Mikuni: Fugu (Puffer Fish) Grand Tasting Menu

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Walking past obscure doorways, one's eyes will take just over a few seconds to accustom to the ridiculously dim lighting in Mikuni, all in sharp contrast to the bright white lights that stream in from Raffles Shopping Center. For most, Mikuni is synonymous with the best sort of Japanese food in Singapore. Well, even if you arrived totally ignorant, the meal unfolds in such gustatory waves of pleasure that it convinces you of that fact persuasively. Such is the case of my recent meal at Mikuni where I was treated to an 8-course unique menu that delves deep into the perilous world of Globefish aka Fugu aka Puffer Fish.

Diners can be assured though, with the skillful and safe preparation of the Fugu by Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo and his team, coupled with the stict food handling laws that AVA has put into place; that this meal would be completely and utterly safe (not to mention heavenly!).  Available from now till the end of Jan 2016, Mikuni will be featuring a grand tasting menu flaunting the versatility and natural flavors of this delicacy; priced at $220 for 8 courses with the option to pair it with 4 varieties of premium sake for $330, this proves to be such a steal. Diners who just want to live on the edge a little without going full fledged into the degustation can opt for the Fugu a la carte items such as the Fugu Sashimi ($88), Fugu Tempura ($38) and Fugu Hot Pot ($48); each dish suitable for 2.

iO Italian Osteria: True Italian Style

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iO Osteria has a few problems. For one, service is a nightmare, the dining grounds akin to a battlefield soaked with the grievous stares of diners turned away at the door when trying to snag a seat without making a reservation. The enthusiastic Italian staff exchanging a flurry of heated conversation over a wrong order at the bar whilst chiding a local young girl who asked us twice about dishes that didn't belong to us. I hope these issues get resolved. I really do. Because food at iO Osteria is unbelievably good, and if you close your eyes amidst all the chaos, you will feel that a part of you is zipped away to Italy.

Sprigs: European Restaurant ventures out of the box with its New Menu

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It seems as if Sprigs had gained enlightenment; its bid to strike off heavier European flavors in favor of a newer and more adventurous stance, littered with the pungency of Asian flair; manifesting itself in the form of a revamped menu

While the previous menu sported a more rustic images, Titus Tiong, one of the founders of Sprigs was quite to notice the change of trends in the dining scene and made the mandatory call to overhaul the menu. Focusing on driving a more contemporary direction with more emphasis on the visual appeal of the dish. I hear you, sir.. with so many camera touting hipsters around, you might just want to work on making your dishes just a little prettier.

The meal kicks into gear with most dishes pushed out at a comfortable pace. The Friday night crowd just a little less intimidating than expected. Roasted Veal Carpaccio ($22) and the Baby Squid 'A la' Plancha ($22) whets the appetite -  the seemingly popular Northern Italian dish combines veal with a mayonnaise like sauce flavored with tuna. Sounds like a stretch, but the oddball configuration actually works out perfectly, the sluice of broken egg yolk flooding the slightly chaotic plate with more juices than desired. I would strongly recommend the baby squid instead, presented in a cast iron pan, this Spanish inspired dish with tender baby squid served over a sunny side up egg and decorated with lomo iberico, panzanella (a Tuscan bread salad) and a sprinkle of freshly chopped chili was a top notch dish that could have seen a flawless transition into breakfast form with the addition of chorizo.

[GIVEAWAY] Morganfield's: Christmas feasting with more than just Sticky Bones

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With Christmas just around the corner, the long enduring relationship between food and booze is reaffirmed again. No, this ain't a post about the merits of pairing alcohol with food, because sometimes I prefer to turn my focus to the former. Food, especially Christmas feasts refers usually to a massive, horrendously dry bird perched unceremoniously on a tray with side condiments of dull roasted vegetables and lumpy mashed potatoes, which you'll usually proceed to drown in processed brown gravy and store-bought cranberry sauce on the side to sweeten the appalling deal, before turning to the host to say, "This is lovely, (fill in victims name), we should do this again next year.". Fake smiles fill the awkward space in the room.

We all the drill. The intensive efforts it takes to plan a Christmas feast, much less prepare one from scratch. This year, cut yourself some slack and head on down to Morganfield's for some Christmas joy both in-store as well as take home packages for your home or office parties. Starting from 16th November onwards till 31st December, tuck into an enticing range of Christmas eats such as Bourbon Marmalade Glazed Leg of Ham, Christmas Roast Chicken and Pork Roast amongst a slew of other regulars. 

Food Snippets: [NEW OPENINGS] COCOIchibanya, Populus Cafe, Confetti, Seattle Pike Chowder,The Rotisserie

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Here's how we like doing it this Tuesday. Fast and furious.

Often stumped by the question, 'so, what are we eating later?,'  We round up several hot new venues that have just opened, veering towards the more family friendly style that perhaps have existed in a different forms before being reincarnated in new landmark. So whether you're craving a soul-satisfying roast chicken and gravy, a trendy instagrammable brunch plate or simply a bread bowl filled with chunky clam chowder, there's a Singapore restaurant that will satisfy. The scoop, below.

Meat Liquor Sin: EATs, BEATs & TREATs aka F*#< Brunch

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The moment these words 'free flow of legendary burgers' rolled off the screen, there was no way I was going to back out from a trip to Meat Liquor Sin's infamous Eats, Beats and Treats brunch. The lovely introduction - encompassing a holistic experience endorsed by the likes of free flow food and booze whilst being serenaded by DJ Oliver Osboune, followed by the final flourishing of a goodie bag packed with a handy visor, useful for playing the vampire role when faced with harsh sunlight after - was terribly enticing in its being. But, nothing prepared me for the actual sordid, grubby debuachery of an affair that was about to unfold itself, the moment you stepped into the shade; the thick smell of bacon fats hanging mid air.

The Waterfall @ Shangri-La Hotel: New Salumeria Menu & other heirloom signatures

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Don't get chasing waterfalls...
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to

Classic TLC lyrics that teach us not to get ahead of ourselves. Chef de Cuisine Marco De Vincentis threads on safe grounds with his expertise spreading to the new salumeria menu of exclusive imported cold cuts and cheese as well as 26 new a la carte heirloom creations that highlight his Southern roots, seeing that he hails from Naples - a scenic city hugging the Southern coasts of Italy.

What's that? - salumeria consisting of exclusive, imported cold cuts and cured meats, as well as artisanal cheeses from the counter. We hearsay they have a creamy Burrata Pugliese Pomodori Marinati stashed somewhere in there too!

Contrary to popular belief, The Waterfall is not a buffet restaurant (thought I might get that assumption out of the way first to avoid some quizzical looks as I dive deeper into the mechanics of the Italian feast that we indulged in here) - residing in the lovely enclave of the hotel poolside, the rustic charms of the colonial decor takes one back into a seemingly different era, where its acceptable to be sipping on mai tais in broad daylight while trying to make a white plastic pool deck chair look sexy. 

None of that nonsense for now. Let's talk food.

Tin Hill Social: Dreamboat of culinary expectations

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After looking through the menu at Tin Hill Social, you'll immediately start to formulate ways to squeeze in more nosh in your tummy. The mesmeric carte du jour heralding several choices of  meat cuts presented in abstract ways such as the hay smoked pork ribs and sous vide octopus leg served with romesco sauce and hazelnuts. Making a choice, may just be the toughest part yet; the resistance to wipe out all of the wasabi fries in the mess tin coming in a close second.

Crab-Hunting @ 姑妈家 & Joyden Treasure

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You don't have to have a mother who can remotely cook a single dish in the kitchen without catching the corner of her frilly apron on fire (a bit of a stretch, I know) to appreciate the charms of the food being served up at  姑妈家, located at the far end of the food-centric Macpherson Road.

The storefront and interior are kept minimal and simple as if to preserve high strung days where the establishment grounds were packed wall to wall with hungry diners. Nowadays, the rare family occasional rolls in on a weekday night; the lazy susan bearing significantly lesser burden than in those hay days. That being said, 姑妈家 with its homey environment and earnest sit-down diner experience is something suited for the large family get togethers. 

House @ Dempsey: High Tea Party goes green

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To cut to the chase, popular vintage high tea at House @ Dempsey has seen a face lift. Currently donning a more herbaceous look with the kitchen taking a conscious effort to incorporate fresh herbs into their signature comfort food.

It's all about making the prettiest plates here for that ultimate flat lay to be exhibited with the intentions of braggadocio or accidental evidence that you've skipped work for a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon to have high tea with the girlies. carelessness. TSK.

Merdandy Raffles Place: let's focus on the grub.

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'It's a daily struggle, especially the part where we have to turn down guests who come in looking for an after-work tipple,' Alvin says, 'initially, it's heartbreaking, but after a while, it becomes normalcy.'

I hear you Alvin. 

Merdandy, Haji Lane's biggest player alongside the groovy Blue Jaz cafe has decided to venture out of its comfort hipster zone and don a business suit instead. Situated on Chulia street in the midst of Raffles Place, the 2nd outlet retains its too-cool-for-school alfresco settings, but ramps up the front in the food department with a more concrete menu. Unfortunately due to a certain sort of recklessness, the granting of the alcohol license has been severely delayed, hence a trip to the joint would mean giving your liver a lovely respite from the daily damage. I speak on my part mostly; but for one, I was glad to be able to savor the quality of bar grub in absolute clarity.

Tamarind Hill: VITAGEN Less Sugar celebrates SGWeekendFeast

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The persistent haze has not stopped Singaporeans from dining out, judging from the turn out at the staggering number of food events in the last few weeks - we deduce that Singaporeans clearly live to eat.

Last weekend, we had the honour of attending the finale of Vitagen's fun-filled #SGWeekendFeast held at the pristine new Tamarind Hill, a modern Thai-Chinese Bar restaurant atop Labrador Hill.

As part of the unique collaboration, celebrity chefs Sam and Forest Leong were both present at their live cooking counters and the couple also came up with a special menu, together with Vitagen inspired drinks and desserts for their guests. Besides having food meticulously prepared from the counter by the duo, we were also supplemented with an endless food supply from the BBQ and buffet station! Talk about a feast...

District 10 Bar & Grill: Dry Aged Meat Nirvana

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'God, I could just live here,' I cooed in between fat-filled bites of the fiorentina steak. And it isn't just the plantation dark rum talking, it's easy to be charmed by the deadly smells of charred meat coming from the small window exposing the bustle and heat from the grill, adjustable by crank wheels; all that in between being smitten by the breezy chef Luca Pezzera, Co-owner and Executive chef of the Bonta Group who wields the larger-than-life cleavers with feign intimidation. 

Situated at the ground floor lobby of the newly revamped Suntec City Tower 2, its hard to miss the dry-aged meat nirvana. The ominous highlight of the diner, clearly evident the moment you step onto establishment's grounds - the European meat showcase with massive displays of proteins and delectable cheese teasing your visual senses. Then, there's the dedicated chiller behind the bespoke butchers block filled with choice cuts, dry-aged in house that scream business. So, let's get down to the bottom of things, why does dry-aged meat encompass so much more luxury than usual? - that's because dry ageing allows for enzymes to break down connective tissues in the muscles which soften and tenderises meat; resulting in a higher concentration of natural flavors in the protein. This usually involves a slightly extravagant price tag, but its all worth while in my opinion.

Mitzo: $100Gourmet Michelin Dining || Swiss harmony.

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You'll probably know Switzerland as one of the world's safest and most neutral nation, possessing some of Europe's most open gun laws. Hence it's no surprise to find Chef Rolf Fliegauf, hailing from 2 Michelin Stars ECCO Ascina and Ecco St. Moritz working in peaceful unanimity with Chef Nicky (previous head chef at Michelin-starred Hakkasan NYC) for the November's edition of $100Gourmet collaboration happening from the 6th to the 9th.  The meeting of minds resulting in some visually arresting plates deserving of media attention as well as the congregation of gourmands.

Quick Picks: Roll-Up & Ramen Bari-Uma

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Once again, its time for a couple of quick picks around town. Spots where you can jump in and out for a meal on the fly, yet still emerge with a stomach full of contentment at the end.

Roll-Up, an unpretentious little joint dishing out kebabs along the riotous boat quay area is a good time. You'll smell it before you experience it, thanks to the fumes of Indian spices floating from the tandoor oven within the kitchen. Despite the spoken affiliation to most late night kebab stands, the lack of grime and inherent insipidness in the decor, made it hard for me to build those connections. Needless to say, my stay in Sydney itself, housed right smack on George street in the city, saw me breeding familiarity with the neighbourhood kebab shop - a filthy 24 hour outlet churning out huge platters of grilled meats for the drunkards late into the night. Truth be told, Roll-Up was none of that, the finesse in the final product further proving this point.

Idaten Udon: where you are your own boss.

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If you're looking for a quick place around town for lunch,  then Idaten would fit the bill perfectly. Both in light of the time aspect as well as where monetary finances are concerned. RE&S branches out their power chain of Japanese establishments with yet again another winning concept - Idaten Udon, adding to the enterprise's successful portfolio of quintessentially Japanese restaurants. 

Here at the casual diner located at the sharp bend of the citylink mall leading up from the escalator, you can be the ultimate decision maker for your own Udon meal. Bent on providing a no-frills self-serve concept that specializes in udon, diners don't have to worry about meddlesome service staff hanging around tables or footing the extra service tax.