Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

It's been a while since i last attempted at clearing my New York City food backlog and i think it's really high time that i do it proper. And there's nothing like a comforting bowl of ramen to jumpstart the series of my favorite NYC eats. So here, by far the best ramen i've tasted in NYC [better than Hide-chan (they own that actually) and Ippudo at least]- Totto Ramen, which is also given the stamp of approval by New Yorkers. 
We went before the opening and had to put our names down on the list. Stand around and wait for your name to be called! If you miss it, you can say goodbye to those generous bowls of tummy warming chicken based Paitan broth noodles. The menu is kept short with basic configurations of classic Paitan with soy, miso, spicy or vegetarian konbu shiitake broth and permutations of extras like raw scallion, egg, chicken or pork char siu, konbu nori, and seasoned avocado. 
While waiting for the noodles, go for the starters! I can never resist uni and had to order the Seared Uni Rice ($6.50) but while the glorious chunks of sweet and creamy sea urchin served me well, the rice was too dry and sticky (they should do it the sushi rice way).
Of all the brunches in the world and all the breakfasts that i've eaten, Jack's Wife Freda (New York City) is up there at the top of my list and it certainly lists as the best in NYC. It's not your regular brunch food and the cuisine is a lovely mix of exotic from the likes of South Africa, Israel, and Jewish comfort food.
You know the funny thing is that i chanced upon Jack's Wife on Instagram and that is how i was led to this cozy spot in SOHO. The queue can be crazy as they only take reservations for larger groups. I only managed to get in on our 3rd attempt and it was a reward for an 8am run on the Williamsburg bridge. So highlights here for breakfast/brunch- Grilled Haloumi, Green Shakshuka with challah toast, Rose Water Waffles with Lebanese yogurt (labneh), and their secret weapon, the DUCK BACON.   
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: Prospect Park
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.
I'm a New Yorker at heart and I can have up to 2 bagels a day when I'm back in the city. Oh love. And I'd gladly join the queue at Katz's Delicatessen for their towering pastrami sandwiches. Obviously it depresses me so that Singapore doesn't do any of the above food items well. But that could change with Singapore's version of a NYC Jewish deli Sacha & Sons. Located at the prime Mandarin Gallery spot which was previously Wild Honey, Sacha & Sons is a nice complement to the all day breakfast spot which moved next door. They are both opened by the same owners.
Expect meats like pastrami, corned beef, roast beef and smoked fish. Cream cheese and pickles aside, Sacha & Sons offers other Jewish deli staples such as bagels ($3), latkes ($10-$16), chopped liver ($14), kugel ($7), and matzah ball soup ($12.50).
I do enjoy liver e.g. foie gras and pate, but the version at Sacha was so metallic I had to wash it down immediately with water. Thankfully we had some smoked salmon and that got rid of the pungent aftertaste.

We had a taste of the pastrami ($16, $24, $35), and immediately decided that whatever we ordered, there must be pastrami in it. The slices were sufficiently juicy when carved and salty enough to satisfy a savory craving. I was torn between a Reuben Sandwich ($16) and a bagel (there's no denying my love for bagels. Even though there is a Bagel Reuben option, i was adamant that only Rye bread goes with the juicy brisket. Yea yea I'm particular that way.
In the end, Z and I settled on the Scrambled eggs with pastrami and toasted bagel ($18). I'm glad to report that the bagels were satisfying. Exactly the kinda dense chewy dough with a shiny crust that I miss. However, I think the texture has been tweaked a little to cater to Singaporeans who can't take hard food (roll eyes).

There are only sesame flavored bagels because they are more versatile for sandwiches I guess. Sigh. We had the herb cream cheese to go with and it was thick and rich in terms of flavor and texture. If you dislike garlic, you'd be put off by this one. It's so pungent that it can kill a vampire but it's oh so good and savory! I haven't had a schmear so good in singapore. Go for the smoked salmon cream cheese (or lox cream cheese) if you want something saltier (it was very good). I hope they up their bagel game. We could certainly do with variety like say maple bacon walnut.
We didn't know that the dish already comes with cream cheese so we added another side of that garlic herb ($3) for good measure. Turns out each portion was just about enough for a half of a bagel. Sacha & Sons was generous with the cheese but if you have tried a real bagel in NYC, you'd feel short changed.

The scrambled eggs were sufficiently runny and had nice layers in them. They may resemble a chinese fried omelette a little. The pastrami was cubes and cooked with the egg and that resulted in a drier texture. What a pity.

Would love to give the Reuben and traditional Latke (fried potato and onion cake) a shot next time but the bagel is gonna be my staple here.

We had the Sweet blintzes ($12) which is a crêpe stuffed with cottage cheese, and paired with sour cream and jam. It reminded me of the waffles we had in Stavanger, Norway. That was my first time pairing sour cream with waffles and we were told it's a tradition.

On its own, the crêpe was really oily, and the sight of it soaking in oil put me off the dish. Crepes and oil do not go well at all. It was soggy (with OIL) and bland. The sour cream and overly sweet jam could not take away that eeky mouth feel. I'd rather the Norwegian version with a light and crispy batter rather than wet mess.

I'll head to Sacha & Sons if I have an NYC bagel craving, simply because my choices are limited in Singapore. At $8 for a bagel with lox cream cheese, they are certainly not marketed as a typical delicatessen. Well well, so much potential to cultivate a bagel culture in Singapore but not tapped on. Hopefully they stay around for a bit.

Sacha & Sons
333A Orchard Road #03-02 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6735 6961
Sun - Thu: 9am - 9pm
Fri, Sat, Eve of PH: 9am - 10pm
Navigating Koreantown in NYC could be a bitch. My first time was overwhelming because there are simply too many restaurants to choose from and all of them are usually packed to the brim. Nothing is more satisfying than a hot pot of processed junk- spam, ramen, fish cakes and fermented spicy kimchi. Well, if i gotta pick one, my favorite has to be PoCha 32.

First of all, it was an absolute throwback to one of those covered food tents in Korea with the floor to ceiling draped nets and sake caps strewn on it for decoration. The energy was simply amazing and very Korean. Loud conversations, insane laughter, huge pots of food and the non stop eating, slurping and drinking.

Po Cha served an extensive menu of typical Korean dishes but you should certainly order a casserole (they are practically permanent fixtures on every table). I went for the Boodae Jungol ($27), aka Army Stew aka an everything pot, for the ultimate cold weather comfort food. It was a bubbling cauldron of kimchi, spam, sausage, pork, ramyun noodle, rice cake, mushroom and melty cheese on top. Yes it's junk food but you all need this kinda junk every now and then!

This spectacular mess has been dreaming of it every time the weather turns cold. There's something addictive about that spicy gochujang sauce and the hotchpotch of ingredients. Each order is sufficient for 3-4 pax and it's really satisfying.

Undeterred by the size of my hot pot, i insisted on ordering another side dish at least. What's a food review if you only order 1 item right? So, i picked the Squid Soondae ($25). I didn't understand how could squid be so expensive, until it was served. Hell this isn't a side dish! It's a bloody super sized main course! 

This giant squid was way too big and fat for the hot plate that it was served on. Only the body of the squid can be contained on the plate and the tentacles had to be snipped off and placed on a different plate. 

What's more, as the server sliced the squid, spicy pork belly bulgogi started spilling out of the squid! ZOMG droolicious!!!  

The meat was extremely flavorful with the perfect mix of spice from the sauce and the peppers. As with the typical Korean sauces, the base is mostly sweet. Everything was perfectly cooked and the squid wasn't too chewy either. Amazing dish!
The other dishes on the menu. There are a whole lot of them! 
Don't go crazy with your order! Portions are HUGE. We had a hard time finishing our food and there were 3 of us (ok 2.5 since i probably only ate half a regular person's portion). Remember to wash the spice down with a watermelon soju. 

Absolutely love love love PoCha 32. Not sure about the reservations part but if that doesn't work out, make sure you head there early, put your name down on the waiting list and then come back after. The wait could be a bitch but the satisfaction after is worth it. 

PoCha 32
15 W 32nd St #2, New York, NY 10001, United States
+1 212-279-1876
Daily: 5pm - 3am

I've never gone to an indoors spinning class till New York and i guess that kinda spoilt it for all the other spin classes that i'll ever go to. Yes i've sold my soul to SoulCycle (that's if i really have to ride). SoulCycle is the indoor-cycling cult that has people paying $34 per 45 mins class plus extras for shoe rental ($3) and water. Yes it is anything but cheap but it's NYC and New Yorkers will do anything to have them somebody tell them to believe in themselves and that is the appeal of SoulCycle.

SoulCycle is more than indoor cycling. It is a motivational exercise experience that combines crazy spinning, music and therapy. 

Once your shoes clip on, the lights dim and you'll be surrounded by flickering candlelight. The instructor (who is also a DJ and motivational speaker) starts spinning his/her set. You pedal on the beat and you lose yourself to the blaring music. There's no giving up because you ride as a pack, as a community. You will push yourself to the limits because you will not accept anything less. At least that's what the instructors will tell you. Nobody gives up. Until you attain that perfect you.
SoulCycle is fitness reinvented. It has put fun back into fitness and they claim that 45mins is all it takes to transform the way you look and feel. I can bet on that feel good factor. Why do you think there are so many gorgeous New Yorkers with slim waists and perky booties coming back to Soul again and again? I have not walked out of the refreshing lemon smelling facility feeling like i haven't pushed myself enough (other than the time when we had a lousy instructor and that is a rarity).
Along with Lululemon, SoulCycle is certainly the other crazy fitness phenomenon/brand taking US by storm. S is absolutely crazy over them (he needs that external motivation to work out whereas i'm naturally intrinsically motivated. I'm a type A yogi.). That said, i'm good with the occasional adrenalin pumping fat-burning cardio, full-body workout sessions (with hand weights as well). SoulCycle is the best spinning experience ever and sadly we just do not have that kinda crazy inspirational instructors or exciting facilities with great music in Singapore. I guess i'll stick to yoga here.

Do you exercise when you travel? Have you experienced similarly great spinning classes in Singapore? 

I'm usually at a loss when people ask me what's my favorite/best meals. 1. I dine out way too much 2. I find myself increasingly hard to be impressed 3. I've a memory of a gold fish. I don't seek out life changing experiences when it comes to food and traveling, I think people try too hard to find them and set too high an expectation, which usually ends up in disappointment or self delusion that that's the best simply because you went out of the way/paid an arm or a leg just to experience it (and that was a terribly long sentence). I'm not judging btw, it's partly self reflection.

Back to the question on favorite/best meals. It's so much easier to pick favorite ones from my travels because they're more precious. Plus it's a combination of my 2 most favorite things. So the absolute best from New York City under the Michelin star category, I present Eleven Madison Park.
Eleven Madison Park is a 3 Michelin star restaurant, also S.Pellagrino top 50 restaurants in the world. Not that these accolades mean everything.The other 3 stars like Daniel and Per Se were simply underwhelming. EMP however, just kept blowing my mind course after course (there were 13!). To me, it was like going to the theatre and watching a play. What's lovely is that the multi-course tasting menu focuses on the agricultural bounty of New York and its culinary traditions.
The gorgeous backdrop of the park, the spacious dining room and the pampering and impeccable service by the attentive and warm staff, also contributed to the overall dining experience. EMP is possibly the first fine dining restaurant that I felt absolutely at home in.

Of course, the food played a large part! I'm sorry if there's not gonna be much description. Remember I have the memory of a goldfish?

Cheddar- Savory Black and White Cookie with Apple. EMP totally get that desserts are the best appetizers. Loved that crumble.

Oyster- Wood Sorrel, Buckwheat and Mignonette.

Asparagus- Custard with Caviar and Rhubarb.
Surf Clam- Fava Bean, Meyer Lemon, and Green Garlic. Ethereal mousse on top of the sweet clam.

Littleneck Clam. This is EMP's interpretation of a Long Island Clam Bake. I love that the dish had different components to it. Clambake with Whelk, Parker House Roll, and a light chowder served in a teapot.
Channeling my inner Japanese domestic goddess here.

Foie Gras- Seared with Pencil Asparagus and Potato Souttle. The best way to cook foie gras is to sear it. Really.

Carrot- Tartare with Rye Bread and Condiments. I was anticipating this dish throughout the meal because I saw how it was done at the other tables! The waiter would first affix a meat finder to the table and then insert some really fresh carrots (with leafy heads!) for grinding. We were presented with a selection of condiments for us to construct our own dish. Well I just mixed everything up. #notthatcreative
Lovely bread rolls with butter that I could devour on its own.

Lobster- Poached with Snap Peas, Morels, and Sweetbreads. Flavors from the garden and the sea.

Nettles- Creamed with Fingerling Potato and Goat Cheese. Tastes of spring.
Beef-ore and After.

Beef- Grilled with Mushrooms, Amaranth. See that little piece of marrow?

The rest of the Bone Marrow went into this dish. Bone Marrow Braised Oxtail with Foie Gras and Potato. Savory, creamy and delightful.

Celery Root- Creme Cake with Apple Sorbet, Walnut, and White Pepper. I was honestly way too stuffed but there's always space for desserts.

We took away the Chocolate Pretzel covered with Sea Salt and the Sweet Black and White Cookie with Apricot for our picnic in Central Park.
I loved the Muesli Granola that was given to us at the end of the meal. I rationed this for the longest time because they were the perfect savory and sweet snack ever.

S and i have different takes on our meal at EMP. Him being the practical guy thought it was a long drawn meal affair (it took us close to 3h) which also happened to be really expensive (it's US$225/pax before tax and gratuity). I on the other hand was reveling in the theatrics of the entire dining experience. A play plus a really good meal would amount to that price as well. Perhaps the ladies would enjoy this much better (my gf loved it too).

So if you feel like splurging on a really good meal, go to Eleven Madison Park. It may not be life changing but it may possibly be the best fine dining experience in NYC.

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010, United States
Tel: +1 212-889-0905