Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

When questioned on what is Singapore heritage food, most would think Peranakan but it's only a subset of it. Chef Damian D’Silva of Folklore will tell you that Singapore heritage food is a cuisine that represents the various ethnic groups in Singapore. It consists of the age-old recipes passed down from generation to generation; food that we eat at home; the my-grandmother-cooked-it-better dishes that are special to each family; the lost recipes that are not found in restaurants because they are too labor intensive to make. Because of one man's dedication to documenting his family's secret recipes, we now have Folklore
This man is passionate, some say crazy, to commercialize this sort of artisanal home cooking. Painstaking labor and long hours go into coaxing the flavors out of the handpicked ingredients. For the prices that he charges, I'm not sure if it makes any profit sense. 
Let's bring on the rendang, chap chye, hae zor, assam fish and more! 
We started with some cold appetizers. A spicy refreshing start came in the form of a Four Angled Bean Salad ($12). Green mangos, chilies, ginger flower and dried shrimps tossed in a sweet sour sambal belachan sauce. It can be very spicy!
Nose-to-tail eating doesn't seem to have taken off in the majority Chinese populated Singapore. I find it strange because we Chinese are (supposedly) familiar with offals and innards (hello kway chup), so much that we even eat that for breakfast (sometimes). It thoroughly surprises and bewilders us that a gorgeous Spanish restaurant like Dehesa isn't packed every night (like Esquina). Perhaps they have gone overboard with their marketing of their "inner" beauty? 
For those who are intimidated by the alternative cuts and random parts, your fears are unfounded. Chef-Owner Jean-Philippe Patruno aka JP, previously of Bomba Paella Bar and Una, fires up more than just the grey matter. Classic Spanish dishes are available here and he's more than adept at delivering them. 
I let my weakness for Croquetas (4 pcs, $14) take over and swooned in bliss as I bit into the creamy filling encased in the crunchy panko crust. This is one smooth morsel! Make sure you give it a good chew together with the spiced paprika aioli and jamón joselito. I struggled with my need to finish this and saving space for my main meal. 

That should ease you into starters. If you don't go into the nitty gritty, the Dehesa platter of cold meats ($32), is what you would likely order at any other restaurant- a rotating homemade charcuterie consisting pate, lardo, deep-fried pork scratchings. We all know where the ingredients are from, we don't need to be told/reminded, other than how good they taste. 
Well if that doesn't go down well, take a few bites of the smoky Pimientos De Padron ($14). They will sure cleanse the palate of any gamey leftovers. 
If you're not for the cold platters, have the Chorizo ($24) which is served with soft cooked eggs and a smoked mash, and pork crackling! This comfort food combination never fails. If only I could find some bread to go with this.
Cuppage Plaza is known for the small Japanese restaurants that cater to the discerning palates of the Japanese community in Singapore. As seedy as it may be, with Thai and Vietnamese call girls loitering on the corridors, once you step into the individual restaurants, you'd think that you're in Japan. That's exactly my thoughts after stepping into the super discreet (no sign board) and high security (you need to buzz the intercom before you're allowed in) Kappo Shunsui.
Those familiar to the Tokyo food scene may have heard of Shunsui, which was named in Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list for three consecutive years between 2015 and 2017. And now, the man behind the same restaurant, Chef Tomo Watanabe, has set up shop here in Singapore.

Kappo Shunsui serves a Kappo-style cuisine which is all about creating balance throughout the course  of a meal by the use of five primary cooking techniques: grilling, steaming, frying, simmering and raw preparation. From behind the counter, Chef Watanabe prepares and cooks for the lucky 19 who get a taste of the ever changing seasonal menu made with produce delivered from Tsukiji Market thrice weekly and other imported Japanese ingredients.
A qualified kikisake-shi (sake sommelier), Chef Watanabe has also curated an impressive list of close to 100 labels of sake, including bottles not listed on the menu, from his private collection. These are available by the glass and bottle (From $12/63 respectively). Sake pairing for the omakase is also available ($55/85 for 6 glasses of 60ml).
You know a restaurant/cafe has found its way to my heart when 1. I tell my friends to go there 2. I visit it again, within a reasonable time frame (too many restaurants to go to) 3. It stays on my goldfish mind for a bit. So yes Shukuu Izakaya checks all 3 boxes. Plus, it's within walking distance from my yoga studio so it's perfect for that protein fix after working out heh. 
This casual bar and bites eatery on Stanley Street serves Japanese small plates to go with a plethora of alcohol. Our choice of poison? Sake of course. Plus the boys at Shukuu Izakaya are certified sommeliers and can provide sake pairing options with the bites you pick. The sakes, and the produce served, are carefully sourced from Japan, delivering the most authentic Japanese dining experience right in the heart of CBD.  
Smaller snacks to prep our tummies for all the drinks to come. The Kawa Ebi-Age ($7), are crunchy and salty morsels that make a good snack. If you are into offal, the marinated chicken liver in soy sauce Reba Shoyuzuke ($6), wouldn't be a bad option. My gf who orders this quite often said it's pretty good. I enjoyed the tartness of the Gyu Ponzu ($7) but not the dry meat. 
For something meaty, i'd say go for the Pork Jowl Charshu ($18), a buttery slow-cooked Iberico Pork which is perfectly comforting. I'd say skip the dry and tough Yaki Gyu Tan ($14).
Another weekend, another staycation. This time in my eventual hood- Marine Parade/Katong! For all those poor souls living in other parts of Singapore, this is an opportunity to experience what the East has to offer you. (I've a giveaway at the end of post so read on!) I've always known that Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy is right smack in the middle of the rich Peranakan area in East Coast, but what I didn't know was that it's a gem hidden in plain sight. 
Location wise, Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy is less than 15 mins away from the city, the beach, and the airport. Try beating that really! There's certainly no lack of food, shopping, and entertainment options (only lack of stomach space), with malls (Parkway Parade and i12 Katong are just next door), local food, and East Coast Park at your doorstep.
While room space is a luxury in Singapore, the rooms at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy boasts of a spacious 32sqm or more. The rooms are equipped with the usual services like IDD service, Cable TV, ironing board, minibar, safe deposit, complimentary coffee and tea making facilities, hairdryer, over-mattress and bathroom amenities with bathrobe and slippers.
Our super huge bathroom with tub and all!  
Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy got you covered with their full range of bath amenities.  
Staying in the executive room or suite also entitles you to complimentary WiFi, breakfast, and exclusive access to the Executive Lounge on level 17.  
All day refreshments and evening cocktails with canapés are provided at the lounge. It's a nice spot to enjoy the sea view! Well, get a few drinks and save space for a more substantial meal in the neighborhood.
If you're too lazy to head out, you should check out Breez Bistro Bar which is right by the pool on level 4. Yes it is indeed breezy in this fairly open restaurant and we were pleasantly surprised by the standard of the food. A selection of drinks are also available
This creamy and hearty mushroom soup was one of the better ones i've tasted (for real). It definitely didn't come out of a can! Plus that touch of tempura enoki for an added crisp. 
I also enjoyed the huge slab of salmon fillet that was perfectly cooked, pink in the center and crispy all around. We hear the burgers and steaks are pretty satisfying too! 
We had a special dessert brought up from the Wave Cafe located on level 1. This Salted Caramel cake was another lovely surprise with a espresso mousse hiding a crunchy salted caramel core. We polished this in no time.
Of course I had to squeeze in a session between all that eating. Thankfully the well equipped gym is open 24h. 
Executive guests are treated to breakfast at the lounge, or at the Feast@East buffet restaurant. I decided to stick to the simple but adequate breakfast selection upstairs, since it meant a more peaceful dining experience (plus that view)! 
Still peckish? Well remember that you are in the Food Mecca of Singapore! Katong Laksa; Peranakan kuehs and more at Glory or Kim Choo; local breakfast at Chin Mei Chin Confectionery; Beach Road Prawn Noodles; Ampang Yong Tau Foo; all that hawker food at Marine Parade or Marine Terrace Hawker Center... Plus all the hip cafes all within your reach- Dutch Colony, Stamping Ground, Group Therapy, Domain Bakery etc. We had a hard time deciding where to eat at, despite being Easties ourselves.

Business Travelers will be happy to know that there is also complimentary daily shuttle services to and from Singapore Changi Airport, and a shuttle service to Orchard Road!

Well here is another incentive to check out Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy! I'm giving away a 2D1N Studio Suite Weekend Stay with Buffet Breakfast and Executive lounge access for 2!

Giveaway Details:
1. Repost/Share the Instagram/FB post on Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy with hashtag #MSFxGMSR
2. Like/Follow and Tag @MsSkinnyfat and @GrandMercureSingaporeRoxy in the repost
3. Also tag someone you want to go on this staycation with! Of course tell us why you wanna win this stay! :) 

Giveaway ends midnight 28 Aug 2016! Winner will be contacted separately!

Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy
50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square, Singapore 428769
Telephone: +65 6340 5809
I love back alley finds and Maggie Joan's join the ranks of awesome small plates restaurants in Singapore. The new restaurant by Daniel and Glen Ballis, the people behind Moosehead, focuses on the vibrant Mediterranean cuisine from their backstreet 'tavern'. No seriously, Maggie Joan's main entrance is from the back alley of Amoy Street
The windowless interior features an underground industrial décor with unique picks from junkyards. A contrasting homey semi private area for cozy gatherings. 
Staying true to their Mediterranean roots, Maggie Joan's features familiar flavors in refined modern interpretations. Fresh seasonal produce is used and that only means vibrant flavors and a changing menu (more reasons to come back)!
Added to the decor mood board of my future home is Black & Ink, a cosy monochrome cafe with all my favorite elements- glossy tiles, marble tabletops, dark wood, and a light touch of color (preferably green or brown). 

The space is very tiny, meant for a quick cuppa and a slice before heading back to whatever you're supposed to be doing. I'm sure people wouldn't mind hanging around if the space were bigger. 
Coffee is pulled by Big Roy himself and served in the pretty Bodum Provina Double Wall Glass (which i'm tempted to get for myself). 
Beans are from a local micro-roastery and we had the house blend of Ethiopian Amaro Gayo and Columbian Excelso Timana. Medium bodied with a sweet berry acidity and dark chocolate finish. I always look out for the foam first and this was perfection. Single origins are also available in small quantities and sadly the Kenya Karogoto AB was sold out when we visited.
To accompany your coffee, there are light bites like tea cakes and savory muffins like Turkey Bacon Cheese Lava Egg and Chicken Meatball muffin ($4.50). Reminded me of the Pacific Marketplace's savory muffins. 
What you must certainly order is the Under The Table Cake, Big Roy's own creation. It's named such because it comes from the refrigerator under the table. Yeap. Banana mascaporne (with bits of banana) on a smooth milk chocolate center and a crunchy cookie base. This is more crumble than cake but tasty nonetheless. You cannot go wrong with banana and chocolate. Well, adding PB wouldn't hurt as well. Heh.
Black & Ink is kinda in the middle of nowhere but that's what specialty cafes are about ain't it? Well, they are also a social enterprise and will be working with people at risk, to help them get back and stay on track. Do pop by if you have a chance!

Black & Ink
168 Changi Rd S419730
Daily: 9am - 7pm
Closed Tues
Jing Hua, established in 1989, started from its humble beginnings at Qun Zhong Eating House, a restored shophouse at Neil Road. I did not know about this famous Xiao long bao and dumpling stall until they opened their third outlet at Palais Renaissance but I heard that the original outlet is super famous and there would be snaking queues especially at meal times. Well well town is more accessible for me and I found Jing Hua to be a good alternative to the crowded and noisy Din Tai Fung.

The Orchard outlet departs a little from the 小吃店 style of the other outlets. The ambience is certainly more posh and retro-chic (it reminded me of the mod 茶餐厅 decor of a particular Starbucks in HK). Premium beverages e.g. Pu'er tea, are offered here along with spirits. Pick from the Chinese Shao Hsing wine, Baijiu ,and Japanese whisky, and shochu. If you're thinking why Japanese drinks? Well fried dumplings are like gyoza and dumplings are great bar bites.
So let's start with my picks. Do not miss the Little Juicy Steamed Meat Dumplings (小笼汤包) ($5/4pcs, $8.80/8pcs). The first thing I noticed was the delicate skin. It was thin, smooth and slightly chewy. The texture resembled a thinly rolled out chinese kueh without the stickiness. The skin is made from a special recipe and used in most of their flour products. I cannot stop raving about that texture! The lightly marinated pork meat wasn't too minced (slightly coarser than din tai fung) and hence the sweetness of the pork does come through.  
If I were to grab a quick bite, I'd certainly go for the Boiled Mixed Seafood and Pork Dumplings (三鲜饺子) ($5/4pcs, $9/10pcs) or the Pan Fried Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings (三鲜锅贴) ($6.50/6pcs, $9.50/10pcs).
I can't decide which I prefer. The boiled ones were fat and juicy, and they make for a delicious and healthy snack. The fried ones maintained the juiciness of the fragrant meat filling and the bonus was the added crunch. What's great was the shell maintained that light chewiness on the interior. These little crispy poppers were quite irresistible.
The Noodles with Minced Pork & Soya Bean Sauce (炸酱面) ($6.80) didn't wow me. It wasn't the fault of the yummy noodles (made from the same dough), the downfall was the sauce. Perhaps I'm accustomed to the rich soy bean sauce that comes with the typical 炸酱面 so this was kinda bland for me. More sauce was needed to coat the noodles as well. I'll suggest you add some of that soy bean chili paste (it was good with the noodles and gyoza) to boost the flavors.
The problem with many dumpling stores is that the flavors get boring after a bit due to the usage of the same filling. Even though the seafood, minced pork, and chives paste was used in several items, including the Chinese Pizza (三鲜盒子) ($10.80), the differing textures arising from the methods of preparation made each dish different. That said, the chinese pizza didn't do so well as the puff pastry was a little thick and dry (think epok epok skin) and hence I left it mostly untouched. The meat to pastry ratio could also be worked on (too little meat, too much dough). 
The Sweet Osmanthus Flower Rice Ball Soup (桂花汤圆) ($4) was a lovely way to end our meal. I loved that fragrance of Osmanthus in the soup! The dish may look bland with the white mochi balls and clear soup but it was anything but simple. The glutinous rice balls were filled with peanuts, red bean paste, lotus and walnut paste, and black sesame. Most pastes were smooth (loved the lotus walnut) with the exception of the powdery sesame.
Crispy Red Bean Pancake (豆沙锅饼) ($10.50) was alright. Made from glutinous rice flour, the texture was slightly airy, with a keropok texture. The inner layer still maintained the mochi-like chewiness. I thought the texture of the pastry paired nicely with the slightly coarse red bean paste. 
I usually don't have steamed sweet buns for desserts but the Green Tea Red Bean Steamed Dumplings ( 绿茶豆沙小笼包) ($4.50/4pcs) sounded too enticing. Great skin again and the red bean paste was fine, smooth and a little more fluid than the regular baos. The green tea flavor could be enhanced though. 
In all, Jing Hua Restaurant is a great spot to grab a quick bite in town. It may be slightly off the Orchard Road belt but you would get away from the madness. I'll pick this over Din Tai Fung if i have a dumplings craving.

Jing Hua Restaurant
Original Chinatown Shophouse
21 Neil Road, Singapore 088814

Rochor Road
159 Rochor Road, Singapore 188434

Orchard Palais Renaissance
390 Orchard Road, B1-04/05 Singapore 238871 
Tel: +65

I love dimsum but the format of the meal is not very single or couple friendly- items come in threes and you can't maximise variety if you have a small stomach. #firstworldproblems Dimsum buffets also do not work well for us. Thankfully, i've found a solution! Tian Fu Tea Room by Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant offers a Dim Sum High Tea set that works perfectly for even the single diner.

From now till 31 Jan 2015, enjoy the Sparkling Imperial High Tea (梦幻宫廷下午茶) at Tian Fu Tea Room for $38.80/pax. This festive high tea menu marries the tea room’s reputed premium Chinese brews with exquisite handcrafted dim sum and desserts featuring luxurious bird’s nest from all-new bespoke bird’s nest brand Long Ming Xuan (龙明宣).
We started with a Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry NV, a delectable sparkling alongside a light floral tea. Bi Tan Piao Xue is a easy to drink green tea with a lingering jasmine fragrance. While i understood the pairing of tea with dimsum, i felt that the prosecco was a random throw in to market the tea as a festive product.
Each diner gets a single piece of each dimsum, which is perfect since you'll have space for more. Only downside is that you don't get more of your favorite. As the festive menu focuses on birds nest, the delicacy was in practically in all the dimsum. The goldfish looking steamed dumpling with minced chicken and birds nest had a skin that wasn't too cooked. For dimsum fillings, i believe that pork is always the way to go, which is why the following items were better.
Juicy pork filling in the Xiao Long Bao and Siew Mai. I liked the chunky meat texture in the siew mai and that the meat filling wasn't fatty at all. There was a lot of birds' nest in each dumpling and it added a light crunch to the texture.
Tie Guan Yin (oolong tea) was served next for the heavier dishes. The teas get stronger as the meal progresses. This Tie Guan Yin changed my opinion of this tea as i thought it to be usually very heavy and metallic. The one served at Tian Fu was light with a little woody taste.  Some fried goodness to break the monotony. This pan fried crab meat puff is like a gyoza with a crispy and thin filo skin. I liked this one because it was filled with a huge chunk of crab meat and you could taste the sweetness of the seafood.
Even though the dumplings look similar to each other, it's good to know that the meat fillings actually differ. The boiled minced meat dumpling with chinese cabbage had refreshing greens and some ginger in it. Cooked in a superior chicken stock, the dish was very comforting to the tummy. 
A staple is included in the tea set in case one gets too hungry. The Sichuan noodle with onion sauce had a superb texture. It's what the chinese would describe as 弹牙 and that's because the noodles, like all the other dumpling skin, are hand made. I thought the dish could do with a little more seasoning though. 
Rounding up the meal, we had a red tea by the name of Yunnan Dian Hong. This tea is supposed to rid the palate of all oily remnants of the previous dishes to prep us for the dessert.
I love love love the Boiled Pear with Bird's Nest. I would pick this over the sugary western poached pear dessert. Chinese pears have this refreshing and juicy quality that makes me want to take bite after bite. The double boiled method is also the best way to prep birds' nest imo.

What's coming to Si Chua Dou Hua without some homemade beancurd with wolfberries right? This is not included in the set but we couldn't resist a bowl of this freshly made beancurd with a light sugar syrup and sweet and plump wolfberries. No preservatives are used and the texture is amazingly silky and smooth. The kitchen makes this twice a day and the morning batch gets thrown out by noon so you can be guaranteed of fresh dessert any time you visit.

I loved the exquisite teas and beautifully crafted dim sum at Tian Fu Tea Room. Although the dimsum may not be as traditional as those you get at dim sum restaurants, it's perfect for a chi-chi afternoon tea by yourself or with your mother, aunts and grandmother. Trust me, they'll love it. 

Tian Fu Tea Room is adjoined to each of the Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurants in Singapore.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591
Tel: +65 6428 3170

PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road
181 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

TOP of UOB Plaza
80 Raffles Place #60-01, UOB Plaza 1, Singapore 048624
Tel: +65 6535 6006

Daily: 11.30am - 10.30pm
High Tea: 2:30 - 6:30pm