Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Farther off Robertson Quay is Rodyk Street, which was for a bit, a hipster spot (thanks to Toby's Estate). Even though i used to frequent this spot, i've not noticed Verre, formerly a wine bar hidden behind dark and heavy drapes. Thankfully, after a relaunch, Verre Modern Bistro and Wine Bar has lost all that darkness and brought light, and great food to its mix. 
The new direction cannot be a better choice really. With their expertise in wine (they have over 750 labels of fine wine mainly from Bordeaux and Burgundy), Verre is able to provide great pairings with their Modern French dishes created by Chef Consultant Masashi Horiuchi (who also manages Shelter in the Woods). We had an extensive night of food and wine pairings, something easily done since one could have over 30 wines by the glass with your food choice.
A good start to a meal at Verre would be the creamy Chicken Liver Parfait ($24) paired with a reduction of port wine, madeira wine shallot, balanced with a tangy mandarin orange jelly and a dehydrated honeycomb-like mandarin orange. This was paired with a dry lemon lime Paringa Estate Riesling 2012 ($19.50). 
The Half Lobster Salad ($38) features a sweet Maine lobster cooked in court bouillon, with a creamy guacamole and a refreshing calamansi and honey dressing. I would order this dish for the sweet and tangy dressing! The wine pairing was the Stick Chardonnay 2013 ($18) with flavors of grapefruit, white peach, citrus and oak spice.
I enjoy fine dining, dishes plated like art, and deep conversations over a good red. But sometimes, raucous-energetic-casual is the perfect way to let loose and unwind, with small plates and bites, plus tipples (always). Missing the open air Fukuoka yatais and smoky izakayas in Nagoya, we headed to Uma Uma at its latest location on the Japanese Food Street at Millenia Walk. Here, we kicked back with grilled Yakitori and Kushikatsu,  cocktails and drinks by Horse’s Mouth and Hakata-styled ramen from Uma Uma Ramen.
It really felt like we walked into a Hakata izakaya at Uma Uma, with its slightly crampish seating, long bar/ramen counter and warm Japanese hospitality. Orders were placed swiftly, so that the a la minute sticks with homemade sauces (created by Head Chef, Shota Kaneko) would arrive quickly.  
Ingredients are imported twice weekly from Japan and the quality is best presented through grilling. My favorite Yakitori sticks are the Tsukune (chicken balls with soft bone) which was juicy with some crunch! All resolve to eat healthy will obliterate with a stick (or 2) of that crispy and sweet grilled chicken skin! How did i resist this for so long?! The Butabura (Pork Belly) and chicken thigh were a tad dry-ish and bland for my liking. And obviously I'm not a fan the bland soft bone. All Yakitori sticks are priced between $2 - 3 each.
If you're young and strong and are in for some fun and play in your yoga practice, then Vikasa Yoga Retreat Koh Samui will be perfect for you. This cliff side 'resort' will give you a stair master workout, which i think is great for that perky butt (werk it girls and boys) but may be pretty straining for some but hey, that's why you're going to a retreat right? 
After focusing on my Ashtanga practice for a week at Samahita Retreat (read review here), i shifted over to Vikasa Yoga Retreat (because i didn't want to leave Samui and so i extended my stay). Vikasa is a depart from the quietness that is Samahita. Read on to find out the difference. 
A quick run down on how to get to Vikasa Yoga and what to do. 
Step 1: Book a room
Morning Ashtanga self practice instead of Meditation class
Vikasa is an all inclusive yoga retreat, which means that you only need to pick your choice of accommodation, and you'll get access to all the group yoga classes conducted, facilities, and 2 daily buffet meals. Creatures of comfort should go with the Superior Ocean View Rooms (the ones facing the pool, near the Big Shala, are the best). Also, they are slightly nearer to the top, which means slightly fewer steps, but it guarantees you a nice ass still. Somehow i didn't book that one and i ended up in a less inferior standard Ocean Room (with balcony and semi outdoor shower). BAH. 
My semi outdoor shower, which i shared with my pet lizard which terrorized me every night. Where is the bathtub that i was promised?! 
The Zen bungalows
The Beach Bungalows are kinda really far out and i think the steps are pretty jagged and dangerous especially when navigating around at night. If you're a fan of A Bug's Life, then the Zen Bungalow would be your thing. College backpacker type can go for the Yoga Caves, which are essentially cubes with shared shower facilities. 

Step 2: Go for yoga classes
With 4- 5 classes a day which includes a meditation class every morning and a mix of powerful vinyasa and restorative yin kind of classes, there will be a class suitable for any yogi, from first timers to more advanced practitioners. I enjoyed the guided practice after all that Mysore at Samahita (though i did continue with my own Ashtanga practice on top of the Vikasa classes). Manduka mats are provided at each of the 3 outdoor shalas and they're pretty new and clean (yogis clean them using sanitizing spray after every class). Be covered in strong insect repellent or let the mosquitoes test your yogic concentration. Oh they bit through my Liquido leggings. Yea. If you're looking at becoming a yoga teacher, Vikasa provides a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification. The crowd? It's mostly 20ish Caucasians looking to have fun, and maybe some purpose in life. 
Teachers wise, George and Alisa were great! Both are strong teachers and give tough classes but both are friendly, positive and humble. I was amazed at myself for completing the effortless transition from bhujanbikasana, flying crane, to bakasana, held it there and then jump back to chaturanga during the Vikasa class with Alisa. 
George also does a really fun acro yoga class if you managed to try it. I certainly had fun being spun around. It's all about building trust here- trust that your base doesn't drop you, and that your spotters will catch you when you do. For an interesting class, try Simon, a trippy yin yoga dude with a British sense of humor. Sergio did a great guided meditation and i felt myself focusing despite my horrible attention span. 
Step 3: Eat
I was rewarded with healthy tasting food at breakfast and dinner (both included in the per night price). Buffet style is done here and maybe i did overeat a little but hey, it's all vegetables and clean stuff which were mostly vegetarian with vegan options. 
Breakfast favorites were the muesli, chia seed pudding, mashed pumpkin (because i love), crepes with some of that yummy maca chocolate sauce. 
Dinner is a huge amazing spread with 1 seafood (fish/squid) option and 1 serving of dessert (they dont't give seconds). I could not resist that zucchini noodles with pesto sauce, edamame beans, thai stir fry zucchinis and the sourish cold rice vermiceilli. Be prepared to eat very well. 
Between meals, if you feel snacky, the Vikasa cafe is a great place to lounge and grab some juices, smoothies, and energy balls (those were amazing). Fuller options like burritos, salads, and Thai food are available too. 
Step 4: Chill
There may not be a nice flat sandy beach, but you can lie on the flat rocks if you want to. The view is quite spectacular and it's possible to swim (if you're a strong swimmer). That or laze by the gorgeous infinity pool. You know it's the perfect place to strike your yoga pose in that IG photo because they even have blocks for you to balance on. Yea...
The spa is pretty amazing too with great ocean views by its cliff side location. It's super private as well. I enjoyed my Deep Tissue massage and they even have a special Thai Yoga Massage created specially for yogis. 
Step 5: Repeat
I can definitely do this all day err day man. Of course, you can also get out of the retreat to one of those night markets, just so you can say that you actually visited Koh Samui. The convenient location of Vikasa makes it easy to get to Lamai or Chawang Beach on a tuk tuk or taxi. 

A tip for you on getting to and from Vikasa from the airport. The taxi/minivan service (approx THB200/way) is much cheaper than the Vikasa transport (THB500/way) so you may want to consider that if the timing is right. 
Friends have asked which yoga retreat i preferred. Well.. I liked both actually so it really depends on whether you prefer variety (Vikasa) or serenity (and the punishing Ashtanga- Samahita). But whatever it is, Koh Samui is definitely another yogi heaven.

211 Bontji Moo 4 Koh Samui 84310, Thailand
Phone:+66 77 422 232
There's no better way to catch up with my girls than over coffee and brunch and we headed to Populus Coffee and Food Co. at Neil Road. The sister of Department of Caffeine is pretty new to the cafe scene but they are already drawing a crowd (do make a reservation to avoid the wait). 
Coffee is actually a focus here and they even have 3 different blends of espresso- Monolith (comforting and reassuring), Caldera (upligting and refreshing), and Duxton Vice (cheeky and adventurous). It's obvious which i chose! No doubt which i am. Coffee is priced from $4.50. Filter coffee of African origins are available too. My iced mocha was more milky than anything and i couldn't taste the coffee even though the chocolate wasn't sweet. 
A brunch hit is the Populus Scrambled ($18) which features eggs with fresh herb melange, marinated feta, and streaky bacon on top of a toasted croissant. The eggs could have been more runny. These were a little more cooked than i like but at least it didn't soak the flaky and buttery croissant. The bacon could do with more browning though. It's a decent brunch option however.
Perfect sweet mornings would begin with the Baked Pistachio French Toast ($19). Well this is actually a candy crusted brioche bread pudding with red wine poached pears, lemon curd, yuzu mascarpone, pistachio crumb, thyme infused pure maple syrup and flowers. Loved the moist fruit chunks (probably apple and pear) in the soggy-ish brioche, complemented with cornflakes bits.
The Buckwheat Pancake ($20.50) in a skillet could be described as a thick pancake or a flat fluffy cake, which wasn't too dry but it wasn't moist either. It was just.. undecided? Likewise, I couldn't decide if i liked this or not. It was simply a canvas for that tangy berry fruit compote, passionfruit curd, and cornflake crumb. It also felt like they kept reusing the same ingredients in the Pistachio French Toast. In fact, we saw many common elements in our dishes. Share this. I imagine I'd get sick of it after a bit.

For something that contrasts with your other dishes, perhaps go with the Harissa Baked Eggs ($19) with sumac! The Moroccan heartiness with spicy harissa chicken sausage would certainly brighten your weekend.
For something more lunchy, go with the grain bowls which use a base of quinoa, Bulgar wheat and pearl barley, like the savory Pulled Pork Grain Bowl ($18). I thought it was a seemingly Asian dish with the pickled cabbage apple slaw and furikake though the preparation and ingredients used were more Mediterranean. 
Our surprise birthday desserts were the Dark Chocolate Sundae ($13) and the Earl Grey Chocolate Cake. I was surprised by the rich flavor of the chocolate ice cream even though it had a very light texture. It's a return of the common ingredients of curd, berries puree, cornflakes, yada yada yada which got really old by the end of the meal. The cake sponge in the mix was meh at best.
Give me something no frills like the Earl Grey Chocolate slice anytime. Loved the intense earl grey flavor and it had the dense brownie type of texture. 
The Populus Coffee & Food Co. certainly gives its neighbor, The Lokal, a run for their money. Well more options for us i guess. I think i prefer this. 

The Populus Coffee & Food Co.
146 Neil Rd Singapore 088875
Daily 10am - 7pm 
I had a hard time trying getting my head around the Contemporary Asian label on Meta, a new stylish restaurant that has opened along the vibrant Keong Saik Road. The background of Chef Sun Kim gave an inkling to the cuisine direction- this good looker hails from a family of South Korean restaurateurs and is also the alumnus of Tetsuya Sydney and Waku Ghin Singapore. I reckoned it would be Asian inspired dishes and flavors with modern techniques and presentation but all that mattered when we embarked on the dinner was 'what's next'. 
Credits: Shaun Tan
The approach of Meta(morphosis) is to change and evolve, according to the seasons, trends, and most probably the chef's mood. ;)
Credits: Shaun Tan
At present, the restaurant offers a choice of three set dinner menus, namely five ($88) and eight-course ($128) Tasting Menus and a five-course Vegetarian Menu ($80). Here we have the eight-course Winter menu.
Amuse bouche of grilled asparagus with puffed quinoa and a sweet miso; rice cracker with garlic aioli and shaved squid. Interesting play on textures and flavors. That asparagus would certainly feature well on any tapas menu.
The current appetizer is the Oyster with Pomelo, a plump Irish oyster seasoned with tangy lemon and ginger dressing, and finished with a sprinkle of pomelo flesh for bursts of sweetness. 
The Amaebi (Japanese sweet shrimp) dish was served with a dashi jelly, trout roe, slivers of pickled beetroot stems and carrot, as well as a smokey charred prawn head. The prawn head was the highlight of the dish though and everything else was what you'd expect of a sashimi dish. As much as the prawn head is super umami, i really do not recommend swallowing the whole thing unless you're ok with shards. 
Another highlight was the Wagyu Tartare with Egg Jelly and Korean Pear Kimchi. One bite and you know you're having an elegant deconstructed bulgogi bimbimbap with a more refreshing pear kimchi (Sun's homemade kimchi dressing) instead of the regular acidic and tart pickled vegetables. The egg jelly helped to gel the elements together and a topping of puffed rice added crunch to it.  
Scallops are undoubtedly one of my favorite shellfish and these plump Hokkaido ones were paired with a slightly sweeter Korean miso, squid ink cracker and topped with compressed and shaved bottarga for more flavors of the sea. Someone give me more of the cauliflower purée please! Though the separate ingredients were executed well, I felt that on the whole they didn't really come together as a dish and thus it was forgettable. 
Our favorite dish was certainly the comforting John Dory/Sea Bass with Clams, Fregola and Basil which sees the pan-fried fillet of white fish (that crunchy skin side) presented atop a trio of clams in a clear clam broth (gosh that sweet brine) and finished with drops of basil oil. 
Slow Cooked Tasmanian Grass-Fed Beef Short Rib with Parsnip was given the Asian touch with pickled oyster mushrooms, charred spring onions and parsnip puree. The beef is cooked sous vide for over 30 hours at 62°C to break down the tendons and as such, it was kind of gelatinous. I prefer my meat with more grain actually and that is still possible with this technique. Flavor wise, it was on point. 

Vegetarians can look forward to Meta’s dedicated vegetarian menu which features a take on the popular street snack, the Korean Pancake with Seasonal Vegetables, and (purple) Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Corn and Parsnip.
For desserts, Pastry Chef Tammy Mah wowed us with her novel and innovative desserts. The classic cheese cake was given a twist with her Citrus Cheesecake with Blood Orange Bon Bon
A golden citrus gel encases the citrus cheese mousse and 2 dark chocolate hemisphere that held a blood orange liquid center. The creaminess melted away to reveal the light bitter crunch, which cracked to contrast the intense and fragrant blood orange jam. 
The White Chocolate Wasabi Cream with Sesame Sponge and Yoghurt sounded scarier than it tasted. You would hardly notice the wasabi if you didn't know it beforehand. It provided some  tingliness after each mouth, which was enhanced by the crackly pops. 
A fun 'petit four' was The Rock, a smoking espresso meringue made on the spot using nitrogen. Smokin hot.
A list of cocktail concoctions are available at Meta but I wouldn't say it's their strong suit (that or I really dislike overly sweet drinks). 
Credits: John Heng
Meta as a Contemporary Asian restaurant brings to the table hints of Japanese and Korean flavors on their modern plates. Certainly the next hit on the Singapore food scene. 

9 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089117
Mon - Sat: 5.30pm – 12.00am
Hotels in Orchard Road are known to be on the pricy side with their 4-5 stars and prime location. For the young and savvy travelers who are looking to be in the midst of all the action, Hotel Jen is actually a pretty good option. I recently checked out the transformed Traders Hotel, now known as Hotel Jen Tanglin, and stayed in their Club Room with all day Club access. 
I absolutely dig the new contemporary look and feel of the hotel. It's bright and cheery, with thoughtful touches such as: free WiFi, USB charger outlets, high pressure walk-in showers, and king-sized floating beds with 300-thread count linen. My room also had the perfect view of the pool and the surrounding greenery.  
I'm always a snack away from the Club Lounge, which is conveniently located a few doors away from our room on the 17th floor. 
It has a great view to boot as well. Perfect for lounging or catching up on some work over coffee.
One could enjoy a smaller selection of breakfast items (or head to the buffet breakfast at J65); all day snacks and drinks, evening cocktails with canapés, and even supper if you wish (we had some post drinks cup noodles at 1am)!
The breakfast spread.
Evening cocktails hour with cocktails, wine, cheese, and hot canapés. It is possible to fill yourself up if you wish!   
We checked out the Sunday Champagne Brunch at J65 separately. At $128 nett, it's one of the most affordable champagne brunch serving free flow of Perrier-Jouët champagne, beers, wines, juices and drinks. Well even if not for the food, the champagne alone would be worth the tag. 
The food selection is quite small, with only 1 live station that does Asian noodles. What I enjoyed was the selection of healthy and tasty salads and greens (great for vegetarians), decent selection of cold seafood, and a variety of meats and cold cuts. Skip desserts and stick with the bubbly as the calories are better spent on the latter. 
Or if you must, pop over to Jen’s Kitchen On-the-Go – the lobby café and snack bar which offers locally roasted coffee and sweet concoctions like this Cake Shake that I had as a birthday cake.
What I also love about Hotel Jen Tanglin is its location. Botanical Gardens is the highlight for me. A run to and around the lush park, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, will clock you 6km. Can't ask for a better way to stay active on your travels! The 24h gym, though small-ish, is sufficiently equipped for your strength and conditioning training. A 30m long outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam and treatments rooms and pool bar are available on site as well.
If you are looking for some interesting spots/experiences in the city, check out the Heart Map, an interactive crowdsourced map that provides recommendations to any profile of international travelers. Otherwise, Orchard Road is a 10mins walk/ quick shuttle ride away. 
Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore is currently having an introductory offer of S$299/night per night until February 2016, for their Club Room which includes all Club facilities. A ‘Stay up to date offer’ from S$165/night for the other rooms, includes buffet breakfast in the new J65 restaurant. Do also check out their current CNY promotion. 
1A Cuscaden Road Singapore 249716