Sunday, 25 February 2018

Salt Tapas and Bar

There are a few café and restaurants outside the air-conditioned Raffles City Shopping Centre  Costa Coffee faces St Andrew's Cathedral, Brotzeit German Bier Bar and Restaurant and Marché Mövenpick are nearer to Chjimes while Salt Tapas and Bar by Luke Mangan overlooks Raffles Hotel which is currently undergoing renovations. The latter, a slightly more casual extension to Salt Grill and Sky Bar on the 55th floor of Ion Orchard, is a quaint odd-shaped place with red bricks that offers $19 lunch sets (choose from seven main courses and it comes with coffee, tea or soft drinks) and 5 tapas for $50. You can add $3 for sides and $8 for dessert of the day. These are good deals, considering how much the same item costs on the à la carte menu. Visited for lunch on a weekday and sat indoor at one of the 120 seats as the weather was not cooling enough for alfresco dining.

While pork ribs with miso and honey-soy glaze was tender, had to intersperse it with the accompanying pickled cucumber, apple and wasabi slaw. Roasted barramundi  served with mussels, caper berries and fregula in "crazy water", had a crisp skin and was neither mushy nor fishy. Found the Westholme Wagyu brisket sliders with aged cheddar, pickled beetroot and horseradish aioli too gamely for my liking though the fries was good. It was my first time trying lamb kofta with couscous, golden raisins, almonds, yogurt, cucumber, lime and mint. A tad spicy and exotic, not something I would order again. Decided against paying $8 for two scoops of strawberry sorbet and instead went for the churros with dark chocolate sauce, raspberry rose jam and cream. We had better ones before but this was not too bad either.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Chinese New Year 2018 – Goodies Galore

Familiar names at Takashimaya's Chinese New Year Festive Celebrations include Bengawan Solo, Christine's by The Cookie Museum and Home's Favourite. Instead of presenting two boxes of cookies in a tiffin-looking tall box, HarriAnns uses real tiffin this year. There were also many salted egg yolk baked and fried goods, and more stalls selling healthier choices. Despite reducing the amount of sugar in its eggless cookies, Divine Cookies' cookies were not bland  crumbly Coffee Baileys cookies with a lovely aroma and taste of coffee, and refreshing Yuzu Orange. A tad expensive though. I like Coco & Frank's flourless cookies without colouring and preservatives, and will be buying its Macadamia and Earl Grey Almond cookies (could smell and taste the tea with real leaves in it). As three beautiful tins can be packed into a complimentary gift box, which can go into a "Fu Dai" bag, am undecided between the Salted Egg and refreshing Tangerine Dark Belgian Chocolate cookies for my third tin.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

What to Eat in South Korea (Part II)

Jjimdak, japchae and juk
First tried jjimdak in Singapore (Andong Zzimdak has since closed) and found the braised chicken with carrots, onions and potatoes dish familiar albeit spicier. Was a tad disappointed with the one recommended by our hotel concierge though. Another dish reminiscent of homecooked food is japchae  sweet potato noodle similar to tang hoon, stir-fried with sesame oil, soy sauce and vegetables. If you cannot take spice, then try its juk or Korean traditional porridge. Tried its abalone juk but could not discern any abalone in the thick consistency porridge.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

What to Eat in South Korea (Part I)

What comes to your mind when you think of Korea? K-pop and K-drama has shown that the Land of the Morning Calm has more to offer than kimchi and Korean barbeque, cosmetic surgery and skincare. Before my first trip to Seoul, I heard of many who came back from the East Asian peninsula complaining that they were sick of barbeque which they ate almost every day and kimchi that was served at every meal. But I discovered South Korea, or at least Seoul, has a lot more variety of food than that:

Budae jjigae and sundubu
My first time trying budae jjigae or army stew was in a foreign land when two Koreans cooked for the rest of us. They shared how this was comfort food in the army and could be cooked with easily available ingredients like instant noodles, kimchi and luncheon meats. Some places also add sausages, rice cakes, baked beans and/or cheese. Also like another stew – sundubu, made with soft and silky tofu, comes with choice of other ingredients such as mushrooms, meats and seafood.

Saturday, 20 January 2018


Esquina is, as its name suggests (which means corner in Spanish), tucked away at the corner of Jiak Chun Road and Teck Lim Road. Located off Keong Saik Road, the Spanish tapas restaurant occupies two storeys of a shophouse. Sit at the bar counter on the 1st floor if you want to watch its chefs prepare dishes and do not mind fumes from the open kitchen. Requested for a table on the 2nd floor, which was quiet enough for us to catch up with one another. From the Snacks menu, we had three items  mediocre marinated olives with cardamom, cider vinegar, lemon and Mediterranean herbs, mixed reviews for Iberico bellota "5J" with pan con tomate (Spanish-styled grilled bread with tomato) and raw oyster topped with Jalapeno ponzu, salmon roe and pickled ginger flower that a dining companion raved about. The latter was fresh but not as plump as others I have eaten. Nonetheless, a delicate dish prettily presented with flavours that came very well together.

I liked how the tanginess of the tomato cut the saltiness of the grilled bread, and how perfect it was with the ham. Could not say the same of the sea urchin and lobster paella with saffron aioli and snow peas though. Found the short-grained rice too undercooked for my liking and would prefer it to be a tad dryer. Loved the potato and black truffle gratin with onion sauce, organic egg yolk and iberico ham. The crispy potato was good, both on its own and when paired with other ingredients in this dish. Another of our favourites was the Spanish Suckling Pig served with rhubarb and apple chutney and mulled wine jus  succulent meat with thin crisp skin and just the right amount of fats. While it was lovely on its own, the taste was accentuated with the sauce so delicious a dining companion wanted to buy it. Too full for desserts, we were served with chocolate mousse on thin slices of crispy bread topped with olive oil and sea salt to round up our pleasant meal.