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I don’t quite get the hype and raves over National Kitchen. Most of the dishes are average-nice but definitely nothing spectacular nor memorable. For a truly kickass Peranakan meal, I’ll head to Candlenut any day!

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Standard starters such as achar and rojak were good but not great. If you like refined hawker dishes, it’s time to make a reservation here.

Sambal Timun Nanas ($4++)
pineapple and cucumber with chillies, onions and lightly sweet rice vinegar

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The most special item we ordered was the “kimchiam” salad. I have never had this combination before – boiled prawns, sweet and slightly tangy starfruit, chewy dried lily buds, all tied together by a spicy chilli dressing. Interesting!

Sambal Kimchiam Udang ($15++)
lily buds tossed in a sweet and spicy dressing topped with prawns and starfruit

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Rojak ($7++)
guava, sour mangoes, rose apples, pineapple, cucumbers, julienne of pink ginger flowers, jellyfish and crispy crullers tossed in a sweet, sour and mildly spicy sauce

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We were expecting the chicken buah keluak to be served with a thick fragrant gravy (maybe I went to Candlenut too many times) but the diluted version here was disappointingly akin to… Chicken curry?

Buah Keluak Ayam ($23++)
classic nyonya spicy and tangy chicken stew and buah keluak nut infused with fresh root spices of lengkuas and turmeric

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I first tried the meatless meatballs back in 2013 at Violet Oon’s Kitchen and liked them a lot. Fast forward two years, the walnut and cheese “meatballs” turned out too mushy on my visit and could really do with a crisp crust.

Meatless Meatballs Rendang ($15++)
walnut and cheese dumplings braised in spices flavoured with kaffir and bay leaves in a coconut cream sauce

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The description of “cod in laksa sauce” already had me salivating and thankfully, the execution was exactly what I imagined it to be. The fresh slab of fatty cod went very well with the sinfully rich and creamy laksa sauce. May be overwhelming for some people but it’s right up my alley!

Cod in Laksa Sauce ($34++)
baked cod in a creamy laksa sauce drizzled with coriander pesto

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National Kitchen by Violet Oon
1 St. Andrew’s Road
#02–01 National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing)
+65 9834 9935

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From now till 31 December, be spoilt for choice at Quayside Isle @ Sentosa Cove with a host of dining treats which is sure to cater to all preferences!

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Everyone knows Kith Cafe (#01-08) is famous for hearty brunch dishes but how about its special Kithmas menu? There’s honeycomb whisky mocha/chocolate ($7.80++/$9.80++ for iced versions), furikake crab cake and eggs with corn quinoa and crushed avocado ($20++), French black mussels in tomato broth ($18++) and a chestnut tart filled with granola crumble and vanilla cream ($10++)! Is it just me or does everything sound delicious?!

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At Saint Pierre (#01-15), the Christmas Eve Dinner set menu is available on 24 December from 7pm and Christmas Lunch Roast is available on 25 December from 11.30am to 3pm. New Year’s Eve Caviar Dinner is available on 31 December from 7pm.

Prices: Christmas Eve Dinner – $188 per person (Additional $288 per person for 3-hour free flow of selected champagne or $188 per person for wine pairing). Christmas Lunch Roast – $98 per person. New Year’s Eve Caviar Dinner – $228 per person (without wine pairing), $388 per person (with wine pairing), $558 for 2 persons (includes 1 bottle of Duval-Leroy NV), $748 for 2 persons (includes 1 bottle of Dom Perignon 2004).

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From 6pm throughout the month of December, feast through a Festive Christmas Dinner Set ($68++) at Quayside Fish Bar & Bistro (#01-11). Take your pick from two main courses, both meticulously curated by the chef. The first main course option includes a foie gras stuffed turkey breast while the second main course option consists of a pan seared whole rainbow trout in a saffron lychee broth and ratatouille. Both main courses come with butternut pumpkin velouté paired with herb croutons, truffle oil and edible flowers, and a white and dark chocolate mousse log cake adorned with pink vanilla glaze, hazelnuts and raspberry compote.

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Last but not least, enjoy a hearty Christmas Family Brunch with a live oyster station and giant turkey paella at Sabio By The Sea, Tapas Bar and Grill (#01-02). Available only on 25 December from 12pm to 3pm, do not miss the chance to excite your taste buds with the flavours of Spain!

Price: $88 (Adults), $48 (Kids). Kids under the age of six dine for free.

Giveaway:

Want to win a $100 Quayside Isle @ Sentosa Cove voucher to enjoy the festive season with your loved ones?

Simply leave a comment below telling me which restaurant will you like to dine at! Contest ends on 20 December, good luck!

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I’m guilty of associating drinking holes with bar grub, i.e. mediocre food. Which is why Harry’s new menu created by culinary director Chef Daniel Sia (from The Disgruntled Chef!) is such a pleasant surprise. Hits for me from the comprehensive menu include the fried fish skin (so addictive that I shamelessly hogged this), delectable golden brown crab and potato cakes (very smart of them to print “crab and potato” instead of “crab cakes” so that expectations are managed), and the sinful rum-spiked baked chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry bits! Other than these, K really liked the signature spicy wings too, as well as the hearty beef stroganoff pasta. The premium lager battered fish and chips were rather disappointing; the generous pieces of fish looked perfect but the one on my plate was too oily. Then there are the average dishes – charcoal and onion ciabatta bread (essentially carbs to fill the stomach) and mushroom flatbread (more carbs), skippable.

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Fish Cracklings
fish skin tossed with in-house spice mix, served with aioli

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Charcoal & Onion Ciabatta
served with imam bayildi (turkish eggplant dip) and marinated olives

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Harry’s Signature Wings
crispy wings dressed in a secret spice served with homemade chilli jam

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Crab & Potato Cakes
blue swimmer crab and potato cakes with a light crunch, served with sriracha tomato dip

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Mushroom & Truffle Oil Flatbread
crisp flatbread with garlic mayo, field mushrooms and truffle oil

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Harry’s Beer Battered Fish & Chips
fresh hake fillet with exclusive harry’s premium lager batter, served with mushy peas, raisin coleslaw and chips

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Beef Stroganoff
smoky grilled beef and penne pasta in creamy sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese

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Sticky Date Toffee Pudding
served warm with toffee sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream

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My thanks to Hsian Ming for hosting dinner!

Harry’s Bar
#01-01, 3D River Valley Road
6338 7331

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First we have the term “Mod Sin”. Now there’s “Gastro-Botanica”, the contemporary cuisine created by Chef Jason Tan at Corner House that highlights both protein and botanical elements. We brought a couple of overseas friends there for dinner one night and what else can I say other than it was truly a beautiful meal? There is no ala carte; either you go for the elaborate degustation ($248++) or choose the mix-and-match menu (4 courses for $98++; 6 courses for $148++). We did the latter and left with happy smiles and full tummies!

From start to end, every dish was elegantly presented and the ingredients of high quality. I especially enjoyed the black sesame spheres (yes I’m naturally biased towards anything with the word ‘sesame’ but everyone at the table agreed that these were good!), 62 degree egg hidden in savoury-sweet onion puree (points given for the unexpected slice of shaved black truffle!), delicious fresh cod with seasonal white asparagus (any chef who can whip up fish with such crispy scales has my respect) and of course, both the desserts – chocolate “pebbles” plated to look like a winter garden, and a modern take of the traditional “kaya toast” with weak pandan but strong gula melaka flavour.

The staff packed petit fours for us (really too full!) and guess what greeted me the next morning? Salted egg yolk macarons! Brilliant.

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Amuse-bouche
fish cracker topped with tobiko, black sesame spheres, prawn on cornmeal cracker with avocado mousse

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French Royale Oyster
au naturel, plum granité, basil seed, caviaroli

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Carabinero Prawn (supplement $22++)
variation of best season tomato, vintage sherry, kristal de chine caviar

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Beetroot Collection
smoked eel, 24 months comté, horseradish, walnut & black garlic

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Oignon doux des Cévennes
62 degree egg, buckwheat, noisette croûton

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Maine Lobster (supplement $20++)
char grilled, burrata, yellow capsicum, trombetta zucchini, kristal de chine caviar

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sorry I can’t remember what is this dish. there were too much food!

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Free Range Chicken
champignon, romaine lettuce, sauce surf & turf

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Hokkaido Scallop
riso, seaweed, burnt leek, surf & turf emulsion

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New Zealand Cod “Crispy Scales”
white asparagus

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Cocoa “Pebbles”
white chocolate, meringue, crumbles

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My Interpretation of Kaya Toast
pandan, coconut, gula melaka, muscovado sablé and yuzu

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Corner House
1 Cluny Road, E J H Corner House
Singapore Botanic Gardens
(Nassim Gate Entrance)
+65 6469 1000

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… which (un?)fortunately didn’t manage to displace Hanare and Koji from my heart.

#1: Sumiya Charcoal Grill

I enjoyed dinner at Sumiya very much but lunch was a tad underwhelming, especially when there were so many gorgeous photos of the bara kaisen don on my Instagram feed.

Mix Bara Kaisen Don ($18.80++)
assorted seafood sashimi chunks on rice

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Lunch sets come with salad, chawanmushi and mochi for dessert, but I can certainly do without the frills (not even a mochi fan ha) if that means more fish on slightly dry sushi rice. The anago don was better – four long and tender (albeit thin) anago almost spilling out of the bowl, a beautiful sight!

Ni Anago Don ($16.80++)
simmered conger eel on rice

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#2: Manzoku Japanese Restaurant

Again, my expectations were (very) high due to the raves I read on Instagram (I’m an addict!!) lol.

Chirashi Set ちらし寿司 ($25++)
sliced sashimi on rice

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The chirashi don had thick slices of salmon, tuna, swordfish and amberjack, a couple of commercially produced (I guess) tamago, and a spoonful of ikura. Fish was fresh enough but the rice was strangely sweet and wasabi too “fake” (I mean artificial)…

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#3: Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant

Price tag being equal, I much prefer Hokkaido Sushi’s chirashi don to Manzoku’s. It may not be the best nor my favourite, but the generous slices of fish were very fresh!

Chirashi Don ($25++)

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Other than going cray-cray over bara/chirashi, I’ve also had a ridiculous infatuation with maki rolls. Of course, Koh Sushi and The Sushi Bar are unbeatable (to-date) when it comes to rolls but the special maki here is definitely worth a try! I love the contrasting texture from the crispy salmon and soft anago.

Special Maki ($25++)
crispy roll (anago & salmon)

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The highlight though was the platter of salmon sashimi. 20 pieces for $18++, what a great deal! And so fresh, soooo good!

Salmon Sashimi ($18++)
20 pieces

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Sumiya Charcoal Grill
#12-02, Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road
6509 9618
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Manzoku Japanese Restaurant
18 Purvis Street
6734 4436
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Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant
M Hotel Singapore Level 9
81 Anson Road
6221 3075

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Say hello to my recent food obsession: donburi bowls from Kilo at Pact.

More specifically, I’m heads over heels with the salmon quinoa bowl! The ingredients are simple but outstanding on its own – sweet fresh and crunchy corn kernels (nothing out of a can!), creamy and perfectly ripe avocado, well-marinated radishes and shimeji mushrooms, and incredibly flavourful quinoa. So delicious that I don’t even mind that the salmon tends to be overcooked (tried and tested thrice). I can’t make out what’s in the secret dressing though – shoyu? Mirin? Vinegar? WHAT?! Guess I’ll keep going back to figure it out haha.

K’s pork belly bowl is a near replica – just substitute salmon for pork belly, quinoa for sushi rice. He didn’t like this place on our first visit but has since changed his mind yay. The power of a pork belly bowl!

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Pork Belly Sushi Rice ($18++)
avocado, sweet corn, shimeji mushrooms, radishes, sugar peas, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, wasabi sprouts

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Pan-Seared Donburi Salmon Quinoa ($18++)
avocado, sweet corn, shimeji mushrooms, radishes, sugar peas, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, wasabi sprouts

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Kilo at Pact
#02-16/17/18/19, Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road
6884 7560

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As neither of us work in the CBD area, K and I are always very excited whenever we have a chance to lunch with the office crowds haha. We decided to give Lime Deli a try primarily because it is opened by the same folks at Lime House, Singapore’s first Caribbean restaurant which has been on my to-go list for ages. Located along Telok Ayer Street, this deli concept serves food freshly prepared daily by the Lime House chefs and available for both dine-in or grab-pay-and-go.

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The only fish/seafood dish on the menu is the “catch of the day” which turned out to be fried parrotfish, my first ever! The texture was firm and a little flaky, very interesting. Every main course comes with two sides and I chose the most exotic ones – ladyfingers and spinach in coconut cream and lemon lime slaw. I prefer the latter for its zesty flavour while the gooey okra in creamy gravy was somewhat of an acquired taste.

Catch of the Caribbean ($12)
battered parrotfish, okra & spinach in coconut cream, lemon lime slaw

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Wiki told me that jerk is a “style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice”. While the jerk chicken was well-marinated and tender enough, it was not spicy at all. The hand cut chips are actually an assortment of yam, potato and sweet potato, a refreshing change from the normal shoestring fries. Skip the macaroni pie as it was too dry and starchy. Oh ya, we also tried the curried pumpkin soup ($4), lovely!

Jerk Chicken ($12)
caribbean hand cut chips, macaroni pie

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Lime Deli
51 Telok Ayer Street
6222 7751

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