Cheng's Gourmet Food Bar: Don't get your hopes up too high

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Before you jump on the car and race on over to the nearest and newest Westie joint in high hopes for an immaculate waffle affair. Hold your horses and read on.

Cheng's Gourmet Food bar located along the infamous stretch of 'sure tio summon' shop houses along Clementi Road. A blessing for NUS students looking to curb their late night munchies since the vicinity houses popular joints such as Fong Seng Nasi Lemak  and Niqqi's The Cheese Prata Shop. For a healthier option with more solid bites, you can now turn to Cheng's Gourmet Food Bar as an alternative. And if it's beer you're after, Cheng's touts quite an extensive list.

Tanuki Raw reopens at Orchard Central: New menu items

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Here's a disclaimer: I've only ever been to Tanuki Raw once. And that was to grab happy hour oysters coupled with a rather dreadful martini. Not the best idea to rally up the weekend. But upon hearing of its recent revival in Orchard Central with a more focused vision on improving the cocktail programme and introducing more quirky fusion dishes. Second chances were due, mostly because friendly face, Howard Lo, had been so convincing over cocktails at his intoxicating venture, The Secret Mermaid.

[NEW] Burger Joint Singapore: Good things come to those who Wait

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Imagine

You just knocked off work and are immediately besieged by the unkind and humid weather. In spite of all this, all you can think about is that new burger joint that just opened. Maybe about a block down, maybe 5 blocks down. Heck, who cares? You walk past Gemmill lane, the neon burger sign beckons from afar. And my god, that delicious grilled meat scent wafting through the thick velvet curtains is unmistakable. Push past those gymming regiments and yield to the alluring siren call of the neon sign. Here, you make a deft left turn. And, alas, this is exactly the sight that greets you at Le Parker Meridien Hotel.

And what a sight at that. The ambience is like Happy Days all over again, albeit with the unmistakable vibe of the New York hip jazz scene as sounded through the speakers.

The Flying Squirrel (Private Works): Tomi No Oka wines Media Lunch

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Call me plain ignorant or just narrow-minded, but the recent lunch session organised by Tomi No Oka Wines distributed by Beam Suntory was a real eye-opening introduction to the world of Japanese wines.

Strictly speaking, there are no unique local grape varietals in Japan, but however, the uprising of a few mutated species which have evolved gradually over many centuries have been deemed worthy of being an indigenous Japanese varietal; the Muscat Bailey A and Koshu for example, some of the excellent varietals employed in the making of Tomi No Oka wines. A winery located in the shadow of Mt Fuji - Tomi no oka possess the rare qualities that make the land so succinctly perfect for raising good vines. Everything from the well-drained volcanic soil to the low rainfall and long hours of sunshine received on the Southern facing slopes and menacingly fluctuating temperatures proceed to nurture and mature the grapes at an accelerated rate.

Even though much of the domestic produce is used for domestic consumption, Tomi no Oka is on the prowl to expand into international markets. Singapore being one of their pits stops on their journey. Hence, Beam Suntory Asia, their distributor had arranged for a media wine pairing lunch with The Flying Squirrel (Private Works) to showcase the versatility of the wines in accordance to food pairings.

Teppei Syokudo: DIY Kaisen-don at Bargain prices

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For those strongly against the idea of ever queueing for your food, Teppei Syokudo, a derivative of the ever-popular Teppei in Tanjong Pagar; one which credentials are worthy of its 2-3 month long wait list for its omakase; would be your best choice to get  a gist of the quality sans the outrageous waiting time.

Located in the Basement 4 of Ion Orchard, Teppei Syokudo is causing quite a stir in the F&B scene, conjuring dreams of DIY Kaisen dons at really affordable pricing. Having quite the penchant for chirashi dons (as you can see from my top 5 list) the trip was mandatory as it was painless to the wallet.

How does it work?

First, pick your size ($8.80 for S, $15.80 for M and $19.80 for L); then the base of either sushi rice or salad. Next up, choose the basic seafood ingredients ranging from salmon to swordfish, tuna and scallops (2 choices for S, 4 for M, 6 for L) and lastly get your add ons. This portion gets a little tricky as items such as avocado (which we later learnt was somewhat justifiable since an entire avocado went into the mix) would set you back at $3.80 whilst other worthwhile picks such as Unagi and Ikura proved to better value for money despite its monotonous color scheme.

Proceed to the counter to pass your chit sheet to the counter staff and VOILA!, you'll be presented with your own uniquely created kaisen-don within minutes.

iO Italian Osteria: like eating at Nonna's place

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Visits to iO Italian Osteria always bring a smile to my face. Warm affectionate service staff with occasional burst of passive-aggressive enthusiasm. "Eat the food when its hot, OK?" bellows Chef Anna Borrasi as she thrusts the piping hot and and saucy looking Raviolocci with beef filling into your hands. The imaginary wooden rolling pin she was holding in hers proving to be a tad menacing at this point. Not to say that there is an air of 'Italian Mafia' spirit here, but that's exactly what I'm saying..and here family matters are not to be trifled with. So put away your phones and devices and try to enjoy a good time in good company.

iNCOGNiTO Bar: Chye Seng Huat Hardware, After Dark

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So, if you think Chye Seng Huat Hardware is hip, with its obscure industry-chic settings and hidden entrance way; then you'll love what it transforms into, after dark. 

Once the sun sets, the outer dens evolves into a candle-lit craft beer garden, shrouded in waves of secrecy and lingering shadows cast on white walls to match. After the thrill of discovery has washed over you, proceed to up your booze knowledge with a round of craft beers, available in both the bottled form and a healthy range of 4 alternating drafts on tap. 

Casual pub life is clearly reflected in the stripped down 'interior' of Chye Seng Huat and these impressions run through the simple food menu as well. You can't fault the concept, the stark contrast to nearby craft beer snob, Druggist and its tish-tosh set up; sending younger hipsters, mostly noobs to the subject of craftbeers, straight to their doorstep.

Crystal Jade Prestige: Affordable Chinese Fine Dining in MBFC

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When one door closes, another opens. So goes the trend for the restaurant closures and openings. I must confess to being rather heartbroken once I realized that my media tasting destination was the opulent Paradise Pavilion which delicious renditions of custard bao and fried carrot cake, I had taken so fondly upon during my last visit. However, upon setting foot onto familiar territory, it was a wee bit comforting knowing that decor subtleties had barely changed and the space still had the same rigour and newfangled swishes of gold, charged up by transparent glass windows for that contemporary feel in contrast to the old-school purple heavy velvet get up usually spotted.

Arteastiq: New High Tea and Weekday Brunch Menu

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The sweeping view of the busy streets along Orchard Road never seems to fail my amusement every time I step up to the quaint tea salon that is Arteastiq; squirrelled away into the most obscure corner of the Mandarin Gallery. Despite (or rather, because) of its mysterious seclusion, the joint sees a roaring business; funded by Tai-tais cradling their porcelain cups of tea and the occasional painting enthusiast who gamely decides to go for an art jamming session.

For those who prefer the day-time vibes on a weekend, you'll be glad to know that Arteastiq's newly launched High Tea set, though severly overdue, has risen to standards with a dedicated bakery team now manning an entire station near the entrance to the shop. 

Decker Barbecue: Low and Slow

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Let's begin by putting on the table what Decker Barbecue is and isn't. A date night place? NO, unless you're a no-frills, carnivorous girl like me; it wouldn't be such a brilliant idea lugging your first date to this place. For weight-watchers? HELL NO, the intimidating menu showcasing various meat cuts, all cooked low and slow to guarantee a satisfactory fat maintenance will leave you with heart palpitations all night. And vegetarians, you've already been warned, not unless you're going to go the mile and call fries a vegetable; then you've been warned.