Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

It has been more than a year since my last visit to Le Binchotan and the French-Japanese restaurant has come a long way since. Chef Jeremmy Chiam has taken over the reigns as Chef-Owner, the style is more restaurant than izakaya now, and the dishes are cooked with more finesse.
The focus is still on using French and Japanese ingredients and techniques, with a surprising touch of binchotan character and taste in each dish. 
Take the Uni & Caviar ($25) for instance. At first look and taste , you wonder where the binchotan is featured. Well, it's in hidden the cold corn mousse- some charred corn kernels suspended in the smooth sweet cream for contrast. Dig into the briny and sweet wild-caught bafun uni and sturgeon caviar. Note that the spheres are not ikura but shoyu for that added flavor. This is one uni-corn combination that you cannot afford to miss out on! 
Judging by the name- Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12), i was expecting a charred eggplant to appear on my plate but all that char was removed, leaving only the slippery flesh. The meat was served cold with yogurt and a lightly spiced sesame dressing (more fragrant than spicy). If you're into eggplant, this is a good appetizer to get your stomach juices flowing.
I wished I had more to offer you on the lush green Azores Islands, the hidden secret of Portugal. Like trekking through the verdant green landscapes in São Miguel, checking out volcanoes (the islands are still volcanic), or canyoning in Sao Jorge.. 
BUT the weather on Azores is insanely unpredictable, as they are in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by absolutely nothing, and we ended up spending 3 gloomy rainy days on it, and missing out on all possible outdoor activities. 
We chose to stay on São Miguel, which is the largest island of the lot. The flight from Lisbon took about 2.5h and there are 5 - 6 flights daily. What we did managed to do in that cold wetness, was to get warm in the volcanic hot springs though! Head over to Furnas on São Miguel, quite famous for their natural thermal pools for a relaxing soak.
Hot Spring Pool Dona Beija comes recommended by many. It's a far cry from the Japan onsens that we are accustomed to. There are 3 - 4 pools, mostly crowded, and the water was at best warm. Still, go try it if you're there. 

Another place to take a dip on Furnas is at Parque Terra Nostra. The magnificent garden has several pools and you can also enjoy the different trees, plants, and flowers in the huge compound. 
Portugal is the new destination to visit in western Europe and in particular, the sun-kissed capital Lisbon, which bustles with life and energy, just like a mini-NYC. Galleries, museums, markets, azure blue ocean and great surfs, are just around the corner. 
The country aims to please really, with budget-friendly great eats and English speaking locals, it is extremely easy for anyone to visit. Here are some tips to visiting Lisbon, Portugal. 
1. Start with a walking tour of the city. Because it's the best and fastest way to get acquainted with the city's unique neighborhoods and also gain insights on the city's history, as well as tips and tricks known to locals. 
Like how you shouldn't bother paying to go up the Santa Justa lift for the view of the city when you can just walk right up to the top. 
Or how the Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George's Castle, which is perched atop Lisbon's highest hill in Alfama, is a fake castle that is built to rip off the tourists. I say, run up there for the egg tarts at Pastelaria Santo Antonio. They are pretty worth the workout calories.
Am not keeping up with all the new openings but Tablescape at the new Grand Park City Hall is one decent Modern European restaurant. Helmed by Executive Chef Robert Chan, Tablescape aims to serve classic fine dining dishes that are not pretentious, and at an affordable price. 
Dinner started on a high with the bread selection from the trolley. I had a hard time holding myself back from the house baked breads. The aroma of buttery buns was simply rousing. 
My favorites were the Focaccia with Cheese (lovely pull-apart bun); and the Onion Bread (buttery and crunchy exterior with an airy inside). The Squid Ink Brioche was super fluffy too! 
Salmon Gravlax with Vegetable Shavings, Lemon Myrtle Oil and Cream Cheese Ice Cream ($16) features thick cut, sashimi grade salmon which wasn't too salty. I enjoyed the refreshing lemon spritz on the fish and the cheese ice cream hit all the umami notes without overpowering the salmon. 
The Steak Tartare ($24) & crispy battered poached egg. Crunchy bits of spicy onion, cold smooth USDA beef, warm oozy yolk with crispy batter and aioli.
Dessert parlour Sugarhaus by day, speakeasy steakhouse Fat Belly by night. These two are reasons why you can camp out at Serene Centre for the whole day without having to go hungry. 
In the day, Sugarhaus offers diners of all ages homemade European-inspired ice cream. My favorite was the smooth-like-butter Dutch Chocolate which is made with a concoction of different types of chocolates. The Sea Salt Toffee is another one that you cannot miss. I love the saltiness in this, which has a butter caramel aftertaste. Have the ice cream on their own ($3.50/$4.30 per scoop) or with their fresh waffles ($6). 
Other exciting flavors include Sour Cherry, made with amarena cherries imported from Italy; or the Hibiscus Yogurt for an exotic and aromatic treat. 
Apart from ice cream, of course there are a mix of homemade desserts on display at the counter. Fat Belly is where i had my first galaxy cake and i must say that it changed my mind on artificial looking cakes (which is the main reason why i did not eat any earlier).
Sugarhaus’ Galaxy Tart ($8) is a dome of beautiful white chocolate mirror glaze that is filled with chocolate mousse, raspberry jelly and chocolate crumble. It's a lovely mix of tartness and rich smoothness. 
Next up is the Lemon Popsicle Tart ($8). As its name suggests, the mouth-watering tart comes in the shape of a popsicle filled with lemon sable, lemon parfait and coated with white chocolate. I love the sharpness in the lemon cream, with a crunchy sable that is reminiscent of the Chinese cashew cookie. 
Sugarhaus also offers a simple menu of savoury options available till 5pm. We started with the Melted Cheese Toastie ($12) which has gruyere, cheddar, and mozzarella sandwiched in a distinctly sour sourdough from Woodlands Sourdough next door. Not my preferred toastie sadly.
How about a modern okonomiyaki? The Corn & Zucchini Fritters ($15) was more on the wet floury spectrum, slightly salvaged by my love for kewpie mayo, bonito flakes and okonomiyaki sauce. AND THAT FRIED BACON! And sunny side up egg. 
For a more filling bite, the Crab Linguine ($22) satisfies with the heady and umami peppery prawn sauce. Shards of shredded blue swimmer crab claw added a sweetness to the savory pasta. The linguine was on the slightly softer end but i wouldn't mind ordering this again. 
Come nightfall, the bar section of Sugarhaus turns into Fat Belly, serving a lucky 10 customers alternative cuts of beef, particularly the Flat Iron (or Oyster Blade). The menu also features other cuts such as short rib, skirt, rib-eye. 
The Flat Iron ($22), was quite marbled and tender. It certainly has more meaty flavors than the usual steak though i still prefer a ribeye. All steaks come with a side of house salad and chimichurri sauce. Very Argentinean.
For an additional $5, guests can also enjoy side dishes such as Creamed Kale and Guanciale Mac & Cheese. There will also be one dessert exclusively available on Fat Belly’s menu: the Foie Gras ($13) is served with foie gras ice cream, brulee banana, speculoos and roasted nuts. If that's too funky for you, stick with their usual, they're good.

Sugarhause and Fat Belly
#01-03A, Serene Centre, 10 Jalan Serene, Singapore 258748 
Tel: +65 6314 2247 
Sun - Thu: 11am - 10pm, 6 - 10pm (Fat Belly)
Fri & Sat: 11am - 11pm (Last order 5pm for hot food; 15 minutes before closing for desserts), 6pm - 11pm (last order 10pm)
One last Chinese New Year post before i fly off for Hokkaido! Presenting yet another indulgent meal at Yan Ting at the St. Regis Singapore. This Chinese New Year, they go back to time-honored classics for the ultimate celebration. 
Yan Ting typically does fine Cantonese classic that is refined and delicate so i was surprised at the bold flavors that is very typical of old-school cooking. I really do mean it in a good way. 
We started with the Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon. This tossed salad has jellyfish, marinated papaya, pomelo, honeydew and snow pear. For crunch, there's plenty of fried egg noodles, crispy salmon skin, and heaps of peanuts! 
Next, a simple but comforting Double-boiled Bamboo Fungus Consommé with Cabbage and Mushroom. I don't know about you but this is what i look forward to after days of CNY feasting. The cabbage was perfectly soft without disintegrating and it gave the soup a light sweetness.
Not into OTT Chinese New Year reunion meals? Then head to Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant for their Reunion Imperial High Tea (新春团圆宫廷下午茶) instead! I've always been a fan of their high tea because they're portioned just perfectly for a lady (though guys may complain of the portion). The 9-course dim sum and tea pairing set menu comprises yusheng customised for the party size (even for one), handcrafted dim sum, as well as Chinese New Year desserts. 
We started with the Prosperity Salmon Yusheng, which takes on a western style with salad vegetables but the orange dressing with candied orange peel gives the dish a Chinese spin. 
Long Jing is served for the dimsum course. But over at the TOP of UOB Plaza, as they have a spanking new cocktail bar Chuān @ The Sixtieth, they have added on a cocktail to their dimsum-tea menu. For the reunion menu, Jubilant Gathering (欢菊一堂) is served. It is a specially concocted craft cocktail made of vodka and chrysanthemum tea, and a lemon ice ball that melts into the drink slowly. We loved the fragrance of the tea in this delicate cocktail! 

Handmade dimsum is served next. Every item is hand made and they are so delicate! We hear that the items on the high tea menu are specially created but sometimes they'd include 1 or 2 items from the regular dimsum menu inside. We particularly enjoyed the steamed juicy seafood wrapped in seaweed (pictured left). The broth from the seafood was so delicious we literally drank it all. The pink mushroom dumpling had filling that is encased in this amazing thin mochi skin. Oh, special mention goes to the crispy yam puff in curry paste, which was super crispy (and not oily at all).
If you intend to 避年 (skip Chinese New Year) like I do, but don’t wanna miss out on the festivities, may I suggest a staycation at the lovely Capella, on the Singapore tourist island Sentosa (haha new branding), and tossing your way to prosperity at their onsite Chinese restaurant Cassia
Well the highlights for Chinese New Year is the Lou Hei ($38/pax min 2pax) and this you can’t get it overseas. This colorful pyramid of vegetables, designed by the Executive Chef of Cassia, Chef Lee Hiu Ngai, uses a medley of premium ingredients. The sauce for 2018 is a hawthorn sauce, which adds a lovely berry tartness to the crunchy salad.
Lobster, salmon, North Pole clam adorn this salad. These are sashimi grade seafood btw, so it’s understandable if you don’t want them mixed into the salad but to enjoy them on their own.
Do not miss the Double-boiled thick chicken broth with sea cucumber, fish maw, duo of scallop and flower mushroom soup. The rich, creamy soup contains all the goodness from the poultry and the seafood were succulent and sweet. I’m such a fan of Cassia’s soups!
Every Chinese New Year, i'd be looking forward to the decadent creations by InterContinental Singapore Executive Chef Eric Neo at Man Fu Yuan (满福苑), one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. From now till 2 Mar 2018, indulge in five 5-8 course prix-fixe festive menus.
Begin the festivities with a toss to a prosperous year ahead with new creation, the Prosperity Yu Sheng with Hokkaido Scallops, Salmon, and Sake Goma Sesame Dressing (双星报喜). 
Those looking for a more indulgent celebration can opt for the Fortune Menu (五福临门) which features the Treasures Yu Sheng with Abalone, Hokkaido Scallops and Salmon served with a sake-goma sauce. I loved the balance of 酸甜苦辣 in every bite of salad. That and the luscious slices of seafood!
What's a proper Chinese meal without Double-boiled Chinese Soup? We sampled the creamy pork bone soup with fish maw, bamboo pith, and the prized fresh Matsutake mushrooms (fresh from Yunnan). The aroma was intoxicating but i wished the soup was less salty.
When it comes to pig, no one does it better than Man Fu Yuan. I'm a HUGE FAN of their Whole Suckling Pig stuffed with Glutinous Rice (read review here) which is a staple on their menu. If you like to try something different, this pig-duck-veg-carb sandwich made with roasted suckling pig, pan-seared foie gras, citrus-marinated daikon, and crepe could be your alternative. While it was suggested that we wrap all of that using the crepe, we ended up eating each item individually because they were massive. The crispy suckling pig was faultless but i thought the foie gras was an overkill and the crepe was more of a "paper towel" to absorb the oil from the goose liver.  
Some fishy is going on at the recently opened Nototel on Stevens Road. FiSK Seafoodbar & Market has set up shop, making it the dining and shopping heaven for seafood lovers. 
A wide variety of  Norwegian and coldwater seafood is available. Fresh, sustainable, traceable, healthy, and safe, these are some qualities of the seafood brought in by Snorre Food, whose founder and CEO opened FiSK. Contrary to common beliefs that frozen food isn’t fresh,  we learned that some fish retain their freshness, flavors, and nutritional benefits when gutted, cleaned, and immediately frozen until consumption. Well, the food at FiSK certainly changed our beliefs. 
Prawns on Ice ($6/100g) are from the cold waters of Norway. These little prawns are imported frozen for freshness and defrosted at room temperature before serving. Get yours hands dirty and you'd be rewarded with the sweet flavors of the sea. A surprise is hidden under the bellies of these little shrimps.