Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

2012 has been a good year for me. It's been a year since i started this blog and i'm grateful for all the people i've met and all the opportunities that have come my way. So thank you yall! 2012 was the best year of eating and traveling for me. I doubt it could be trumped once i start on my new job. A recount of all the places i visited this year: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok (check out my best view in BKK post), Genting (with the Nuffies), Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Bali (luxing at Alilas Soori), Hong Kong, Kyoto and Osaka.  

So, to end off my year with a big bang, i'm off The Big Apple and Cuba. Ta da!! The 2 cannot be more opposite. 2 seasons, 2 vastly different countries, a mishmash of cultures, worlds apart in technological link up (oh how will i survive Cuba without Internet) among a million other things.
Credits: Whatyourbucketlist
I cannot tell you how hard it was for this trip to materialize. There was little information from this region's travelers (ICA tells me few Singaporeans go to Cuba) and the troublesome VISA application (we don't have a Cuban embassy in Singapore). But the stars aligned for us and now it's one more place off my bucket list of places to go before i die! :))
I'll be backpacking for the first time in my life and taking the public transport from city to city in Cuba. (Only in Cuba. My Balenciaga and BaoBao will be put to good use in NYC). We usually drive but it's not advised due to the poor road conditions. Anyway, don't expect your regular backpacking with me, I believe i have a planned outfit for every day of the 2 weeks that i'll be there. Heh. That will definitely be a funny story to tell (probably from S's point) so watch this space. 
Hit me with all the passionate salsa dancing, neat Cuban rum and refreshing mojitos and Cuban cigar. I'm ready for it. 

If Cuba were all torture (i highly doubt that), the reward of the Upper East Side (no less) and Fifth Avenue would certainly cheer me up come Christmas. That's when i would unleash the starving monster in me and visit all the fabulous restaurants in New York City. They include Daniel, Momofuku, Le Bernardin, Stanton Social, Balthazar and Babbo among the many others that i'm gonna check out. You guys will be in for a treat.

Don't worry, the blog won't be dead. I've been working very hard to schedule regular posts over the next 3 weeks so you guys won't starve while i'm gone. 

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram or Facebook to get instant updates from the US of A. 

See you folks! And have a Merry Holidays!


I suppose by now everyone has heard of IKYU (Tiong Bahru) by now. It's a high end Japanese dining joint opened by Executive Chef Takuma Seki, former chef-de Cuisine of Hide Yamamoto at Marina Bay Sands. And it is the only Japanese restaurant in the hippie Yong Siak coffee zone in Singapore.
Well, honestly speaking, i don't think it's the best location for a Japanese joint. Think about it. Tiong Bahru is mostly a brunch and coffee enclave (can't you blame me for thinking that?) with 40 Hands, Drips, Open Door Policy, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Poteato and more.. it makes me wonder if a Japanese restaurant would work in the area.  

The interior is a futuristic industrial jungle made with stunning pieces of brass, bronze and concrete. Definitely an atypical Japanese restaurant and i'm not quite sure how it relates to fine dining or the Zen that IKYU tries to achieve. It's not that i don't like the decor, it's just that i feel it works better for an izakaya bar instead.

Food wise, the prices are on the high side as IKYU takes pride in using quality ingredients. The fish is flown in three times a week from Tsukiji and so, sashimi prices start from $15.50 for 5pcs of Salmon/Squid/Engawa to $68.50 for 5pcs of Blue Fin Otoro tuna. Sadly, the fish didn't come close to the Tsukiji sort that i've had.

The lunch menu on the other hand is a lot more affordable ($25/35) and i'm glad i tried this before even considering their ala carte menu. 4 sets are available and each comes with appetizer, salad, soup and dessert. Pardon the bad quality pictures as it was a spontaneous lunch and the lighting is not the most ideal for food photography.
I enjoyed the crab meat appetizer that was served that day. Sweet and juicy shredded crab meat with some sesame dressing.
The IKYU sushi set ($35), assorted sushi 6 pieces and roll, is the most pricy of the lot because of the expensive fish from Tsukiji. If you have eaten at Tsukiji before, these sushi are like half the size of what you get there. I was perhaps 50% filled after eating this and i don't consider myself to be the biggest eater around (just look at my size). I found the fish to be on the dry side as well.
S had the IKYU Chirashi set ($25) which is the same Bara chirashi on the menu ($28 ala carte). Little cubes of sashimi?! You've got to be kidding me. The only other place that i see cubed sashimi is at Sushi Tei and they serve it on their salads. Honestly there are way better chirashi-dons around and i would direct you to my favorites- Chikuwatei and Tomo Izakaya. They give you fresh, chunky, sliced sashimi. Not diced ones.
I have no idea what to make of this orange milk pudding that they served us for desserts.

Perhaps the seven-course omakase menu ($128) would provide you with a better idea of the quality of the food served at IKYU, but honestly, i would rather take the money somewhere that can actually fill me up. IKYU is just average to me. I think i would be happier eating at Sushi Tei in fact. Maybe i'm biased; a hungry girl is an angry one. It makes me hungry just thinking about this one. :/

Would IKYU work for the Tiong Bahru crowd? I can't speak for the others but it's not my cup of coffee. Pop over to the other bakeries for your brunch instead.

5 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650 
Tel: +65 6223 9003
Daily: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Very often, Singaporeans associate areas/hoods of Sg with food/famous dishes/landmarks (of food again). When i think Jalan Besar, i think of the Eminent Plaza hawker center (even though i don't frequent it) and chinese food. However, recent development has seen the addition of cooler-than-thee coffee place Chye Seng Huat Hardware and boutique hotel Kam Leng and its resident restaurant Suprette
Kam Leng Hotel was first established in 1927 by a mysterious owner whose identity remains unknown till today and was recently reopened at the colorful Jalan Besar road. I very much dig the old school raw remodeled shophouse feel to the place and the room rates are very reasonable (from $99/night onwards). I've bookmarked this for a staycation. :)
Executive Queen Room (Credits: Kam Leng Hotel)
The restaurant-bar-cafe Suprette is quite the perfect choice for a light meal even if you are not staying at the hotel. The small and cosy set up has a really lean menu (5 mains for lunch/dinner) but i like that the dishes don't overlap in terms of similarity in taste/textures.
The Suprette Burger ($19) is a medium rare Beef patty orgasm. Well marinated and juicy with that slightly charred exterior, each bite was spilling with the essence of the meat. Garlic lovers would adore this burger but it may be slightly (just a lil) overpowering for others. Love the buttery crisp toasted sesame bun which really held the burger together nicely and tasted good even on its own. 
It's quite a sizable burger as evident from the picture above (thanks to sue for being my model). If the regular burger is not enough for you, top it with more cheese, bacon, mushrooms or avocado for $3 each or opt for the decadent foie gras for $12. The pile of shoestring fries will fill you up for sure even if the burger doesn't. I only wish there to be truffle fries though. 
I chose the Chicken Pot Pie ($14), a glorious 7-8inch golden pastry sun. The buttery and flaky sheet envelops the creamy gravy of carrots, peas, potatoes and chicken that is held in the shallow iron pan. This has got to be the best Pot Pie i've had in ages. I think it's better than M Hotel's pot pie because it's not too creamy and heavy. 

If you are a cheese lover, the Welsh Rabbit aka Cheese on toast ($13) would be your poison. It is plastered with a good 1.5cm of Gruyere cheese and the works and then toasted. The stinkiness and saltiness of the strong tasting cheese would knock you over (in the good way). The toast (2 slices) may look depressing next to the humongous burger but it is extremely filling. We liked the homemade bbq sauce baked beans (very refreshing) that is served with the toast as well.

We didn't get a chance to try the breakfast brunch offerings as it is served till 1030 on weekdays (but till later on weekends). The ricotta pancakes sound damn faboosh to me. Give it a shot and let me know if it's good! Dinner is similar to lunch and you could have the hangar steak and marrow for a more substantial something.
383 Jalan Besar, Singapore 209001
Tel: +65 6298 8962
Mon - Thu, Sun: 7.30am - 11.30pm
Fri - Sat: 7am - 2am
Finding a decent dining spot in the City Hall area is quite problematic, especially with the skinny fat quirky criteria: We didn't want anything too mass, too crowded, too casual (urgh fast food) or too stuffy Where can 2 girls, dressed to kill in low backed dresses and sky high heels go for clean but flavorful food with a variety of textures and ingredients? Hmm..

Well, the answer is Tomo Izakaya at The Esplanade. I'm glad it's still pretty much a hidden gem since the Esplanade is some walking distance away from the main shopping belt. Do not let the lack of a crowd fool you into thinking that the food is bad. Check it out yourself.
Gyu Tataki ($13) is the beef version of sashimi. Lightly seared on the outside then marinated with lemon, vinegar and soy sauce after, it was served with pounded ginger and spring onions on top of the rare meat. Very big slices of beef which really worked our jaws. There is none of that bloodiness or heaviness of the red meat. Oishi.
Skewers were next. Who could say no to BBQ bacon wrapped anything? The smokiness of the fatty pork flavored the succulent and sweet hotate chunks ($10), giving each bite a burst of juices and flavors.
Greens of the night was the Asparagus maki ($7). Crunchy healthy bits to make us feel a little less guilty from all the bacon. :P

Shitake Mentai Cheese ($7) is a must order. The woody and juicy shitake goes perfectly with the crackling bacon and the mentaiko cream was simply the icing on the cake.
To break the monotony of the meat and bbq, we also had the Renkon Chips ($6.50). This is our idea of healthy eating. Well at least it's lotus and not fries.
The Tonkujyou Chirashi ($36) is really the highlight of the meal. The special chirashi is worth every bit of that 36 bucks even though it's a small bowl. Tomo is very generous with the fresh sashimi. The fatty toro was creamy with fats and extremely well marbled. There was so much uni and salmon roe to go around that we had to finish all the vinegar rice (which was delicious on its own too). One of the best chirashi bowls in town and reasonably priced.

Great place to chill out with the boys or girls. You'll sure be seeing me here more often. The other convenient location is at Clarke Quay and they open till later. Sounds like a TGIF plan already. ;)

Tomo Izakaya @ Esplanade
8 Raffles Avenue #01-09
Tel: +65 6333 0012
Lunch Daily: 12pm to 2.30pm
Sun - Thu: 5pm - 11pm
Fri, Sat & Eve of PH: 6pm - 1am

Tomo Izakaya @ Clarke Quay
3A River Valley Road
#01-04 Clarke Quay
Tel: +65 6333 0100

We all know that the Clarke Quay, River Valley and Robertson areas are big on Japanese food. But little did i know i've been missing out on the biggest in-plain-sight gem, Z'en Japanese Cuisine, for so long. I've walked past (and even through) this restaurant at UE Square too many times and i can't believe i never considered going in. 

To my defense, i only visit Robertson with restaurants already in mind like Gyu Kaku or Chikuwatei or Foodbar DaDa or coffee at Toby's... In short, there are just too many things to eat/check out. Well. Z'en finally popped up on my radar when i did some searching around for Shabu Shabu to satisfy my craving (and also the boy's).

Dinner reservation was made for 7 to celebrate the Nov babies' birthdays (J and S). We were given the intimate tatami space on the mezzanine level which could accommodate 15-20 people, perfect for dinner gatherings. 
Z’en (a sister outlet of En Japanese Dining Bar) is run by executive chef, Masashi Yasui from Kyoto. You'll be dizzy with choices just looking at the a la carte buffet menu (64 items in total) and there are a lot more in the main one. I would highly recommend the buffet for the quality items and reasonable price. Buffet prices are listed at the end of the post and it's cheaper to go on weekends (i don't know why but i'm not complaining). 

I was looking forward to lots of Shabu shabu after a recent authentic meal. Z'en serves both the beef and chicken shabu shabu. Needless to say, we went for the Australian Wagyu beef (200g for $39). The meat isn't sliced very thin and that took a while to cook on the portable stove but it was quite delicious with the ponzu sauce. Remember to ask for the peanut one too! We had at least 10 plates of this. Very nice and not too bad marbling.
Other than shabu shabu, other items include some sushi and salmon sashimi. The pieces of sashimi are very small (1/4 the regular size). It's easier to order a few more sets at a go. I wasn't expecting very high quality sashimi anyway so it met my expectations. The Aburi salmon sushi was nice too with small amounts of rice and the salmon was nicely torched. We gave the rest of the sushi a miss to save our stomach space. Of course the rice and noodles section was left unordered. If you must, try the Zuwai Chahan with gravy (Crab Fried Rice, mui fan style, S$23).
From the Grilled Dishes, you mustn't miss the Sirloin Steak with ponzu sauce (200g for S$32). This was perfectly grilled to a tender pink and when it was served, we simply ignored the shabu shabu. This is THE DISH to eat. The fried garlic at the side were irresistible and went well with the meat. For moo moo lovers, do order the Stir Fried Tenderloin Beef cubes with mashed potatoes as well (we forgot about it)
The boys loved the Grilled Squid (S$13) and Baked Oysters as well. Not too rubbery, nicely grilled and rather fresh. There are some skewers and grilled fish on the menu but we gave that a miss.

From the fried section, i adored the Cream Crab Croquette (4pcs for S$10), Ebi Tempura (3pcs for S$13) and Age Gyoza (5pcs for S$10).

A mix of texture is perfect for breaking the monotony of a meat buffet, but go easy on these, if not you'll feel really full after a while. 
The Agedashi Tofu (S$10) wasn't too bad either as it cleanses the palette with its light broth.
Desserts weren't that fantastic but i ate some anyway. You need a sweet end to every meal. Skip the chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The green tea one is a little too milky as well. The Tofu cheesecake and Creme Brulee were adequate in taste and texture. 

Thankfully, the smart me got cupcakes from Swirls which IMO is way better than what Z'en served us for desserts. Yay me. 

There were many dishes that we didn't try but we were very happy with most of the items which we had. The boys were quite happy with my restaurant choice, even the picky W. I will probably be back when my Shabu craving kicks in again. 

Service was a little slow and they have the tendency to forget your orders so place more in advance. Wastage is charged though so don't over-order!

Now for the buffet prices: 
Weekday Lunch (S$38++)
Weekday and Eve of PH Dinner: S$52++
Weekend and PH Dinner: S$48++

Make a reservation! It's very popular. Have an overeating weekend! Cheers!

Zen Japanese Cuisine
205 River Valley Road
UE Square #01-75
Tel: +65 6732-3110
Weekdays: 12 - 2.30 pm; 6 -11.30pm
Weekends & PH: 6 - 11.30pm
[Media Invite]

My heart absolutely pitter-patters with the flourishing of the Spanish food scene in Singapore. I don't know about you guys/girls out there but IMHO small plates are absolutely awesome for greedy tummies who love variety. One of the much raved about addition is Bomba Paella Bar, helmed by Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno, who earned his ranks at London Spanish Tapas institution Barrafina, 3-Michelin star Chez Nico and Quo Vadis.
Located at Martin No. 38 in Robertson Quay, Bomba serves up some authentic and rustic Spanish classics in a funky underground setting; a renovation upheaval from the previous idyllic garden setting of Graze. Rosa, the graffiti wall mural by SBTG, assaults you with her big guns as you take a seat on the vintage church chairs, under the kitchen sieve lampshades. 
Even though it's called a Paella Bar, Bomba does more than just the pedigree of Spanish rice. A variety of tapas and La Planchas (grilled items) are available too and they are perfect for sharing.
I started dinner with the Bomba Punch made from Mazanilla Sherry, kaffir lime, fresh lemon juice, lemonade. It tasted pretty much like fruit punch; very light and absolutely no embarrassing Asian flush. If you need something stronger, try the Sangria. I quite enjoyed my red but would love for more pieces of fruits in them. I was told the white one tastes better after i had half of mine. Zzz. Gotta head back for another drink some time. 
Ham bechamel croquette is one of my must-order-tapas. The Iberico Ham Croquettas (3 for S$12) was satisfying enough though it still comes in second after Catalunya's. I found the breaded crust a little thick and the creamy paste lacking in the saltiness of the Iberico ham. 
Gambas Al Ajillo (S$14) was well flavored with parsley, garlic and olive oil. I would have loved for some bread to soak up the salty sweet essence in which the thoughtfully shelled prawns were sitting in. 
The seasonal Carabineros were done in a similar fashion as the Gambas. This bright red shrimp got its color from the pink plankton that it feeds on. The taste is more intense but the meat was slightly powdery. It's weird because they looked pretty fresh on the ice display counter.
I wasn't too impressed with the other seafood la plancha like the Razor Clams (seasonal) or the Grilled Octopus "Galician Way" (S$20). Both dishes were lightly seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, paprika and parsley, nothing to shout out about. The latter was much too tasteless and rubbery for my liking, perhaps due to it being boiled in water prior to the grilling. Texture wise, it really didn't do it for me.
Undoubtedly, the favorite dish of the night was the Signature Secreto Iberico (S$28). The tender pork was grilled to a pink perfection over the Loko mangrove charcoal spiced with apple branch wood chips. This gave the juicy meat a smoky sweet flavor with a hint of apple fragrance. Absolutely divine dish. 
Finally the paella. I would always choose squid ink over Valencia and the Arroz Negro (S$35 for small) is a wet paella of squid ink, squid, dry sherry, fish stock, spring onions and black mushrooms. It is almost risotto like. While we didn't get that sacarrat crust at the bottom, the moist aromatic grains with copious amount of squid were hard to resist.
Of the 2 desserts we tried, i much preferred the Bitter Chocolate Ice cream (S$14) over the cloyingly sweet Pineapple Gazpacho ($12). I love the interesting combination of bitter sweet and extremely smooth chocolate cream with the salted olive oil. The lovely presentation on that familiar antique plates (from Carpenter and Cook) was almost too pretty to be devoured (but we dug in anyway).

Overall, Bomba hits the right spots mostly and it does quite fill the gap for casual Spanish group dining. The only other restaurant I enjoy is Don Quijote. The friendly prices and the no service charge bonus also help pull in the crowd which started piling in at 6pm sharp. Go early or make a reservation to avoid disappointment! 

38 Martin Road
Tel: +65 6509 1680
Mon-Sat: 6-11pm

[Media Invite]

I'm a meat girl as you all know. I love my slab thick, juicy, bloody and char grilled. Call me an American girl if you must but i think the best setting for steak would be outdoors, with lots of friends, loud music and booze. A pool party would be fine too; it's a lot easier to grill food in a bikini. Takes the heat off ;)
That kinda explains why I have put off visiting The Prime Society at Dempsey for so long. The name and location kinda gives the impression that it's fine steak dining, similar to the stuffy Morton's (didn't like it) and glitzy Lawry's. After all, it prides itself as a provider of prime cuts of the best grass-fed and grain-fed meat in town. I was surprised to find out for myself that it is more tongue-in-cheek fun than expected. The feel is contemporary chic with a relaxed vibe than high society (especially so if you dine alfresco).

I had the first taste of The Prime Society's newly expanded menu (includes non-moo dishes), which is designed by new executive chef Dallas Cuddy. Chef Dallas has a slew of awards Down Under his belt (pun intended). This includes Young Chef of the Year and Best New Restaurant for Izakaya Den (which he co-owns). Having gained experiences from star studded restaurants e.g. Nobu London, he brings to the table some world famous signatures transformed by his Midas touch. 
What i love about this man is how he remains so humble and down to earth. Throughout dinner, he patiently went from table to table, explaining to us how each dish was prepared. This quirky chef constantly looks out for local ingredients to infuse into his dishes. Apparently, he picks out fresh herbs/leaves around Dempsey for his creations. Despite the megawatt charm that we turned on, he kept mum about his secret herb garden location. Boo.   
We started out with some light bites and cocktails before dinner commenced. I was intrigued by the Beef Tartare Pastry ‘Cigar’ (S$7ea). The brick pastry cigars appearance leaves diners with no inkling of what to expect. The first taste was of the finely diced plum wine jelly which is a little sweet and acidic. As you chomp on further, you would then realize that it's filled with a refreshing blend of chopped beef, red onion and chives, lemon juice and olive oil. I foresee this new form of presentation is gonna gain popularity in the coming months.
The Cold Smoked Tuna (S$26) is good for sharing. Marinated in citrus dressing with ricotta, feta and yogurt milk curds, chives and slow-cooked mustard seeds, this is a refreshing dish without the fishiness of the red meat.
Our first course was the Cured Kingfish with eggplant and pickled mushroom (S$15). The fish is first cured in salt, sugar, orange zest, vodka, juniper berries and star anise for six hours and then sliced sashimi style and served. The accompanying puree, made of roasted eggplant blended with tofu and lemon juice, was most interesting. I couldn't figure it where the eggplant in the dish was till it was pointed out. Overall, the dish is tangy and refreshing with hints of yuzu, rice wine vinegar and citrus vinaigrette. 
The steamed Bamboo Clam with green basque sauce and jamon (S$24) was bursting with flavors from the garden, farm and sea. Each flavor could be tasted separately but everything works well together: the sweetness of the clams perfumed with white wine; the herby oregano, basil, chili, parsley and olive oil mix and the saltiness from the shaved jamon. Lovely combination.
Lobster Raviolo was freshly made and stuffed with live lobster and spanner crab meat and served with a lobster shell bisque foam. Herbs and tofu are added to the mix to bind the meat and seal the juices. Though the seared foie gras was bland, the salmon roe kinda made up for the flavors. This is a very light dish and quite perfect for the ladies.
We were extremely lucky to taste the famous Nobu Miso baked Black Cod (S$44) but this has a local twist to it. Served with the egg drop noodles known as lau shu fen or mee tai mak, the dish also features soy beans, spring onion, roast eggplant, tatami iwashi, and a thickened dashi with soy. Chef Dallas does his own dashi fish stock by simmering konbu seaweed and adding bonito flakes. The Black cod needs no introduction; it is marinated in miso, sugar, mirin and sake for three days then baked to order and the flavor and texture are to die for. 
Finally onto some beef. I kinda forgot that i was at Prime Society as the new dishes were all seafood. The Mayura Station Wagyu (S$90/200g) is a Full Blood Wagyu Sirloin, 550 Days Grain Fed (marble score nine). Simply grilled and served with Prime Society seasoning, the meat was quite flawless. I picked the green tea salt along with their sauce. The red was accompanied by confit shallot and truffle custard cream which was irresistible. For big eaters, The Prime Society does 100g supplements for their steaks so you can easily add on a half portion (or full) instead of getting another slab.
Ending off our extremely delightful dinner was the Chocolate parfait, coconut cream and basil dessert (S$15). Now this, you cannot miss. The flavors and textures are mind blowingly awesome. Taste a bit of everything individually and then mess it up for the wow effect. I never thought that basil and coconut could ever go with milk chocolate but it did. And that aerated chocolate/coconut meringue that simply sublimes, that crunchy salted caramel popcorn and creaminess of chocolate..This is dessert heaven.

Gotta say i love the new dishes at The Prime Society and i'll definitely be back to try more of their meats. They also do a neat brunch on weekends. :) 

Thanks to The Prime Society for hosting the event. It was a fantastic girls' night out with great food, happy juice and conversations that we never wanted to end.

The Prime Society
10 Dempsey Road #01-01
Tel: +65 6474 7427
Mon – Tue: 6 pm to 10.30 pm
Wed – Fri: 12 pm to 10.30 pm
Weekends: 10.30 am to 10.30 pm