Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Usher in SG50 at The Halia at The Singapore Botanic Gardens over gorgeous orchid-infused teas, cocktails, and desserts specially created for the grand occasion. Afternoon tea is certainly a leisurely activity i approve of, especially in the lovely environs of our national park. 
I'd recommend you getting started on some light bites and the soothing Orchid teas created by 1872 Clipper Tea Co. There are 3 blends currently available, the White, Red, and Gold Orchid Tea, each using a different tea base with varying strengths. 
The Orchid White is the most delicate mix of green and white tea; the Orchid Red will awaken you with the strong Rooibos and Pekoe; while the Orchid Gold is a zesty mix which showcases the notes of cream and blueberries perfectly (80g, $28).
Of course, light bites are mandatory. The Broken baguette bruschetta ($10) provides the perfect crunch with its crisp and airy texture. Rub some of that garlic confit onto it for that savory pungent flavor, dunk it into some chilled tangy tomato compote for that explosion of flavors. 
Something more sinful is the Chili Crab dip ($15), a Halia signature. We couldn't get enough of the lightly spiced chili sauce with convenient chunks of crab meat. 
Now that your stomach is lined, it's time to cool that heat with some Orchid Tea infused mocktails/cocktails. Check out the Singapore Jubilee ($10), a refreshing Vietnamese honey homemade lemonade which has this amazing vanilla and blueberries perfume.
We were thrown back to 1965 ($25), with this cool Hendrick's Gin base, modern day Long Island Tea. This is the perfect afternoon tipple in my opinion.
Something sweeter would be the Yam Seng ($23), a Sailor Jerry spiced rum with Orchid Red tea, lemon juice and grenadine.
What's an afternoon tea without desserts. Be refreshed with the Ginger & Gold Orchid Tea Granita ($12), an mild black tea ice kachang with an acidic yuzu gel, lychee fruit and tea jelly. 
Skip the White Orchid tea and lapis ($14). The layered cake we had was terribly soggy and bland (of course i ate it without the ice cream to be certain). Stronger flavors are definitely required here as we couldn't taste the tea in the ice cream. Also the textures of banana, especially the dehydrated one, was strange (it was kinda stale).
The Orchid Tea Gift Set, 30g x 3, ($42) are the perfect gifts for friends back home and i'd recommend you get them from the Botanic Gardens Shop. If you do not fancy the food items created for SG50, i can assure you that the regular Halia Afternoon Tea set is amazing (read about it here). The items do change with the season but i have faith in the team. Can't wait to be back for tea soon. I'm severely missing their scones. 
1 Cluny Road Singapore 259569
Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Afternoon Tea: 3 -  5pm (Weekends & Public Holidays)
Tel: +65 8444 1148
Pretty sure we all know Spizza, the casual Italian pizzeria by The Senso Group which serves freshly made thin crust pizzas and pastas. The latest addition at food haven Capitol Piazza is Spizza Mercato, a new concept with a gourmet retail section and a dedicated takeaway counter to provide for busy executives.
The retail market concept isn't new in Singapore but Spizza makes it easier for working professionals to get their quick lunch fix/ grocery shopping done with the selection of easy-to-grab food items e.g. 6" mini pizzas and panini sandwiches and packed meals; all of which are available for takeaway or can be pre-ordered via Spizza’s mobile application or website and then self-collected. 

An antipasto that i'll definitely order is the Burratina ($22) which features the milky and creamy cheese flown in from Italy, Parma ham and a side of rucola salad.
Of the countless times i've been to Hong Kong, i've only tried Mak's Noodle during my latest trip. It seems timely enough as Mak's Noodle is opening in Singapore, right smack in Orchard Road at The Centrepoint. The restaurant was supposed to open 29 Jun 2015 but it seems like they cannot make up their mind on their actual opening date. The 'not-so-grand' Grand Opening is scheduled for media preview on 7 Jul 2015, that is if they open, for real.
Since i can't make it for the media preview grand opening, i might as well share with you my experience at the Hong Kong Central outlet, which is where Cantonese Grand Wanton Master Mak Woon-Chi's son, Mak An works at (there are several outlets around HK). 
First thing first, the serving size is damn blardee small (it's a Chinese porcelain bowl size) even for this skinnyfat girl. Good news is that it fits perfectly into any packed HK food itinerary because you get to save some tummy space. The portions are small because wanton was originally a snack in Canton, and not a main dish. I'm not sure how that is going to work out here in Singapore since we are pretty used to having wanton mee as a main meal. I wouldn't mind that thought but that's just me. 
Well, the most famous dish at Mak's is their Wanton noodles, which features thin springy and crunchy noodles in a clear powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones soup. While i enjoyed the texture, i did not like the overly alkaline taste of the noodles and that affected the taste of the broth as well. 

The wantons were pretty tiny too. In comparison to the Crystal Jade Kitchen, or Noodle Place at 313 Somerset in Singapore, i thought our local outlets fare better in terms of the plumpness of the prawns. SURPRISE! So so so.. Mak's Noodle HK is pretty much hyped up, probably by people who have not had better shrimp wantons. That said, i thought their shrimp dumplings were quite delish when i gave Mak's a second shot at their Jordon Parkes Street outlet. The dumplings were more satisfying with the pork, black fungus, and shrimp mix. Also, they were not tainted by the bitter alkaline aftertaste from the noodles. 
I'll be sure to give Mak's Noodle in Singapore a taste soon, just to see how it compares to the Hong Kong outlets. Fingers crossed on the queue though! 

Mak’s Noodle 麥奀雲吞麵世家
#01-63/64 The Centrepoint
176 Orchard Road Singapore 238843 

G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong (Central MRT exit D2)
Daily: 11am – 9pm
In a feeble attempt to try to keep up with the Singapore cafe scene, i headed back to the Jalan Besar enclave, a now established spot for coffee and all day breakfasts. Competition is insane with players like CSHH (heard their food is in the s* now), The Bravery (still don't get why it's crowded), and AEIOU for the savories mostly; and Windowsill and Antoinette for sweets (you can forget about Tiramisu Hero). Adding to the mix is Two Bakers, an 8 mth old artisanal dessert cafe overseen by 2 Le Cordon Bleu Paris trained chefs.  
We popped by after brunch at AEIOU and regretted immediately as we found out Two Bakers has quite a good selection of savories (we thought they only do desserts). Daily brunch is available till 3pm, with options of eggs, burgers and pastas for under $15.
Let's just get down to the food at London Fat Duck shall we? I don't think there's a  need to go on at length about who brought this in, or how it compares with Four Seasons (the answer is clear, the Bayswater one in London wasn't even good), or that LFD is not even from London, or any of those details that distract us from the food. 
About LFD's Signature Roast Duck ($48.80 for whole, $26 for half, $12.80 for regular). Wagyu of Duck they are named because these Irish ducks are treated like the black cows in Japan. Do not expect the same marbling, though they do have a very thick layer of fats between their meat and skin. The skin was delightfully crisp the first time i had it but there seems to be a lack of consistency in the standard during my repeat visit. What didn't make me too happy was also the lack of meat. There're simply too much fats and bones going on. Next time i'm just gonna order a drumstick each instead of a half or whole duck. 
The Char Siew ($14.80) and Pork Belly ($13.80 for 9 cubes) were quite decent in fact. Expect meaty char siew with a nice caramelized exterior and a thin but crispy crackling on the latter. Our grubs? The portions are pathetic.
Perhaps LFD is rationing their meat, because all i got was skin, fat, and sauce in their highly raved about Black Pepper Duck Bun and Snow Buns ($4.80 for 3).
The buttery bolo milk-sugar crust buns were really good (though oily) and i could have them on their own but seriously the lack of filling hurts my feelings. #HANGRY I'd skip the black pepper one in fact as the sauce tastes like those Lee Kum Kee bottled sauces (so artificial). Snow buns were better with the char siew sauce but again, where is the meat!
Maybe the Golden Custard Bun would be perfect considering there's no meat involved but i haven't been lucky in my visits (they were always sold out).
There are things that i'd go back to London Fat Duck for, and that is their London Duck Dumpling ($12.80) which is made in limited quantity (only 40 pcs a day), and the Signature Steamed Chee Cheong Fun ($5.80). The glutinous rice was simply divine even though there wasn't much duck meat (AGAIN).
We were surprised by the crunchy fried prawn roll which was wrapped in the steamed rice sheets (amazing) as we thought it was like the usual plain old fried dough sticks. The other prawn dimsum items were pretty good too.
LFD is great for a quick and affordable Chinese meal, provided you don't have to queue for it. It kinda reminds me of Crystal Jade when they first started. The crunchy thin Hong Kong egg noodles make for a simple but satisfying one dish meal (as long as you don't order the high blood pressure inducing Minced Pork Dry Noodles). Roast duck or BBQ pork are great options ($7.80 per plate).
Skip desserts. The egg tarts ($4.30), though wobbly, had crusts that were too dry and bland. 
Overall, hits and misses but there are dishes worth going back to London Fat Duck for. As for the Wagyu Duck.. well, let's just say that it's a gimmick. 
London Fat Duck
6 Scotts Road #B1-16/17 Scotts Square Singapore 228209 (Orchard MRT)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon-Fri), 10am – 10pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
I've got lobsters on my mind and my craving sent us over to The Naked Finn for one of their really affordable lobster rolls. I've attempted to have one of these some time back but alas they only serve this for lunch (we ended up trying those at The Market Grill instead), just like their other signature Hae Mee Tng with wild-caught prawns and Berkshire Kurobuta pork belly.

You will never go hungry at Point Yamu by COMO (read the full review here) even though it's located at the far end of the island. Oh trust me it's not worth the 1h trip from here to Patong for anything. You're better off relaxed and feasting in probably the best Thai and Italian restaurant in Phuket, Nahmyaa and the La Sirena at Point Yamu, with the best sunset view to boot. 

It's hard to convince me to travel anywhere out of the way to a restaurant these days unless there's promise of good food. The stars aligned and I was in the far flung end of Singapore and thus I checked off the unique Aussie-Jap/Asian dishes at Paddy Hills off my list. 

This highly instagrammable cafe is located on 38 South Buona Vista Road near the bendy roads leading to NUS. Inaccessible it is, you really need a ride over to this spot. No matter how long you take, you can still get your breakfast since that's served till 5.30pm. The hot IG dish is the Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($19) which is a giant flat cake (not quite pancake) with a splash of colors from the berries, mascarpone and pinenuts.
Well well, why would we be eating what everyone else is having right? Given more tummy space, i wouldn't have minded the Orange ricotta pillows, which are fluffy pancakes with citrus salad, coconut ice cream and crush pistachios. Now that's something more interesting.
I was intrigued by the Asian Brick ($18), which sells itself as 'a thick decadent brulee brioche french toast with goreng pisang, butternut squash puree, purple sweet potato, yam ice cream, marcona almonds and a gula melaka sauce'. I was surprised and delighted by the alternative presentation of this dish. Instead of a huge piece of french toast, the brioche came in the form of fried doughnuts balls with a milky center. Oily it was (a little) and Paddy Hills could certainly provide more brown sugar sauce to go with it. The plate was a song of contrasting but complementary textures and flavors- salty sweet pumpkin puree, gingery herb, rich yam ice cream, lightly battered sweet banana, sticky yam and dense  sweet potato. Asian it was certainly and like our Asian desserts, it was carb heavy and the oiliness kinda got to us halfway through.
The Golden Man Tou Sliders ($23) was also quite a popular one with 3 beef sliders with 3 cheeses sandwiched between fried chinese buns, served with sweet potato crisps, homemade bbq sauce, and pickled shallots and cherries. The cheesy patties were good without any added sauce but you could always add a dash of tangy and peppery sauce for taste. It's a first seeing the purple sweet potatoes presented as crisps instead of fries but this, together with the fried and dense buns, was again oily and overwhelming. A refreshing slaw would do this dish some good. 
We were mildly impressed with the food but certainly won over by the coffee. The Slayer extracts the essence of the roasted beans by Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee, and the Hand brew bar gives the coffee connoisseur an alternative tasting of the beans. 
2 house blends of espresso are available. 99-1 is a full bodied one with dark chocolate and caramel, while SPARK is a sweet blackcurrent one. Espresso based milk coffees are priced from $5.50 onwards. I decided on desserts and had the Affogato ($6.50). Medium acidity in this shot but it was balanced by the smooth vanilla bean ice cream. The seemingly boring dessert was enhanced with a hint of salt in the smokey caramel marcona almonds and that made all the difference.  
Selected single origin beans from Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Brazil, and Indonesia are available using the V60 and aeropress method. 
The Musasa Hand Brew ($6) from Rawanda tasted of citrus, with hints of raspberries and chocolate. The flavors really pop with the cleaner brew methods. Prices from $5 onwards and is based on market rates.
The cakes looked a bit too familiar to me, like those at Old Hen Brew Bar, Assembly Grounds and the likes and i know for sure to leave them alone (they are terribly dry and sweet). Someone ought to tell their supplier to tweak their recipe.

Paddy Hills is a good cafe in the sense that it provides cafe goers with an alternative to the usual brunch food. The flavors are spot on but they do need to cut down on the oil. Currently, it's just not great enough to warrant repeat visits due to the ulu location. 

Paddy Hills
38 South Buona Vista Road
Singapore 118164
Daily: 8.30am - 10pm
Of the hoods in New York City, my top favorites would be East and West Village and Brooklyn! Since i've spent a considerable amount of time in Manhattan, i thought i'd dedicate this post to the awesome capital of hippie that is Brooklyn (and in particularly Williamsburg)! It took a fair bit of eating and running/yoga-ing/spinning to work it off so i hope you guys enjoy it!

Let's start with the conventional brunch food and then move on from there. Obviously the hippies in Brooklyn aren't gonna stick much to the mainstream.

Five Leaves is still a personal favorite after all that brunching i did in the Big Apple. The Big Breakkie ($13) will satisfy any egg, bacon or hash brown craving and the Ricotta Pancakes ($13) were the most amazing disks of fluffy goodness- They had us at honeycomb butter! 
18 Bedford Avenue. Daily: 8am - 1am

Down the rabbithole i'll gladly go, for the Stuffed French Toast with strawberries mascarpone at Rabbithole. I loved that airy home made brioche which was paired with a fragrant and light cheese. The same can't be said of the Rabbithole Florentine which had a rather overpowering caramelized onion taste (though S thought it was fine). I did regret not having their signature Eggs Benedict when we were hit by the delicious smell of bacon came wafting through the crisp air from the nearby table.
352 Bedford Ave Brooklyn. Daily Breakfast: 9am till 5pm
606 R&D
Doughnuts and coffee are quite the standard American breakfast even though i'm not a huge fan. Oh but well, we gotta pay respect to traditions right? 606 RD serves freshly made dough throughout the day alongside their grilled pimento cheese sandwich with crispy bacon (another American favorite), three onion buttermilk bread with salted caramel butter (holy moly)!
606 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights

You would miss this plain looking cafe from the outside. Well that's what happened to me, many times in fact. Until i was enlightened by YELP. ;) Breakfast in a garden under a tree (with AC) aye? You've come to the right place! Other than the quaint space, you can bite into the most amazing Japanese influenced home baked croissants which are buttery and crisp, with a lovely pull inside. Go for the Organic Egg Scramble Sandwich ($4.50) which pairs a creamy Parmesan thyme scrambled egg with the lovely pastry. 

I'll also recommend the Organic Apple Soy Shake ($6), made with home made organic apple vinegar, soymilk, cinnamon and pickled apple. For a heartier option, the Sashimi Zuke Don ($15) is a hit with the umami soy sauce marinated sashimi, avocado and sweet mushrooms over sushi rice. Bring cash! If not there's an ATM inside. 
77 N 6th St, Brooklyn. Daily: 8/10am till 5pm

The answer to Jack's Wife Freda (possibly my favorite brunch spot in Manhattan). This highly acclaimed Greenpoint spot is a hike from the G train, but destination dining in an old glass factory? That's quite worth the trip no? The cardamom sugar bun and labneh (creamy yogurt cheese) bring your legs back to life. If not, have a go at the lamb pies or Shakshuka.
95 Commercial Street, Greenpoint

After an early morning run up and down, to and from the Williamsburg bridge, the best way to recharge is to head to Egg for their Southern-accented breakfast (and breakfast only). What's popular here is their Organic Grits (with cheese if you please) ($5) made using stone-ground grits from South Carolina's Anson Mills. It's the first time i had grits and it was kinda bland for me. Their buttermilk biscuits were also tad too dry for me (i still prefer the biscuits from Clinton Street Bakery). Eggs Rothko is another favorite (essentially a toad-in-the-hole with sharp cheddar) here. Go early before it gets packed  (hence the morning run). 
109 N 3rd St, Brooklyn. Daily: 7/8am till 5pm
Go BIG or you go home. If BIG is your thang then Pies and Thighs is a must. They have earned their badge(s) for the best fried chicken, best biscuits, best doughnuts, best apple pie... You can't go wrong with their Chicken Biscuit ($7.50) which is a hot sauce-honey butter coated fried chicken cutlet buttermilk sandwich. Pair it with the Fish & Grits ($12), a side of creamy Mac & Cheese ($5) and then end it off with their Banana Cream Pie ($5.50) or any of the other sweet pies/doughnuts. The guilt is worth it.
166 S 4th St, Brooklyn. Daily: 9/10am - 12am.

Along the same line, Brooklyn Star does a weekend brunch of Fried Pork Chop, Fried Eggs, and White Grits. Do not miss their good ol' chicken and waffles.
593 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn. Weekend brunch: 12 - 4pm.

Sweet Chick
For the Manhattanites who want a Southern Breakfast experience that is well.. tamer than Pies and Thighs, then Sweet Chick is for you. Here you get your organic poultry deep fried and served on flavored Belgian-style waffles. Pick from the following flavors of bacon and cheddar, rosemary, and mushroom. More greens are available alongside your roasted pork tenderloin and dry-aged rib eye meal. , and humble sides such as mustard greens, pickled watermelon rind and homemade buttermilk biscuits.
164 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn. Daily: 11am till 12/2am 

This is my favorite bagel spot in Williamsburg. I went dizzy with the overwhelming selection of bagels, cragles (a croissant-bagel), home made spreads of creative cream cheeses, tofu, and crutter (cream cheese with butter)! Don't know what to get? Well, you can't go wrong with the Bacon, egg and cheese bagel with bacon, egg and cheese. GET OUTTA HERE! Or how about a sweet french toast bagel people? I made my special of kale olive cragel with bacon and cheddar cream cheese and it was too dang good, plus they were really generous with the amount of spread they slap on. Part of the menu is here and it doesn't even list the whole range of flavored bagels and cragels. Start planning now. Or you'll never get to eat. 
349 Bedford Ave or 754 Metropolitan Ave. Daily: 6am till 10pm.
Head here for the dense and chewy NYC style bagels. The selection of cream cheeses and bagels isn't as wide as the Bagel store's but the quality is good enough. I wasn't too happy with the amount of cream cheese I got on mine, also, their cheese spread is kinda runny and i'd prefer something a little richer.
189 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn. 24h.

THE INTERNATIONAL (COFFEE)- i feel like i gotta sneak this in. #caffeineaddict

Of course, bagels have to go with coffee! a couple of places that i'd recommend in Williamsburg would be Brooklyn Roasting CompanyBlue BottleBlack Brick, and Oslo Coffee Roasters
TIP: Grab a double chocolate sea salt cookie from Blue Bottle while you are there. It's amazeballs! 

Cold pressed juices is all the rage these days, be it in NYC or Singapore. Head to Mr Pinas for their value for money cold pressed juices! It's $3 for a small and $4 for a large cup. Pick any ingredient that you fancy and they will mix it up for you. What's more, they give you every bit of the juice that you create so you actually get about 1.5 cups of juice. I had this every day on the way back from yoga class, with bagel in hand, or on the way out to Manhattan! It's super convenient because it's right by Marcy Ave subway.
221 Havemeyer St

This not the most inventive brunch you can get in Brooklyn but it's old school. And it has a mix of everything from the definitive Rye Benedict ($12) with grilled pork belly on a buttermilk biscuit to a runny Scotch Eggs. Me? I'd share the mega huge Meatloaf sandwich ($16) which is piled with salty fried onions and a BBQ sauce. For sweets, go for the Challah French Toast or homemade Cake Doughnuts.
247 S. 1st St., Brooklyn. Weekend Brunch from 11am.
One cannot miss Smorgasburg! Where else can you find everything New Yorkish in a spot? Expect long queues for lobster rolls, ramen burgers, tacos and more. The shrimp tacos were the bombdiggity. 
Sat: East River State Park
Sun: Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5
Tell me if there's a reason to stay in Manhattan now that all the awesome stuff is in Williamsburg? #foodismylife
So go forth and spread the love. It's the Brooklyn way! Also, share with us what is your favorite brunch food/spot in Brooklyn.