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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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In retrospect, it seems that I’ve been making annual pilgrimages to The Waterfall ever since 2012! This year is more special as The Waterfall is no more – or rather, renamed and rebranded as Waterfall Ristorante Italiano, an Italian restaurant helmed by Chef de Cuisine Marco De Vincentis. Expect authentic and unique Southern Italian cuisine that combines fresh seafood, handmade pastas and heirloom recipes!

Parmigiana Di Melanzane ($20++)
eggplants, parmigiano, tomatoes

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Let’s talk wine first before food. While the wine collection is extensive, I’d say just go for the smooth and easy-to-drink Nero d’Avola, Waterfall’s house wine made from the most important red wine grape in Sicily and served in a unique cup known as boccalino.

Tagliolini Al Pesto Siciliano ($22++)
homemade pasta, tomato, ricotta cheese, pine nut, basil, roasted almond

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Pair Nero d’Avola with some antipasti such as the popular seafood salad (I found it average though) and parmigiana, an aubergine bake. The latter uses carefully-sourced eggplants layered with generous lashings of tomato sauce and melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese. A must try!

Paccheri All’astice ($32++)
homemade pasta, lobster sauce, tomatoes, brandy, chilli, basil, parsley, evoo

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Pasta dishes feature prominently on the menu, all painstakingly homemade. There’s linguine (with plenty of seafood), tagliolini (amazing nutty pesto!), lasagne (a crispy version, if you can imagine it) and my pick out of the lot – paccheri tossed and evenly coated with a rich lobster sauce.

Stufato Di Pesce ($68++, min 2 pax)
seafood stew, tomatoes, garlic, garden herbs

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Don’t leave without trying the tomato-based signature seafood stew! Sun-ripped tomatoes flavoured with garlic form the base for all the seafood you can think of – from lobsters, prawns and snapper to scallops, mussels and clams! So hearty and satisfying.

Tagliata Di Manzo Rucola E Grana ($38-56++)
premium beef, capsicum, rocket leaves, parmesan cheese

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Fans of beef will not want to miss the grilled beef marinated with extra virgin olive oil and capsicum. Choose either striploin black angus 120 days grain fed, tenderloin hunter valley grain fed or wagyu rib eye 5+. Me, I’ll stick to the pan-fried sole, perfumed with parsley, lemon juice and that all-important ingredient – butter, of course!

Sogliola al Limone ($38++)
sole, butter, asparagus

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I’ve always enjoyed Waterfall’s take on the classic tiramisu and it didn’t disappoint. Another traditional dessert is the torta caprese, a safe but decadent chocolate cake named for and originating from the beautiful island of Capri.

Tiramisu ($15++)
coffee infused sponge, mascarpone cream

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If I can only have one dessert (worst nightmare ever!), it will be the freshly made zabaione – light whipped custard primarily made with egg yolks, sugar, and interestingly spiked with sweet moscato and intense espresso!

Zabaione All’Espresso ($14++)
zabaione, moscato, espresso

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My thanks to Cheryl, Joleena and Josephine for hosting dinner!

Waterfall Ristorante Italiano
Garden Wing, Level One, Shangri-La Hotel
22 Orange Grove Road
6213 4138

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The Catch Seafood Restaurant puts the foodie mantra “have food will travel” to a good test. It’s seriously the most remote, distant, far–flung (and whatever synonyms of ulu you can think of) restaurant we’ve ever been to in Singapore! With the aid of GPS and my bff Google map, we finally navigated to Johore Battery. Yes, the Singapore historical site because that’s where The Catch is located!

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Other than being a restaurant, The Catch also brings in live seafood from overseas (ask for a tour around the outdoor giant tanks!) and supplies them to hotels/restaurants. That’s why the food here is so affordable without much markup. The menu offers a vast variety of seafood delicacies (deep sea Alaskan king crabs and lobsters!) and classic local favourites – I counted more than 127 items!

Chef Marinated Cold Japanese Cucumber ($5++)
冰镇黄瓜

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Since there’s only K to divide and conquer with me, I was very careful when “curating” our dinner menu, making sure that I picked dishes which I know we will like as long as they are properly executed by the chef. From the appetizer section, we had a refreshing cold dish of marinated crunchy Japanese cucumber and then ditched the healthy plan for tender deep fried cuttlefish lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Both whetted my appetite for more!

Deep Fried Cuttlefish with Pepper & Salt ($8++)
椒盐鲜鱿须

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And “more” came in the form of these delicious golden discs of eggplant coated with salted egg yolk! Soft and creamy on the inside, crispy and thin batter on the outside, they were amazing – strong and rich in flavour but not overwhelmingly so!

Crispy Brinjal with Salted Egg Yolk ($6++)
黄金茄子

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K loves his soups, regardless of how crazy hot the weather is nowadays. The double-boiled peppery fish soup with bunashimeji mushroom and bamboo pith ($28++) was the highlight for him (and even for me, a non-soup fan!) — pure cuddly comfort liquid food in a bowl! Sorry I don’t have a good pic of it but just imagine how warm and soothing it is to the soul, ahhhhh~

Red Flower Crab Steamed with Egg White & Chinese Wine (seasonal price)
鸡油花雕蒸

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We ordered a couple of crabs prepared in extremely different styles. Steamed red flower crab may not as meaty as its counterparts but it was so naturally sweet and juicy! And if you are a carb junkie, that silky smooth egg white and decadent crab roe will suffice as toppings for multiple servings of plain rice! Then of course we had to try The Catch’s take on the famous chilli crab. Won’t say it’s the best in Singapore but it was fresh, big and super satisfying. Especially the thick fragrant gravy which my spoon kept going back for!

Chilli Crab served with Dough Fritter or Bun (seasonal price)
辣椒炒(油条或馒头)

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Unless you are the type with a personal vendetta against artificial truffle oil, I’d strongly recommend the sauteed lobster meat with truffle oil on egg white (do you see the theme here — seafood, egg, seafood, and more egg)! Simple yet elegant. Dinner went very well but ended on a weak note — desserts. The double boiled hashima with lotus seeds was tooth-achingly sweet and we left them untouched. Lesson learnt: stick to the savouries! Now I have about 101 dishes left to tackle!

Braised Noodle with Seafood in XO Sauce ($14++)
虾米酱茄子焖面

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Special thanks to Danny for hosting dinner!

The Catch Seafood Restaurant & Bar
27 Cosford Road
6546 2155

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We’ve been to Jamie’s Italian numerous times but it’s always for dinner; so glad that we finally made it for breakfast! I love how bright the whole restaurant looks in the day, and it suits our happy mood perfectly on a Saturday! Jamie’s has started serving breakfast on the weekends, and I mean breakfast literally – it ends at 11.30am so definitely does not qualify as lazy brunch which begins after noon.

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The comprehensive menu is broken down into pan-cooked breakfast (naked chef style!), butties (all served in seeded buns with ketchup), toast/cereal/sweets (think freshly baked breads, granola and american-style berry or bacon and banana pancakes), kids’ breakfast (smaller portions of selected items from the “adult” menu) and beverages from the usual coffee/tea and juices/smoothies to brekkie cocktails! Never too early for a glass (or two) of prosecco, mimosa or bloody mary, aye?

Brilliant Berry Breakfast ($9++)
mixed berry compote, smashed toasted nuts, artisanal yoghurt, honey

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I totally dig the creamy artisanal yoghurt topped with tart berry compote and sweet honey (supposed to have nuts too but they were missing hmm), beautiful and my kind of healthy breakfast any day! Speaking of which, I’ve been solely eating fruits for breakfast for the past decade (and counting) so the plate of mango, kiwi, banana and strawberry was another dish right up my alley. Pricey tag aside, I like how the simple fruits were jazzed up with a touch of zesty and crumbly lemon ricotta!

Breakfast Fruit Plate ($15.50++)
freshly cut fruit, lemon ricotta, berries, honey

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No doubt, my favourite was one of Jamie’s classics – smashed ripe avocado set on a crisp toasted ciabatta! Too few places in Singapore do smashed avocado right. Jamie’s take is rather special; rich and buttery avocado that’s a little spicy and has the distinct vinegar tang from Worcestershire sauce, lovely!

Smashed Spicy Avocado ($12.50++)
toasted ciabatta, vine-roasted cherry tomatoes, worcestershire sauce

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The other classic of scrambled eggs and salmon didn’t fare as well. Eggs were not bad, but the supposedly gently poached salmon was overcooked…

Scrambled Eggs & Salmon ($15.50++)
freedom range eggs, poached Norwegian salmon, toasted ciabatta

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Last but not least, breakfast is not breakfast without the big breakfast! I think this is the most value-for-money dish – there’s so much going on in a pan! Almost 10 different components (you get your meat and veggies) and despite the amount of food on our table, K single-handedly polished this off! If that’s not the highest compliment, I don’t know what is.

The Works ($19.50++)
toulouse sausage, pork & honey sausage, outdoor-reared streaky bacon, choice of freedom range egg, vine-roasted cherry tomatoes, homemade baked beans, garlic & thyme oven-roasted portobello mushroom, spinach, toast

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Special thanks to Stef for arranging breakfast!

Jamie’s Italian
#01-165/167, VivoCity
1 HarbourFront Walk
6733 5500

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It’s not an exaggeration when I say Brizo‘s latest promotion ‘Crazier about Crabs‘ is really all about crabs!

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K was hoping for some beef/chicken for his meal but (sadly for him, fortunately for me) almost everything is in one crab form or the other. In fact, the spread features 22 types of crab dishes and 26 kinds of seafood – heaven for pescetarians but not so much for K who is not that into crabs oops. Aprons and gloves are thoughtfully provided but using hands is always the best!

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Into its second year now (because the first year was a hit!), one of the new unique star dishes is the cooked-to-order ‘Crab in a Pan‘. Each pan contains a whole crab, prawns, clams, black mussels, potatoes, corn and sausages. We had ours cooked in bouillabaisse and it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own!

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Even though the variety is so wide, I made sure I tried every single crab! All-time favourites can be found – sweet-piquant chilli crab (a Brizo signature!), salted egg yolk crab (batter too thick, skip), butter crab (sauce too heavy, skip again), black pepper crab (I like this!), “heavenly fragrance” crab, steamed XO crab, Indian spice flower crab masala (the best out of the lot thanks to the aromatic gravy).

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There’s also crabmeat kueh pie tee, crabmeat fried rice, soft shell crab and baked crab in shell – all of which I didn’t try since I was saving stomach space for the more important stuff ha. Luckily for K, he found the laksa corner! Seriously, it was apparently so good that he had two servings! We balanced the savoury with sweets from the dessert corner – mini magnum (my first ever, un-un-un-un-unbelievable right) and homemade durian pengat hit all the right spots!

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Crazier about Crabs
Ends on 28 June 2015; Buffet dinner only
Wednesday to Thursday: Adult $68++ / Child $34++
Friday to Sunday: Adult $80++ / Child $40++

My thanks to Yan and Licya for arranging dinner!

Brizo Restaurant & Bar
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
1 Unity Street
Singapore 237983
6593 8888

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Named after the address of Mandarin Orchard Hotel – 333 Orchard Road – Triple Three usually offers a spread of Japanese-inspired international buffet but from now till 26 April 2015, it’s game on for The Great Big American Buffet!

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At the launch event on 9 April, we were lucky to witness the making of Singapore’s first giant burger! Over 60kg of beef, 100 whole eggs, 15kg of flour and 5kg of onions were used to set a new mark in the Singapore Book of Records for the Largest Hamburger in Singapore. The burger measured 82cm by 40cm and weighed approximately more than 100kg! That’s more than twice my weight omg. It was rather scary and so unreal. But genuine it was as the mammoth burger was later sliced and distributed to all guests at the event after the SBOR certificate was presented to the hotel for the achievement, well done!

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As for the restaurant’s Great Big American Buffet which is available only during dinner and Sunday brunch, expect iconic American dishes made from air-flown ingredients from the good ole USA. Nowadays it takes a lot to impress me because I still believe buffets earn their bucks from selling quantity than quality. But K and I were pleasantly surprised – not only was the selection extensive, the standard was pretty darn high for a buffet. We loved that there were several cooking stations where chefs cooked our food a la minute – freshly sliced sashimi, grilled Boston lobsters, New England clam chowder, hand carved oven-roasted US prime beef, fajitas and tacos, mini sliders with Monterey Jack cheese and so much more (you must try the whole roasted halibut – I went back for it thrice)!

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Desserts were definitely not an afterthought over here. Classic American sugary treats include New York cheesecake, berry trifle, chocolate fudge, blackforest cake, tri-chocolate cream pie and pecan pie. Then there’s also the liquid chocolate fondue (seems to be a must-have at any self-respecting buffets these days), opera cake, mousse, ice cream and even cute little molten chocolate cakes! There’s nothing quite like an awesome sweet finish yeah (spot the American slang ha).

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The Great Big American Buffet
Price: $108++ (adult) / $42++ (child)
Promotion: Citibank card holders are entitled to 50% off for every second diner!

My thanks to Ikram for the kind invitation!

Triple Three
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road
6831 6288/6271

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