Time goes faster than you blink. Nothing's ever was like it was.
But you and me, babe, we still have a special thing going on.
Don Quijote, 5 years ago you stole my bleepin' heart with a plethora of goodies ranging from Squid Ink Paella to the much less ostentatious garlic wild mushrooms (read more about it here), this year on a surprise return trip to common grounds, I was equally dazzled. I refer to it as a surprise because I unknowingly trudged into the restaurant with no clue that the establishment had relocated to its new residing grounds located on Dempsey Hill.
Swankier, with higher ceilings and mosaic tiled bar counters; Don Quijote seemed to have metamorphosed into something a little more upmarket. Falling in the footsteps of most of its next-door vendors, but still retaining the same humble and warm Spanish hospitality vibes throughout. This is highly evident from the framed photos documenting the food driven journeys of owner, Mr Ken Lim and his family though Spain. Each one of which withholding some lingering tale in its wake.
I initially condoned this to the 'Shall keep mum' folder on my desktop, but what the heck.. it's better suited for my 'Wordless Wednesday' movement.. simply because that's exactly where a meal at Bottura left me. At a loss for words.
It's not everyday that you have the luxury to sit down to a lavish lunch without having thoughts of impending doom from the stockpiling workload weighing heavily on your mind. But with this little window of opportunity to escape as far away from work as possible, its always a good idea to treat yourself to something a little more substantial, a little more gratifying, if I might add. Here are a few of my go-to places for a quick lunch with perks of enlightenment and spiritual healing afterwards.
Whenever it comes to dining options in the Orchard area, my mind cognitively draws a blank. The maddening crowds and the lack of personal space driving me far away from the prospects of heading out to town on the weekday night, much less on a weekend.
However, on closer inspection, it becomes evident that the usual 70% F&B based occupancy in every shopping mall, straddling the strip would be able to feed the crowds. Now the real problem is identifying which are worth your while.
Orchard Central is home to several outstanding food establishments; though the life of a certain kind of restaurant, one is given to understand, can be nasty, brutish and short. Sumiya and Ootoya, some of my long time favorites have stood the test of time and gone on to expand their humble business concepts to other heartland malls. That aside, my knowledge in regards to the other existing tenants squirrelled away disparately among 12 floors of concrete was close to zilch. It was for that reason alone that, when recently approached to be led on a food tour of certain selected vendors in the building, I happily obliged.
A great waffle needs no diatribe. As long as the exterior's golden and crunchy, the gelato or fried chicken (whatever floats your boat) authentically flavoured/juicy, and the added bonus of having a kick-ass sauce; the ingredients speak for themselves. And yet, even as the emergence of new waffle types, reimagined as pizzas and waffurger push past stereotypes with their wacky toppings and remarkable condiments, its no getting past the fact that the proof is in waffle itself. The variance of options on our tiny island, allowing every man to momentarily assume the position as a waffle philiosphers; debating the merits of waffle crumb, gelato and yeast versions versus baking powder, put against the souffled forms. But in the end, as with so many things, what matter the most is how it makes you feel inside; and thankfully there's room for all styles, from buttermilk to Belgium-yeasted and even filled with macaroni and cheese. So, keep an open mind and waffle-on! Here's where to find the best, my best at least:
Walking into this place, the first thing that grabs your attention is the circular Enomatic sake dispenser, apparently, the only one in Singapore too. Basically, a wine enomatic system employed to perform sake duties, the elephant in the room, administers a total of 16 types of sake stored in temperature-controlled environment for diners to enjoy their choice of beverage in complements to their meal.
Since, I confess to not being much of a lover of sake, I took a sip of my
half glass (60ml) Morboroshino Tak Daiginjo Blend Taplows ($14) and left it in the corner of neglect for the rest of the evening. That's not to say the rest of your sake connoisseurs out there won't appreciate the finer selections of sake procured by the restaurant and backed by a certified sake sommelier on site who would not hesitate to answer any of your queries should you not understand the tasting notes labelled on the sake dispenser. With these, indicating the aroma, taste identification, acidity, texture and origin; picking out a alcoholic beverage should be easy as pie.
The Sumiya at Suntec differs drastically from their flagship outlet at Orchard Central, sans the industrial metal sheeting and large communal spaces. Dining here is a little more intimate, a little more closeted off from the rest of the diners; a slight mysterious and fashionable setting, furnishing dressed in dark hues of grey and wood, preparing the guests for a feasts of gustatory pleasures.
The same folks behind speakeasy bar House of Dandy have poked their fingers into the restaurant scene with yet another sexy Urban City creation: Raven. Settled snugly in the bottom enclaves of Chijmes, this is the kind of place you bring secret dates to, hoping that something saucy will evolve from the whole exchange. Well, fret no, with a strong list of cheeky cocktails to boot (H.O.D... DUH), Raven might just be you go-to location if you're hoping to strike first-base.
In this space, a grafittied grand piano in the style of Rich Uncle Pennybags stands with a DJ console on its back, sleek leather booth seatings and mystifying modern light instalments pave the way for an equally bedazzling meal. "The New Americas" is touted to be the menu's art direction, and with that, I visualised Northern and Southern American comfort food perceived with a modern interpretation with teensie ounces of Asian flair subtly worked into each dish. With Sam Chablani, previously from Lolla heading the kitchen, I had no qualms that something prodigious was about to unravel itself.
Holland Village, named in 1907 after Hugh Holland, an architect and an amateur actor who was one of the early residents in the vicinity. Holland Road, also known as hue hng au in Hokkien, translates to "behind the flower garden". The "flower garden" referring to the Botanic Gardens, hence explaining the provenance of its name.
Whether you're looking for sweets filled pinatas, rare magazines or just a cool cafe to chill out with friends whilst simultaneously cooing over adorable latte art, you can be sure that Holland Village's amazing spread of local stores have got you covered.
As some of you might know, I've recently ventured to the Middle East and back. In a research collaborative with the Alshaya Group, Dubai in a big to scrutinise a couple of major International food groups and assess it's viability in the South East Asian Market. You can read more about my unbiased verdicts here and here.
Sounds like a noble affair doesn't it? In actual fact, the non-stop whining and dining had tumultuous effects on the poor ole' tummy. Not to sound like an old prude, but efficient digestion has never been one of my strong suit. Thank goodness for VITAGEN LESS SUGAR that came to the rescue after four days of heavy feasting.
Belgian Beer Cafe
Rostang at the Atlantis
Almaz by Momo
Le Pain Quotidien
Lime Tree Cafe