A good 2 years later and here I am back at Alkaff Mansion, a lofty colonial manor nestled on top of a verdant knoll filled with luscious foliage and leafy pastures. No doubt, things have changed since my last 2 visits (the first being my cousin's wedding, and the next being a HGW tasting; you can read about it here), with speedy progressions in the marriage and a blessed baby girl born; however, things have hardly changed at Alkaff - it's pish-posh mannerisms and restrained grandeur prevail, the infrastructure still spick and span, as if it hadn't aged a day.
Well, as much as I wasn't there to inspect for the natural degradation of the establishment, one can't help but feel like a jealous schoolmate during a class reunion, positively green eyed from the lack of ageing signs, especially with my tragic loss of vitality over the last two years, attributed to my love for alcohol and the wretched night life. I digress. The rising smoke from the BBQ beckons.
Having had a stint in Sydney, I'm no stranger to Korean food; the convenient trips to Korean supermarkets in the dead of the night; the camaraderie that build around a table of Korean fried chicken and imposing beer towers with friends - all familiar experiences in my book. Yet, truly Korean restaurants - good ones - are woefully limited here in Singapore. One reason is that, as with so many ethnic cuisines, there's too much competition and strife; the local palates usually tend towards a more Western flavor in pursuit of idealism. Another, is that Korean food is always associated with the smoky stench of barbecued meats sticking to your hair, the folds of your favourite cotton sweater and just about everything, that puts people off. While the spills of having to pay hefty price tags for enormous dishes fit for a party of 6, when there's only the 2 of you is vaguely a dampening factor; fret not, that's where Joo comes into the picture.
When it came down to deciding where to appease the insatiable alcohol induced appetites in Liang Court, it all boiled down to two choices.
Firstly, Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai for their delectable rafute and goya chanpuru or Tampopo for their mighty fine Katsu. Feeling a tad adventurous that day, (after the harsh realisation that we are such boring farts for always swinging with the former), we ventured into the cozy enclaves of Tampopo in search of a protein fix.
Fortunately for us, we stumbled upon some concurrent promotions that grabbed our attention immediately upon being seated. The large chart with "Tampopo Black Pig (Kurobuta) Fair" in bold lettering printed across the top enticing us with its slashed prices and tempting images.
I do admit to doing the cafe rounds too often during the weekends. So here's a change!
Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, a contemporary Cantonese restaurant situated right smack in the heart of Orchard Road on the 4th Level of Grand Park Orchard has something exciting up its sleeves for the weekends and public holidays languid afternoons.
So just chew on this, a classic Cantonese yum cha experience spiked with tea-infused cocktails in place of the more traditional (and not to mention, boring...) tea. All this enjoyed in plush decor and modern designed settings coupled with zealously attentive service.
Mitzo ups the ante with its DIY cocktail stations where the adventurous ones (or in my case, half-sloshed) can put the pedal to the medal and shake up their own cocktails, under the watchful eye of Mitzo's skillful bartenders, of course.
Apart from being a really good brunch venue, Nassim Hill churns out a solid good dinner menu in substitution for the absence of its signature Reuben Sandwich (watch me wax lyrical here) at night.
With nightfall, lights are dimmed and the normally breezy cafe assumes a more seductive image. In sync with its intimate vibes are the elaborate dishes like the Market Fresh Mussels ($25) for example. Feisty with a hint of Chili, live French Bouchoty mussels are first cooked with white wine, sriracha butter, cilantro and garlic till its wilful lips are pried open, allowing for the salacious aromatic juices to pour into its folds. Tuck into this dish with a good hunk of baguette to soak up the ambrosial liquids at the bottom of the bowl, trust me, this was one of the rare moments that I actually looked forward to a soggy loaf of bread.
If food is as good as I had tasted that night, then yes, you can be lighthouse any day.
Newly revamped Lighthouse Bistro Bar has received a new lease on life, done away with the hideous coats of orange and the cheap furniture and now focuses on serving up good food, good drinks and deeply wonderful service. It's mission is clear and concise, once you've scrolled down the extensive menu offering a hodgepodge of world dishes: to offer the freshest of seafood at bargain prices. After gawking and gasping at the price reveals, we had to put the food to the test.
I know, I know its Singapore's birthday today and judging by the boxes of remarkable flatlays of local foods flooding my instagram feed, everyone is out there frolicking with pratas, chwee kueh, hokkien mee and chicken rice this morning in a bid to rally the national day spirit.
I'm afraid, that's not really my jam. So I'm going to steer you towards some amazing burgers and fries from Carvers and Co. Lucky for you, the kind folks will be serving up their flagship burger, The General all weekend long.
So drop the dishes, drop the baby, let go of the steering wheel, flush the toilet, turn off the shower, unplug the oven, kick over the fuckin' TV, drop your pants, heck, drop everything, dance around, wave your hands in the air like you just don't care and order it now.
So another restaurant bartering craft beers opens up - what's new? Well, here's the scoop. Little Island Brewing Co isn't just another run of the mill hipsterish cafe/restaurant pitching an extensive list of speciality beers just to rally the crowds; its sprawling grounds and glistening vats locked behind caged frames revealing ballsy plans to embark on a journey of brewing and achieving status quo as one of Singapore's few local breweries.
During one of my visits, I was fortunate enough to exchange pleasantries with Steve Spinney, Little Island's consultant brewer who talked about some of his brews he had planned for the joint including a pale, a wheat and a coffee stout which are currently in the pipeline till more equipment and ingredients arrive in their quarters. Owner, Francis Khoo is one of the four shareholders in this grand venture; a humble chap who was benevolent enough to entertain my partner and I, through some alcohol laden meals; it was plain to see that his passion for craft beer and its gradual assimilation into the local lifestyle, was his main driving force in the process. Combined with the culinary prowess of Chef John Edwards, manning the smokers and the grills, you have a force to be reckoned with.
I shuffled, no, rolled out of the restaurant, uttering an endless string of words in contentment in the midst.
My tummy lucked out on a recent media tasting at Ding Dong, Ann Siang Hill's gem of playful mod-Asian cuisine. In the recent month, the establishment has injected an air of nostalgia into the menu with a series of eclectic culinary creations and the team was proud to showcase their new lineup in true peacock fashion; the resulting protestation of my exploding belly seemingly irrelevant in this situation.
Never heard of purple-hued herbs before? Don't worry. Neither have I. Hence, a resounding opening statement that Violet Herb would be a rare find amongst the throngs of F&B establishments linearly crowding the Tras Street vicinity.
Edward Hoe, the executive chef and owner of Violet Herb is a rigorous miniaturist, combining a few ingredients at a time into compositions that were utterly complete, even if they left you wanting more. At a tender age of 34, he already had an impressive sense of what to put on a plate and what to leave off. His 20 years of kitchen experience stems to some prominent stints including Restaurant Ember, Keystone Restaurant and the fine dining establishment, The American Club.
My first encounter with Edward was in 2010 whilst busting tables at Epicurious, just a stone's throw away from the maiden household. Even then, his tenacity in the kitchen was evident, his efforts to produce innovative cuisine despite the limitations were astounding; and often, the staff got to reap the benefits of his labour at meal times. Hence, it was with my utmost pleasure that I had the opportunity to sit down to a proper meal at his restaurant a few years down the row, devoid of beads of sweat rolling down my temples and black t-shirts reeking of grease.
Belgian Beer Cafe
Rostang at the Atlantis
Almaz by Momo
Le Pain Quotidien
Lime Tree Cafe