{Wordless Wednesdays} @ Percolate: Seriously Coffee


Alvin and Vincent in their lovechild of a cafe, Percolate, located in the caffeine deprived neighbourhood of Bedok.

Here, the duo's passion for delivering excellent coffee is translated resoundingly with the aid of Nylon Coffee beans (a favourite of mine). While the tantalising display of cakes and sweets may be too bewitching to ignore, have a go at their Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Cream Cheese Croissant, this will surely please the rainy day cravings.

136 Bedok North Avenue 3
S ( 460136)
T: 8259 0316

Peramakan @ the Keppel Club: Family Birthday Dinners


Nothing is more motivational than having a fire lite under your ass. 

I kid you not, and this was the circumstance I faced when thrown into the deep end with some vigorous finger-pointing action over a family whatsapp conversation. Yes, so I had to organise the twin's  (my mum and auntie's) 55th birthday celebration. Confounded with a variety of food intolerances ,whims and fancies from a large group of finicky diners; I looked to the cause of Peranakan cooking for a solution.

Nonya cooking as defined by Wikipedia is the 'result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by Malay/Indonesian community'. For instance, Malay dishes such as assam fish and beef rendang have been reinterpreted to suit the Chinese palates and more often than not are more subtle in spices and possessing more of a tangy edge.

As I had taken the liberty to select the dishes before the event day (please take my advice and follow suite for a more efficient dinner service), dishes starting filling the turn table slowly but surely, like some Chinese wedding banquet sequence gone haywire.Thanks to the ravenous appetites of my surrounding company, we soon got cracking on the intimidating stockpile of food.

The Ayam Buah Keluak appealed to me, regardless of its black ominous stare. For those clueless ones, Buak Keluak is a black nut originating from Indonesia, for this dish, these tough nuts are cracked, prepped with age old traditional methods to get rid of its toxins then then fleshy parts of the nut are removed, mixed into a delicious paste with minced pork and then stuffed back in the the shell. These, together with chicken are then stewed with a copious amounts of spices till tender. I found delight in Peramakan's version, the lavish amount of aromatic filling, highly addictive when mixed in with plain rice. 

The Nonya Chap Chye ($10) is not jaw dropping but scrumptious nonetheless, the cabbage achieving an ethereally soft texture carrying the full fledged flavor of the tau cheow (fermented soybeans). A light addition of dried shrimp introducing more umami to the dish.

Food here ranges from average to very good, but what is amazing is how reasonable the prices are. 

One dish we did not care for was the Otak Otak Makanan Laut ($18), a mackerel based otah with prawns in spicy paste. It had an almost turgid bite to the finished product, the innards not moist nor fragrant as you would with most generic versions.

Turn your attention instead to the Babi Pongtay and Penang Nyonya Pork Ribs,  the former stealing the limelight with its ode to the pork belly, swathed in a sweet and savoury sauce, this was sinfully rich enough with a good refreshing sharpness thanks to a good lashing of vinegar. The latter, a tad more popular amongst the health conscious folks around the table seeing that the dish was big of flavor without featuring such a 'waist-line detrimental' cut of meat.

Perfectly decent is the Beef Rendang, shin beef is used here and it is braised low and slow in a coconut based broth till fork tender. Being more accustomed to the Malay Nasi Padang store versions, I preferred my gravy more thick and textured from the use of desiccated coconut and hence found Peramakan's version a little pedestrian.

If there is still room for dessert (you'll be dammed if you insist you don't!), jump in on the Durian Chendol ($6), the mind blowing experience that comes from devouring the dreamy durian paste with the rich coconut milk and addictive savoury sweetness of the gula melaka syrup, like a random jolt of inexplicable bliss. Not to be missed! Other desserts like the Bubor Cha Cha and the Sago Gula Melaka paled in comparison to the mastery of engagement that the former offered to its tasters. Smitten, we were.

The Peramakan located at Keppel Club has my strong approval for proposed family birthday dinner venues. Armed with helpful staff who are non-intrusive, the joint sees a good healthy business even on a lethargic Monday. The fact of the matter is, you get good food in healthy servings that won't cost you an arm and a leg. What's there not to like?

Level 3 Keppel Club
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Singapore 109918

Revolution Coffee: Single Origin Coffee Roasters


Fans of the widely popular Single Origin Coffee Roasters in Sydney, hold on to your horses, now you can get your fix at Revolution Coffee at the coveted location along Media Circle! Having just came back from Sydney not long ago, I was more than thrilled to see the Reservoir blend being lugged back to our local shores. Thank goodness for the tenacity of owner Ajie Pramana, who saw his love for the humble roast to the end with the manifestation of this precious cafe.

With a menu conceptualised by Shen Tan; of the now defunct Wok and Barrel and new kid on the block Ujong, I prepared myself for a treat after a successful trip down coffee alley. My skim latte, full bodied with a good touch of bitterness on the finishing notes were a perfect late morning pick-me-up.

It doesn't take much convincing to be sold on the idea of the Pancakes with Gula Melaka Butterscotch and Bananas ($13), sounding completely like a dream team to begin with, this dish delivers on every level. The fluffy pancakes receiving a standing ovation welcome at the table. Every swipe of that rich palm sugar butterscotch inciting obscene moans from my family members.

And then you have the Corned beef hash ($13),  a play on the local favorite Malay dish, bergedel. . It's an attractive duo of golden crispy patties filled with a spicy corned beef hash. As much as I do agree with a little bit of spiciness with the referencing to Malay food, however, the dish tripped up majorly with a over gregarious overloading of chili padi throughout the filling that rendered the rest of the spices invisible. Perhaps a pinch of sweetness would have helped to soothened out the overbearing heat.

Big Brunch Breakfast ($16.90) is a good option for the ravenous versus the peckish; whilst my dish of 
Baked Eggs ($12) failed to impress with an overall lack of seasoning in the mix of capsicum, mushrooms, herbed potatoes and beef sausage hidden underneath the smouldering crust of cheddar cheese melt. Did I mention the door stopper sourdough toast I got on the side? I almost cracked my teeth biting down on that one.

Despite it's hits and misses, Revolution Coffee does seem capable of stealing the hearts of a regular clientele base, raking in the folks with its genuineness and respect for coffee. I, for one, might just head down for another cuppa soon!

Revolution Coffee
21 Media Circle

D'Bell: Indian food with a side of good laughs


Indian food for me has possibly been the least inspiring cuisine to date. Hardly ever do the nagging cravings for a good briyani or butter chicken dawn upon my munchies led diet. However, a session at D'Bell soon sorted that out. Right now, I'm hankering after a good Chicken Dum Briyani and I know where to get a mighty fine one.

D'Bell is a modern fine dining Indian restaurant which focuses more on the finesse of North Indian cooking with a little ode to Italian cuisine as well for variety. Governed with an iron rod by Chef Satish who has an arduously long 14 years of experience under his culinary accolades and a bunch of other shiny medals from culinary challenges such as that FHA's East Meets West; the kitchen achieves great things, some of which we got to savour over the course of the evening.

When we arrived at the scene, the end of the dining hall was occupied by a 'laughing yoga' group, their forced cackles that soon broke off into pleats of contagious laughter bouncing off the walls. This 'elephant in the room ' breaking down the steely almost 'too uptight' atmosphere in the dining premises. Upstairs, an intimate cocktail party was in full swing, the sexy bar and VIP lounge filled with office workers clasping delicately to their high rimmed glasses, the music and sophisticated ambiance egging them on, pleading with them to to let their hair down; let loose.

After the laughing in the room had subside, we approached the bar with trepidation. Mainly because we were unsure about the concept of Indian ingredients being fused in classic cocktails. These fears were countered with an overwhelming sense of warmness and generous hospitality provided by and in the signature cocktails.

Tamarind Dream ($20) house bourbon with homemade tamarind mix was a stunning combination of  contrasting notes, the sourness like that from a Chinese sour prune drink giving punchy characteristic to the alcoholic mix.

The Golden Moment ($20) was yet another hit with the diners in the group, as its refreshing grouping of fresh mango with pulp, passionfruit and kaffir glides so smoothly even with the strong presence of vodka. The hint of chili evoking an air of mystery. 

There was no need for grappling for food at the table. The dishes were fastidiously brought to the table in a grand fashion. We kicked off the meal with an array of appetisers. Despite the Lobster Bisqque ($12) won over the hearts of many with its robust flavors and despite it's strange misidentity as Indian cuisine, found a violent death with the continuous clanging of the soup spoon till the bottom of the bowl. Moving to the left, the Kofta Kebab, a beef croquette filled with cheddar cheese, prunes and dusted with semolina failed to maintain charm with it's slightly dry interior made worse only by the coating of semolina on it's minuscule surface. I would strongly recommend the Tawa Wali Fish, Chennai Express though, the butterfish cubes marinated for a good long 3-4hrs being being tossed in charcoal flames, resulting in it being out-of-this-world succulent with a dash of cheekiness from it's caramelised edges. The Tandoori Chicken Tikka did not tickle my fancy as well and at this juncture, my provoked palate, awakened by the depth of spices cried out for more...

We sampled a assortment of dishes fit for a king that night. And I shall present you with an illustrious description of a list that I thoroughly enjoyed; starting with the classic Butter Chicken ($18), the in-house version a bit sweeter and milder than i would normally like, however, the charred finish on the chicken tikka pieces were perfect savored with the lashings of creamy tomato sauce flavoured with fenugreek. Another dish not to be missed is the Mutton Rogan Josh ($20), a well executed dish with a perfect spice disposition rocked out by tender chunks of protein, devour this hearty dish with mountains of basmati rice and I guarantee you a happy man. My favourite dish of the night had to be the Kerala Fish curry ($18), the masala fish curry elevated to the next level with a clever touch of coconut millk. The butter fish fillet gently poached in the rich sauces soaking in the flavors like a sponge. I also loved the Kahdai Vegetables ($12) which injected a bit of sunshine to the otherwise brown on brown color scheme we were seeing a lot of throughout the night, the broccoli, cauliflower and capsicum putting some balance into our meat heavy menu. Aside from the usual suspect of Basmati rice to soak up the goodness of all those sauces, D'Bell serves up a huge variety of Naans which include the Chili Cheese Naan, Kashmiri Naan, Garlic Naan and even the Pudina Paratha, a flaky whole-wheat version of the tandoori bread (ranging from $5-$8).

The highlight of the meal arrived looking deceivingly like a chicken pot pie, the Hyderbadi Chicken Dum Briyani was a sight to behold, break thru the dough crust to reveal a steamy showing of supple chicken pieces with aromatic Indian spiced rice. At this very moment, I'm at a loss for words. But my rapacious repeated attacks at the dish despite my full belly speaking volumes.

Sad to say, desserts were a non-impressive showing that failed to capture the imagination and genuine talents of the Chef. The platter featuring smaller servings of the Rasmalai, Mango Kulfi and Chocolate Brownie was uninspired and honestly a tad disappointing.

Brushing that aside, indulging in the superb fare at D'Bell had provided me with waves of delight and I would strongly recommend it to those who have been jaded by the experience of having sub-par Indian cuisine which have often left us with bloated tummies and unsettled hearts. D'Bell will change all that... I promise.

43 North Canal Road
T: 65364046
Website: www.dbell.sg

Fat Cow: Leaves a bad taste in my mouth


Leave it in the hands of the experts of course.

Over at the Fat Cow, located aptly at the Camden Medical Center (in the case of heavy heart palpitations caused from gluttony); the Zen-like surroundings prepares one for the thrill of the cuisine at hand. The atmosphere is mildly cold and a tad intimidating for most, so, warm up with a cup of hot green tea or some well acquainted company is advised too.

The Donabemeshi ($68) is a pulse quickening dish of Wagyu beef grilled over charcoal and finished in a claypot of baked rice with onsen egg and house-seasoned shoyu. For those that relish in a good slice of claypot rice action, this my friends is a Rolls Royce version. The deliciously rich and salty wagyu breaking down at the slightest touch, it's delicate marbling combined with a gingerly sweetened basting sauce is a joy to eat with the plump Japanese rice. The grains of charred rice at the bottom providing a pleasing textural contrast to the conjugal bliss of melt-n-your mouth goodness.

My 45 Dry Aged Sirloin from Rangers Valley ($68) was a sight to behold when it was portioned out by the craftsman right before my eyes. My heart pleading with him to stop as he shaved the steak till it sat with prim precision on the flat board. I'm not fussed. The cooking was  long tedious affair, the thickness of the steak warranting a longer time on the Teppen, it's blistering heat building a distinctive crust. All went downhill as the Chef took the paddle to the metal with a deft slicing motion almost immediately after the steak came off the grill. The lack of resting time meant the muscle fibres haven't had time to relax and retain its juices, resulting in a deluge of juices flooding the plate. Outrageous... this is no way to treat a 400 day grain fed wagyu. I ate with grim face, the less than succulent meat leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Call me a snob but I believe that some respect is called for in such situations.

Word of advice, make your reservations before hand to avoid being disappointed. The Fat Cow sees a very busy lunch crowd so do take heed.

Fat Cow
Camden Medical Centre
1 Orchard Boulevard