heard good things about the choux cream puffs and macarons but those have to wait till the next visit.

Eclair ($5); Paris-Brest ($5)

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Thank you for hosting us, Jenny!

Do.Main Bakery
226 Tanjong Katong Road
6348 1406

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