Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

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There's nothing like pampering oneself at a luxury hotel. Every whims and fancy would have been thought of and catered to so that one could go into vegetation and relax comfortably. The St. Regis provides all that customized service and attention with panache, as evidenced by accolades heaped on by many renowned publications around the world. The same standards apply to the restaurants as well and i was fortunate to experience what fine Cantonese dining means at the award winning Yan Ting. 
This Chinese New Year, if you prefer a less raucous reunion celebration and one with more bespoke fineness, Yan Ting would purrrfect. The contemporary interior provides an intimate space for dining, though the intimacy is more so between the individual diner and their food. That said, you could book one of the 3 private rooms and be your boisterous self. The private rooms accommodate 8-20 pax with a minimum spending, which would be met if you order the set menu.

We had a special 7 course set designed to give us a preview of the 10 CNY set menus that Yan Ting has this Snake year. Think of this as a best of dishes list. Now, feast on the freshest, premium and decadent ingredients.
Yu Sheng is a must have dish for CNY. Every component has its own significance and mostly related to wealth and luck. Yan Ting has switched the radish for snow pear to give the dish its subtle sweetness. I like that the sauce is lot less sweet than the usual Yu Sheng because pomelo juice is added. Abalone and Salmon are also included in this dish.
Here comes the fun part of tossing the dish around with our long chopsticks. Whee! The higher you 'pull' the dish, the more good luck you get in the year. Great excuse to play with food!
Pun Choy is a classic CNY dish. This casserole pot dish came about when villagers offered the best ingredient they have in their home for sharing during the festive season in the old days. All the contributed ingredients would then be placed, layer upon layer, with the blandest ingredient (typically the vegetables) at the bottom and the meat on top. The end result would be a rich and flavorful stew that is delicious and satisfying.

Yan Ting's Pun Choy is the luxe version with abalone, dried scallops, dace fish, pork belly, fish maw, prawns, roasted duck and soya sauce chicken, layered on a bed of white radish and cabbage. This is no doubt one of my favorite dishes of the night. You could also take this away for reunion dinner at home. Each takeaway order receives a complimentary Salmon “Yu Sheng” with Fish Roe, and Fried Glutinous Rice with Preserved Meat, all stellar dishes. This is a great leftover dish because the flavors are more intense overnight and the ingredients more tender. Definitely my favorite leftover CNY dish. :)
The Steamed Sea Perch Fillet with Special Coral Sauce is minimally flavored to allow diners a clear taste of this premium ingredient. It's so premium that only top Chinese restaurants serve this fish. This deep sea fish is more expensive than cod fish and richer in omega 3 content. Definitely not something that you can get at the supermarket. The taste and texture of the sea perch is very delicate and doesn't taste as oily and heavy as cod. This is great for health conscious folks. 
The King Prawn with Plum Sauce is a masterpiece of art, so much that i didn't know what to do with it after it was served. The size is that of a mini lobster but Chef has managed to cook the meat to the right amount of crunchiness while maintaining the freshness of the crustacean. I thought there was a little too much sauce on this one and it kind of overwhelms the taste of the meat. 
As compared to the rest of the dishes, the Beef Brisket Stew pales in comparison. I would expect the meat to be fork-tender but it was a little tougher than that. The sauce however was perfectly crafted and i enjoyed the radish that has been infused with the essence of the sauce.
Till that point in the dinner, I had been sampling all the dishes in an effort not to overeat. But when the Wok Fried Glutinous rice with Wind Dried Sausages was served, i finished every single grain. The dish is very simple but it tastes like home, very heart (and tummy) warming. I guess i tasted the effort Chef put into bringing in the special wind dried Chinese sausages from Hong Kong.

Our sweet ending was the Chilled Black Glutinous Rice served with Ice Cream with Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake. It sounds like a heavy dish but it isn't. The fried nian gao is the orange colored sort and is less sweet than the brown one. We suspect that the smooth vanilla ice cream is from the Italian restaurant and it went really nicely with the black dessert.

The Set Lunch and Dinner Menus are priced $98 to $328++ per pax, with a minimum of 2 guests. There is also an 8 course Vegetarian set menu at $108++ per pax. Other than set menus, there is also a special á la carte menu and some dishes are also available for takeaway from now till 24th Feb 2013.

Takeaways include Yan Ting’s Signature Roasted Suckling Pig, Roasted Duck, Roasted Chicken with Garlic Sauce, and Braised Prosperity Pork Knuckle. Prosperity cakes and new year snacks and hampers also available.
A special cocktail, Red Slangur, has also been created by The St. Regis Singapore mixologists to usher in the Snake year. Doesn't the lime peel twist resembling a water snake swimming in the red hues of the festive drink? This cocktail contains Bombay Sapphire, Lustau Manzanilla, Schweppes and Monin Grenadine, and is spicy, citrusy and refreshing all at once.

Here's wishing everyone an early Prosperous Chinese New Year! This year i'm gonna take a break from the CNY visiting and heading Down Under. Hope you guys have fun!

Yan Ting
29 Tanglin Road, The St. Regis, Upper Level 1, Singapore
Tel: +65 6506 6866
Lunch: 11.45am -2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm -10.30pm

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I love meat and i love them BBQed. When i was holidaying in Korea 2 years back, the frequency at which i wanted to eat Galbi was driving S nuts (he thinks it's too oily). I don't even get to eat much of that in Singapore. BOO. So imagine the excitment when i was invited to Bornga at The Star Vista. Now pile me with the Woo Samgyup till i go into a meat coma!
A little more on Bornga- it is the brainchild of Jong Won Paik, one of Korea’s most successful and renowned celebrity chefs. Since 2002, it has grown steadily into a BBQ chain that is popular not only in Kimchi land but also in China, US and Indonesia. How did Bornga win so many hearts? Well.. read on.
With the start of each meal at Bornga, or any decent Korean restaurant, diners would be greeted with a slew of Banchan (small plates). The dishes vary from day to day, and each restaurant would have their own signatures. These are refillable too. My favorites are the marinated spinach, anchovies, potato salad and omelette.

Bornga serves 3 types of kimchi- the regular, water kimchi and radish kimchi. Each has its own unique flavor and they are all made in house. I quite enjoyed the light sweetness in the refreshing shredded radish kimchi. The looooong tray of raw vegetables on the left is served, to diners on the patented design tray, with any BBQ meat order. 
Just look at the size of each piece of veggie! It doesn't matter if you're eating alone because you'll still get the whole deal! That certainly helps with the guilt of eating BBQ meat. It's practically health food. ;) 
Many Korean BBQ serves Bulgogi, which is a sweet marinated meat (pork or beef typically). I'm not a huge fan of the high sugar content of this dark colored marinate. Bornga suits my taste because they offer Ggot Sal, an unmarinated prime cut Australian beef boneless ribs ($38). Saeng Galbi, another tender prime cut beef is also served without all that seasoning. This allows the natural flavors of the meat to be enjoyed. Eat it simply, or add some sesame and pepper seasoning and then stuff the entire veg-beef parcel into your welcoming mouth. 
If you prefer a little more flavor, go for the signature Woo Samgyup, a thinly sliced US beef shortplate with Bornga's special sauce ($22). This recipe is patented by Chef Paik and no one knows what's in it. The sauce is flown in from Korea regularly and the recipe secretly guarded. We only know that there are fruits in it.

The sauce is only poured on the meat shortly before serving to maintain the meat's natural color. Due to the thin slices, the meat absorbs the flavors very quickly. I like that the mild sweetness, which is unlike the typical cloying bulgogi.
Here's sharing the Bornga way of eating the Woo Samgyup. 1. Put the scallions onto the grilled meat 2. Roll them up in the meat 3. Dip into the patented Woo Samgyup sauce (top left) 4. Wrap the parcel up in the lettuce 4. Open your dinosaur mouth and EAT. The scallions lift the taste of the meat and thus there isn't any heaviness even after eating a lot of meat packages. Heh.
If you prefer a sweeter and more substantial meat, go for the Tteokgalbi, a grilled ground rib meat patty mixed with a soy sauce seasoning ($20). If Bornga is going the fast food way, i highly recommend that this patty be made into a burger. It would be 2 patties as the 'bun' and then vegetables in between. Idea?? :)
For those who can't do without their carbs, the Chadol Duenjang Jjigae is a signature dish. This is a traditional Korean soybean paste stew with beef ($16). The stew is reduced over the table top stove and then made into a bimbimbap after mixing the rice and vegetables in.
The result? A rich and flavorful bowl of rice a la mui fan style. Love the spicy kick in this one. 
If the meat is getting to you, i would highly recommend the Naeng Myun, buckwheat noodles in an icy beef broth ($15). The thinner than usual buckwheat noodles are chewy but still easy on the jaws. I love the light beef broth with the snow pears. I think the table was shocked when i said that this dish helps to whet the appetite, considering how we were at our last dish and it was almost bed time. :P
To end it all, the Omija (five flavored tea) is served to all guests after their meal to cleanse their palate. This tea supposedly has cleansing and beautifying properties. I took home a pitcher. Kidding.
I enjoyed my Bornga experience very much. The environment and ambience is very comfortable for a meal with family and friends. Noted that there isn't much smokiness in the indoor area. I would say sit outdoors if the weather is cool.

Bornga will also be opening a second outlet in Vivo City some time this year so keep a look out.

Thanks to FoodNews and Bornga for this invitation.

1 Vista Exchange Green #02-24, The Star Vista
Tel: +65 6694 4696
Daily: 11.30am - 10pm 

I'm a foodie and caffeine addict before a traveller and as such, travel planning always involves scouring through food guides, blogs, forums and buzz from the local-sphere. For me, food is indicative of culture and an important way of life for the people and hence, one of the best ways to understand and experience a country. In countries where a coffee/cafe culture is prevalent, I would certainly be cramming cups of caffeine into my system and then taking sleeping pills to combat all that hyperactivity at night.
While i was in Hong Kong, autumn of 2012, i decided to check out their coffee culture. I believe we all know about the Yum Cha and Cha Chan Teng landscape but the third wave movement has taken on a more dynamic development in recent years (very much like Singapore). Here is my list of Artisan Coffee places to check out in the Fragrant Harbor.
Iced Yuan Yang (coffee+tea) for breakfast at Mido Cafe, practically a tea house institution.
The Godfather- Knockbox
It all started with Knockbox Coffee Company, and they are serious about their coffee. From the coffee bean origins, to roasting their own beans (in their outdoor roaster just behind the shop), and finally the meticulous brewing (special attention to temperature of water), their passion is reflected through it all. The coffee comes at a price though; a cup of specialty coffee easily sets you back by HK$60 but you get to choose the beans and brewing method.
Affogato (HK$40)
If an espresso could be creamy, this golden elixir is it (even without the ice cream). The light acidity of the espresso was nicely neutralized by the smooth ice cream that was added to it. Godfather Knockbox is and it doesn't disappoint.

G/F, 21 Hak Po Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon

The Austrian- Café Loisl 

Cafe Loisl entered the scene at around the same time as Knockbox in 2011, serving authentic Viennese coffee. Other than the regular espresso with cream or milk, give the Maria Theresia or Mozartkaffee a shot. The first is an espresso with orange liqueur and whipped cream while the latter is a double espresso served with cherry brandy, pistachio brittle and whipped.

Pair that with some Austrian traditional Sacher Cake if it suits you or perhaps an Apple Strudel or Cherry Poppy Seed Cake to complete the experience.

G/F, 8 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

The Alley Cat- Barista Jam 

This cooler than thou industrious coffee shop is tucked away in a small Sheung Wan side street. The grunge atmosphere and rough edges are nothing indicative of the smooth Australian-style coffee that they brew. Director William So is a coffee geek and he surrounds himself with coffee equipment, which he's happy for you to bring back home (with a price of course). If you're not the DIY sort, hang out by the bar and watch the baristas perform. 

Shop D, G/F, 126-128 Jervois St, Sheung Wan

The Mad Scientist- Rabbithole Coffee and Roaster

A trip down the Rabbit Hole will bring you into the fantasy land of caffeine induced ecstasy. Or a science lab full of gadgets and apparatus meant for brewing that special cuppa. Take your pick from the various single origin beans and dictate how you want it brewed. The Mad Hatter will meet your every demand. Or if you wish, take one of their coffee classes to better appreciate the aroma and flavor. Who knows you may discover the barista in you. 

2/F, 26 Cochrane St, Central, Hong Kong

The Breakfast Place- 18Grams
Another espresso cafe (chain) serving locally roasted coffee beans but i do love their food menu. Who can say no to All Day Breakfast! I had a hard time trying to locate their Mongkok outlet and the walking around in the hot sun was killing the flu-ridden me. FYI, it is in the G/F of Gala Place.
The Eggs Benedict (HK$72) was absolutely deli even with my exceptionally dull taste buds. The smoked gammon (ham), sauteed spinach and egg were nicely coated with the rich, creamy and cheesy Hollandaise sauce. It's the less acidic sort, which also happens to my preferred type. One of the best Eggs Benny i've tasted. There are other eggs available, as well as pasta, soup and salads available.
My iced mocha was very satisfying as well. Mind you this was a rich cocoa (not syrup) with strong and intense coffee. The coffee art really put a smile on my sniffly face too. Thumbs up for 18grams.

Shop B04, 56 Dundas Street, Gala Place Basement, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Shop 3001-G (Minor Portion), Level 3, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City,
3-27 Canton Road Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Unit C, G/F, 15 Cannon St, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Mr. Bookworm- Kubrick
Books and coffee couldn't go any better. Spend your time browsing or lounging at this obscure book cafe just next to the super old school art house cinema Broadway Cinematheque. The cinema still uses the cut and paste method of highlighting show times. Of course, the same kind of obscure books, magazines and films can also be found at Kubrick.
I love the airiness of the place with the floor-to-ceiling windows washing the entire space. Spend some time contemplating about life in the peaceful silence at Kubrick. 

H2 Chun Fat Garden, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
The Hole in the Wall- Espresso Alchemy

Espresso Alchemy meets all the criteria for being an indie third wave coffee place. Obscurity, specialty beans, local roasting check check check. Throw in a rare licensed coffee grader cum barista and you will be assured of a magical cup of coffee. Espresso, siphon, hand drip, you name it, they have it.

Shop 8, G/F, 4-6 Hoi Wan Street, Ka Wing Building, Quarry Bay

The Award Winning- The Cupping Room

How far would you go for award winning coffee? If the answer is 'to the moon and back', then you should head down to the idyllic Stanley beach. This coffee haven is opened by Derek Chiu, 2nd place winner of the Hong Kong Barista Championship in 2011. The long road there also reminds you to take things slow and enjoy your cuppa. 

Specialty beans are sourced around the world and then roasted to order to ensure you only the best taste. The only Synesso machine in Hong Kong is also used here. 

Shop 207, 2/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Rd, Stanley

The Popular- Caffe HABITU
This boutique cafe is started by the HABITU group and it focuses on the Italian lifestyle just like its sisters Habitu Ristorante and caffe HABITU the table. It is no wonder why it is a to-see-and-be-seen place for the trendy Hong Kong crowd.
The convenience and consistency of this cafe and bar draws the crowd in like bees. It was a 30 minute wait even on a weekday afternoon. The coffee here is definitely better than your regular Starbucks (cringes). Food and cocktails are also available and perfect for those nights when you wanna unwind with your friends. 

Several Locations around HK. I went to Caffe Habitu the table at G.O.D. Causeway Bay. 

This coffee list is by no means comprehensive. Coffee Assembly is also another that i would wanna check out when i head to Hong Kong. Something i've discovered is that most of the artisan cafes are located on Hong Kong island, specifically the Sheung Wan and Central area. So which is your favorite Hong Kong cafe? Tell us about it. 

Had a serious bout of Japanese food craving after being away for 3 weeks. It's not that there isn't Japanese food in NYC (Nobu was fantabulous), but there isn't many options for good tasting and affordable Japanese fare unlike in Singapore. So for my birthday, i insisted on having Japanese food.

S wanted to bring me to Akane but he didn't make a reservation and we were turned away at the guard house (they claimed it was only for Association members!). The fast thinking me directed him to Dempsey's Rakuichi. Heard from my friends that it's not easy to get a table at the Far East Shopping Center outlet, which is quite booked but no such issues with the one at Dempsey. If you like your sashimi and Aburi sushi, this is really a place to visit.
Small eaters we are so it was a mini course ($48), Zaru soba and California handroll for sharing between the 2 of us. 
To start off the Mini course, we had the fried river shrimp, tamago and edamame. The shrimps could be more crispy in order to be eaten whole. I'm quite particular about this as i have this phobia of the shell puncturing my mouth. The egg was pre-prepared and commercial ie sushi chain quality.
We moved to the counter as the walk in section had one too many mosquitoes. The other section was already reserved so we had no other place to go. But that gave us a vantage point of all the fresh seafood on display. Oyster lovers would be glad to know that the ones served here are ginormous. 
Rakuichi serves quality and fresh sashimi without breaking the bank. Love the buttery and smooth texture of the fish, indicative of fresh and not frozen fishes.

They are served with freshly grated wasabi, which IMO is a indicator of a quality Japanese restaurant. California roll was an a la carte order. 
Skewers of the day included pork belly, salmon and yakitori. Each stick was nicely flavored accordingly to complement the different meats. Love the side of sugar roasted sweet potato! 
The Deep fried salmon was a little of a disappointment. I guess salmon should never be wasted in the deep fryer. This was dry and tasteless even with the mayonnaise. 
Highlight of the meal has got to be the Aburi platter. The meat was simply sublime and each piece was drizzled in a different cream/miso sauce. Perfect torching technique as i've previously highlighted in my Kaiho Sushi review. The kita-komachi rice, one of the best rice in Japan, accompanies the fish, adding that light vinegarish and sweet dimension. The little charred spots bring in some smokiness too.
Zaru Soba was of the right springiness, definitely better than the top of the chain stores ie Sushi Tei. 
The Fish head miso soup in hot pot wasn't too fishy (me and my quirks). Just the right amount of sweetness from the seafood to go with the umami miso. Very comforting.

Glad i've tried Rakuichi. Another addition to my quality Japanese restaurants that don't burn your pocket list. (Read about them here, here and here) You simply gotta have their Aburi Sushi and Sashimi for sure. Enjoy!

10 Dempsey Road, #01-22
Tel: +65 6474 2143
Daily: 11.30am - 2.30pm; 6 - 10pm

Other locations:
Far East Shopping Centre
Hotel Oasia 
Greenwich V
Back from my 3 week long escapade to the Big Apple and Cuba. More updates on that soon (i hope). 

Here's a short addition to my Do Not Eat list till i get over my jetlag and lose this food baby of mine. Donna Carmela, an Italian restaurant at Greenwood Avenue, is a restaurant that my friends and i would never visit again. 

What killed it was the expectation that it sets (authentic Italian) and how miserably it does in achieving it (exceptionally slow and bad service). 
The dining area is quite decent and cosy and they appear to have an extensive wine selection. Prices seemed very reasonable with their prix fixe set lunch (even on a weekend), a 3 course with tea/coffee set us back by only $25 (can't remember the exact price) and i like that they have a wide variety of options. Well, that's till our food actually arrived. And that took forever. 
What we don't get is how a simple dish like parma ham with melon could take a good 20 minutes to prepare when there was no one in the restaurant other than our party of 12. 

We could hardly tell the difference between a cream of mushroom and a cream of chicken. Plus it tasted worse than a diluted can of Campbell. 
Average beef carpaccio. It was another long wait between our appetizers and main course despite us reminding our server time and time again as my gf had to leave earlier for a work appointment. We also noticed that some expatriate guests who came in later than us actually got their food before we did. Double standard service is absolutely intolerable. What made the long wait worse was the meh food that came after.
Seafood pasta with seafood that's not fresh. 
Pretty tasteless pasta that's supposed to come with some meat/meatballs. In this case they were quite nonexistent, if you could spot them. I can cook better pasta than this, seriously.
The best bet would probably be the pizza. It's not the best around, it's probably average but certainly it pales in comparison to other truly authentic Italian pizza spots. Even Da Paolo does way better ones. I certainly do not recommend this restaurant for their mediocre food and bad service.

Donna Carmela
2 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park
Singapore 289189
Tel: +65 6463 4206