Dim Sum Inc by Crystal Jade
POSTED ON Friday, December 07, 2018 AT 6:31 PM \ leave a comment (0)
Michelin rated Singapore restaurant chain Crystal Jade has got a new Dim Sum concept that is designed for fast, no frills dining. Coined as Dim Sum Inc, they have opened up 2 outlets in Chinatown and developing new town Punggol. the menu carries a pretty wide selection of Dim Sum, Hong Kong styled roast meats with rice or noodles and other cantonese small bites. the food variety focuses on giving patrons a quick meal, that is also ideal for takeaway or simple meetings. the range is affordably priced and probably akin to the fast food version of the entire Crystal Jade franchise..

we visited the outlet at Punggol Terrace which has a small indoor seating area and a few more outdoor seats. the concept is really no frills, where we ticked our own orders off a 2 page menu sheet and would have to pay upfront whilst making our orders. the Dim Sum also includes the cute and eye-catching types such as colourful Har Gao and animal shaped lotus buns. drinks are served in unique long bottles to complete the experience.

we found it hard to explain to our friends what no-frills Dim Sum really meant so this Cheong Fun or traditional Hong Kong styled rice roll could be a good example. most rice rolls served at Dim Sum restaurants come with some filling (shrimp or roasted pork) and would take a longer time to prepare, the ones served here are simpler plain rice rolls drizzled with sweet and sesame sauce, abit more like those we find at local food centres. most of the Dim Sum baskets for dumplings and buns come with 3 of each type, ideal for smaller groups or individual dining.

a dish that we found to be particularly good was this XO carrot cake. fried in little chunks with XO sauce, there is also a spicy kick to the dish that made it enjoyable and appetizing. we liked the shrimp & pork wrapped in beancurd skin with oyster sauce, which had generous servings of filling, smooth beancurd skin that was flavourful with the sauce. other Dim Sum selections that we enjoyed were the custard buns and Cantonese styled congee.

and so the much Instagrammed about animal-shaped buns, they certainly look pretty when all decked out together. To manage expectations abit though, we found out for the Punggol outlet that there was only one selection of animal at any given time. for our meal, they only had the yellow chick buns (would have loved the pink porcupine ones). while the exterior was cute for the camera, we found that the lotus paste on the inside somewhat fell flat, it was a tad too dry and felt more like red bean paste. oh well, this order was for fun and for the kids anyway. all in all, it was a good experience. the food was served fast, warm and generally reasonably priced. we would recommend Dim Sum Inc for quick and comfortable dining, in air-condition and without having to deal with long queues.

Dim Sum Inc by Crystal Jade
681 Punggol Dr, #02-36
Oasis Terraces
Singapore 820681

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays: 11 am to 10 pm
Saturdays & Sundays: 9 am to 10 pm

The latest all-day dining quick service concept..

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Old Hen Coffee Bar
POSTED ON Saturday, November 24, 2018 AT 5:03 PM \ leave a comment (0)
wholesome meals and great coffee brews are the new wave of cafes. as part of the national movement that rewards people for eating nutritious food, this cafe has brought wellness into its menu and still looks hipster while at it. this kinda reminds me of the Percolate concept at Bedok that we featured earlier this year. quite a few similarities in terms of the cosy fit-out, the emphasis on wellness and good coffee, as well as the retail element of their coffee beans and products.

Old Hen Coffee Bar is located at Rangoon Road, home to local delicacies and a breeding ground for modern cafes. the menu is simplistic with focus on coffee and tea, including cold bottled beverages that are prepared in-house. the food menu mixes lots of greens, health snacks and high protein food, going at very reasonable prices. there is quite a fair bit of street-side parking within the area, but it'd be better to arrive somewhat earlier if you're dining at peak hours. the cafe is going strong after over a year of operations and has even expanded into a more mainstream cafe and bar on the next street. that is a story for another day...

in the spirit of eating right, we went for their Toasted Museli Bowl, which came with honeyed museli, seasonal fruits and greek yohurt. there is the option of replacing the yohurt with milk, hence ours looks more like morning cereal. the serving is fairly generous and the fruits are fresh, if cereal at home is always this good, we might be waking up for such breakfasts more often.

if your idea of breakfast has to be fuller, complete with eggs and toast, then this Big Breakfast would be more conventional. served with sourdough toast, spinach, avocado, a chorizo sausage and a choice of poached or scrambled eggs, this makes for a heartier meal. is it just me or does this look abit like a grumpy old clown? jokes aside, the eggs were well done, and the quantity of greens would please any salad lover.

good breakfast topped with fantastic coffee is always welcome. we tried both their white cold brew as well as their traditional warm coffee with milk. perhaps it was the whole ambience with aromatic coffee filling up the room the moment that we stepped in, but this turned out to be one of the better coffees we have tried. a testament to that would be the people that would stop by just to order coffees to go, Old Hen Coffee Bar has somewhat transformed into the local coffee place for its neighbours. we made mental notes to try their other specialty drinks on our next visit, such as their cold matcha milk or their dark cocoa drink. in all, it was a good feeling having a seemingly unsinful treat, and an enjoyable visit to this coffee joint.

Old Hen Coffee Bar
88 Rangoon Road #01-03
Singapore 218374

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays: 12 pm to 10 pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Saturdays: 10 am to 6.30 pm
Sundays: 10 am to 10 pm

check out the various cold bottled beverages..

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Platform 1094
POSTED ON Thursday, November 08, 2018 AT 11:12 PM \ leave a comment (0)
Theme cafes that are inspired by long running movie franchises would often enjoy a good run, especially if the movie series is still running or much talked about. However, if the cafe is modeled after J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise, throwing in props, costumes and "magic" that enable customers to participate, then the interactive nature of the concept would ensure the cafe's greater longevity.

Singapore's Harry Potter inspired cafe is called Platform 1094. The name was adopted from its address along 1094 Serangoon Road, although searching for Harry Potter Cafe on Google would probably also lead you to this place. The folks behind this theme cafe are the similar ones who brought in Blue Willow (now closed), the avatar themed blue cafe that once operated from Clementi. It is no wonder that creativity runs deep in this group, as several of the food and drinks served here are certainly iconic to the theme.

The food is also of fairly good quality, with this crab meat Aglio Olio being one of its signatures. Spaghetti prepared in a spicy sauce, the dish is served with crab meat slices, smoked salmon and fish roe. extremely generous and flavourful servings which made it a very popular choice here. the same cannot be said for another of its featured mains, the HP lamb shoulder. I guess, lamb dishes could be a hit or a miss at casual diners and for this restaurant, we found the meat a tad too rubbery and really difficult to bite through.I guess, other recommended mains could be alot easier to cut up.

another fascinating feature of the cafe would be its really creative cake designs. This book of spells cake is actually part of the cafe's thematic offering, termed Sweet Treats of the Wizardry World, the chocolate cake is as tasty as it looks photo-worthy. other cakes and desserts there are also designed to the magical spirit of Harry Potter and are also commonly featured on social media posts. To top it off, the cafe is interactive, providing patrons with costumes, props such as magic wands and other figurines to make the experience more complete.

if the desserts are much talked about, then the drinks here would be the champions. in fact, one of its drinks is probably the signature feature of the whole cafe. Mr Lich's flaming brew could well be the main highlight when people talk about this cafe. the blue drink is literally flaming when served, and customers can even sprinkle cinnamon powder over it to create that goblet-of-fire effect. Butterscotch beer is also a signature for the Harry Potter cafe in London, over here they have tweaked the drink slightly to a Butterscotch ale that is sweet, delicious with alot of froth. On the whole, we were greatly impressed by this experience, the cafe had several interactive elements, there were several cakes and drinks that stuck to the theme and were great for the camera and the general food quality was good.. just stay clear of the lamb.

Platform 1094
1094 Serangoon Rd
Singapore 328192

Opening Hours
Tuesdays to Fridays: 11 am to 10 pm
Saturdays & Sundays: 10 am to 10 pm
(closed on Mondays)

Welcoming Wizards & Witches since 2016..

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POSTED ON Saturday, October 27, 2018 AT 6:22 PM \ leave a comment (0)
The 70th floor of Singapore's Swissotel The Stamford has been home to Equinox for the longest time. Following a revamp, the folks behind that institution has come back with a new concept, but still sticking to the strong tradition of spectacular views and great food. SKAI opened its doors to its first patrons sometime over a couple of months ago, with a brand new fit-out and a Japanese inspired fusion menu. we took the evening timeslot to enable us to enjoy the best of both views, day and night - which were equally breathtaking.

SKAI is helmed by Paul Hallett, a British executive chef from the previous setup and carries a philosophy of using quality ingredients to create strong flavours. the restaurant's new menu has a greater variety of dishes for sharing and retained its distinctive quality of good service and creative cocktails. for the earlier visitors to this place, the team has been quick to point out that they were still a work-in-progress and welcomed all suggestions to improve their act. and while there were indeed some minor tweaks that could be done, this visit was a truly memorable one for us.

Pretty cocktails for the Gram, but great on the tastebuds too. this cocktail is a mixture of wheat vodka and champagne, yet with honey and apricot to give it bright colours and the sweetness for easy drinking. i also truly enjoyed this drink of Brunchin Spritz, a mixture of Italian Aperol and Prosecco which brought out the distinctive orange flavour without being too sweet. in all, drinks were on point and we were ready to move on to the food.

we picked a couple of dishes from the small plates section and decided to go for our favourites. Nonetheless, the delivery of popular bar food takes on a unique interpretation such as this Black Pearl Oysters, which came with cream and caviar. freshness was also maintained and we enjoyed the oysters so much that we slurped the shells clean pretty quickly. we also tried the Seared Foie Gras which came with apple, green tea granola and drizzled with Choya. the meat was really juicy yet tender and went well with the sweeter ingredients.

we also tried some of their signatures including this much talked about Crispy Rye Noodles. its basically crispy Gong Zai noodles, with an onsen egg and truffle sitting in a pool of assorted mushrooms. pretty much an acquired taste, especially after the staff poured the shoyu sauce in, making the dish a tad too salty. it still remains an exciting proposition and understandably why most visitors would have tried this dish, alas, it was a little too alternative for us. but while pointing out some learns, there was surely a win with their Uni Saffron Risotto, a Japanese-Italian rice dish served with sea urchin, cucumber, citrus and cured egg yolk. a very flavourful combination indeed. Desserts were also winners, not to mention the initiative to celebrate one of our birthdays on the must-try caramelised soy bean cheesecake. we enjoyed this experience very much and we are sure that SKAI will become a local icon very soon.

80 Bras Basah Road
70th Storey
Singapore 189560

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays: 12 pm to 2.30pm; 6 pm to 10.30 pm
Saturdays & Sundays: 11.30 am to 3.30pm; 6 pm to 10.30 pm
(drinks till late daily)

prepped to become the go-to sky-dining establishment in Singapore..

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Hua Ting Restaurant
POSTED ON Tuesday, October 16, 2018 AT 11:03 PM \ leave a comment (0)
Helmed by an award winning master chef, Hua Ting has built a strong following amongst locals who love good Cantonese food in Singapore. It's reputation extends to Orchard Hotel, which caters food from the restaurant for its Chinese banquets, making it a key consideration for those who'd host their weddings there. For others who simply love Dim Sum, this restaurant also ranks among the very best. recently re-opening in 2018 after a short hiatus for their internal refurbishment work, Hua Ting has come back with a new menu and by popular demand, also extended their dining space to outside the restaurant on weekends.

Modern day Dim Sum interpretations usually come with giving traditional classics a slight twist. The Turnip cake fried in XO Sauce remains one of Hua Ting's signatures that is brought back even after the change in menu. Served with bean sprouts in a stone bowl, the dish is extremely flavourful with a slightly spicy kick, the kind of taste that the local palette here tends to love very much.

Rice rolls or Cheong Fun is a favourite amongst Dim Sum dishes. While the more common types such as shrimp or roast pork rice rolls are still available, we tried the rice roll with shredded chicken. the version is not as rich as the typical types of Cheong Fun, and perhaps could be a welcome change to go with the stronger tasting savoury dishes that comes with a Dim Sum meal. intentionally or not, it seemed like pretty clever food pairing.

then comes one of Hua Ting's more iconic dishes, their Xiao Long Bao. the delivery of this dish is unique to the restaurant because they place their dumplings within little trinket baskets. they have been serving this for some time now, even before the renovations and regulars here will recognize it as their specialty. The Xiao Long Bao itself is very much on point with its generous and very juicy filling. I was once told that Michelin ratings often are given not just for food quality but also the dining experience, and it is no wonder that the restaurant now features in Singapore's Michelin guide.

these buns are simply oozing with very rich flavours. The salted egg yolk custard buns served here makes a very enriching dessert because the filling are almost bursting out of the skin once you bite into it. Custard is the new lotus paste it seems and a rather popular choice at Dim Sum restaurants these days. In all, we enjoyed the meal at Hua Ting. their decision to expand to outside the restaurant still needs some work on service standards, as the sheer volume on weekends often meant that the outside patrons are neglected. This is made up for significantly by their food quality, which is certainly their saving grace. Hua Ting has been around since 1992 and by the looks of it, would be here to stay.

Hua Ting Restaurant
442 Orchard Road
Orchard Hotel, Level 2
Singapore 238879

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm; 6 pm to 10.30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays: 11 am to 2.30 pm; 6 pm to 10.30 pm

new signature dishes while keeping with its enduring tradition of serving authentic Cantonese classics..

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JB Eats (updated)
POSTED ON Wednesday, September 26, 2018 AT 1:22 PM \ leave a comment (0)
Visits to Johor Bahru are often associated with grocery shopping and lots of delicious food. in recent years, the streets of Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Serampang have also seen more hipster cafes and eateries coming on stream. the traditional names that resonate with the local faithful still maintain their charm and in all, we felt that it was timely to update what we like to eat at JB..

Kam Long Curry Fish Head

Starting off with a popular food joint just across the customs. This curry fish head stall is located along Jalan Wong Ah Fook, just round the corner of City Square. be prepared to queue as the shop-house is often packed during lunch time and from what i know, they mainly serve only this signature dish with rice.

you can see the crew preparing the dish using only fresh snappers at the front of the stall. the curry is not extremely spicy, but peppered with an aroma of spices that makes it so tasty. the dish comes with vegetables, fresh snapper head, tau kee and tofu skin. the coconut milk flavour is pretty evident though, and could be a put off for some..

Kam Long Restaurant
74 Jalan Wong Ah Fook
80000 Johor Bahru

San Lou Seafood Restaurant

Moving slightly deeper into Taman Pelangi, you'd look for this innocuous looking bee hoon dish that actually makes the entire restaurant famous. we featured this place in one of our earlier entries and would like reiterate that their interpretation of this dish is still better than any other place serving San Lou Bee Hoon. the vermicelli is stir fried and charred to perfection, mixed with vegetables, fish cake, prawns and minced chicken meat. they also have a wide variety of tse char food that are not bad. try their minced pork tofu, sambal cockles and wild boar meat to name a few.

San Lou Seafood Restaurant
Jalan Biru, Taman Pelangi
80400 Johor Bahru

Shun Fa Bak Kut Teh

the locals love their Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) as much as we do. it's just that they usually prepare it differently, using a herbal broth that is less peppery, and throwing in several other ingredients like tau kee and tofu skin. Shun Fa is located at Taman Sentosa just along the main Tebrau Highway. very popular amongst Singaporeans and almost every vehicle parked outside the shop has a Singapore licence number. people usually order their signature dish with rice, along with sesame oil chicken and braised pig trotters.

Shun Fa Bak Kut Teh
11, Jalan Sutera Satu, Taman Sentosa
80150 Johor Bahru

Restoran Hua Mui

this Hainanese eatery reminds me of Yut Kee back in KL. expect long crowds on weekends and at least half an hour's waiting time (to be seated) as you join the locals to enjoy traditional delights such as Hainanese Lam Mee and their signature Chicken Chop amongst other dishes. the quality of the chicken chop is fantastic, with good marination, the meat is crisp on the exterior and tender on the inside, topped with flavourful gravy to make it probably the most popular dish there.

Restoran Hua Mui
131, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Bahru
80000 Johor Bahru

深夜食糖 SYST

this one is really interesting. a new hipster supper and dessert joint that is designed to look like a typical Hong Kong dessert shop, complete with mosaic tiles, neon lights as well as very thematic interior design and furnishing. Vintage Hong Kong desserts and food are available here, with a mix of what you get at Australian Dairy Company - steamed egg with milk pudding, to the likes of curry fish balls, egg tarts and macaroni. Mango Pomelo Sago and black sesame soup are also popular here. Once it hits 9 pm, the crowd starts to stream in (be mindful that they only open from 3 pm onwards) and considering that it is within walking distance from KSL Mall, this shop is expected to be a hit with Malaysians and Singaporeans.

深夜食糖 SYST
260 Jalan Dato' Sulaiman, Taman Abad, Johor Bahru
1st Floor, 80250 Johor Bahru

Coffee Signature

this container cafe have actually been operating for a few years now, though its popularity with Instagrammers and younger patrons remain. in fact, this has become somewhat of a place-marker for the various cafes that have sprouted out along Jalan Serampang. probably what made this shop famous was its Sweet Rain Coffee, or essentially cotton candy that melts cover black coffee. we tried their Unicorn rainbow cake for kicks as well, equally good.

Coffee Signature
53, Jalan Serampang, Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Bahru
80400 Johor Bahru

Chaiwalla & Co.

another container, this milk tea / alternative bubble tea joint has become a landmark or meeting point at Jalan Dhoby. This is where the action is for hipsters with loads of new cafes coming on in recent years. located just within walking distance from City Square Mall across the Causeway means that the area is accessible even for those who are not driving. back to Chaiwalla, this place creates some of the most unique flavoured milk teas and would give any bubble tea shop a run for their money... somebody franchise this please?

Chaiwalla & Co.
36, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Bandar Johor Bahru
80000 Johor Bahru

Restoran Todak

"Todak! Todak!" we repeatly told the taxi driver, and "Todak! Todak!" he nodded and replied furiously, though we all knew he didn't know where it was. this is actually just beside the seafood restaurant above, and in our opinion, the best one out of a chain of seafood joints in this village. don't forget to try their Seven Star Grouper Fish, garlic clams on bamboo shoots, drunken prawns, chilli crab and sambal cockles.

since they are located just next to Restoran Tepi Pantai, locating it is certainly a challenge. we don't recommend you take a taxi in either, because most local cabbies don't know how to get there and it'd be equally hard to call a cab to get you out thereafter. drive with a local, or seriously, its nearest if you swim from Sembawang Shipyard.

Restoran Todak (Orang Asli)
1, Kampung Orang Asli
Teluk Jawa, Masai
81750 Johor Bahru