Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

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It's been a while since my last leisurely afternoon tea. Once a fixture in my weekend plans, this relaxing activity has been shoved to the bottom on my weekend to do list because it takes up quite a fair bit of time. :( I almost forgot how enjoyable it is till my little Gourmet High Tea buffet at Pan Pacific Orchard Singapore. 

I'm never a fan of buffet because it promotes gluttony. I don't believe in gorging myself silly just to get my money's worth. Give me quality over quantity anytime. Pan Pacific Orchard and i share the same sentiments on buffet and it shows through their tapas concept high tea in its newly rejuvenated Lobby Lounge
There is a nice spread of pastries, cheeses, little sandwiches and plenty of desserts. It's a perfect place to catch up with girlfriends over little quality bites that complements rather than take the attention away from the company.
High tea is available daily but during weekends, guests get to relish in three of their most popular and well received Plates of Pleasures, including the recently Global Hotel Alliance-Awarded Famous Peddlers Char Kway Teow, prepared à la minute. Chef Andy’s recipe was selected from more than 160 recipes submitted
by chefs from Global Hotel Alliance member hotels such as Marco Polo, Kempinski and Pan Pacific across 56 countries.

I love that the noodles are not oily like the usual black char kway teow. This is also not as cloyingly sweet. The fragrant dried shrimps and huge prawns had me at the first bite. I must say Penang Char Kway Teow is my thing.
The Assam Laksa packs in the acidity and though the udon-ish rice noodles is quite unlike the chewy and transparent one that i had in Malacca, it was rather appetizing. For the additional flavor, mix in the pungent fermented prawn paste served by the side.
The Prawn Noodles was also quite delicious with pork belly served instead of pork ribs. This gives the soup a tinge of sweetness. Truth be told, when i first read about these Asian dishes in the press release, i didn't quite see how they would fit into the gourmet high tea concept. But you see, presentation is everything and you can see how hearty food is served in a chic black pot. 

These dishes are a la carte and are prepared when you order them. Feel free to order more after you've finished them. I would go for seconds and thirds of that fried kway teow. Yums.
Another highlight of the weekends is the two live stations serving Swiss Cottage Melting Raclette and Spanish-Bred Iberian-Cured Ham. Love the grilled zucchinis and baby asparagus that lovingly accompanied them.
If you love cheeses, you'll love the tea here. My favorites are the Long Clawson Chili and Lime, Black Pepper Cheddar and the Wensleydale Cranberry. Just eating these are enough for me.
Desserts are delicately prepared. I enjoyed the Blueberry cheesecake served in the form of a Chinese Pau. The brownie and the coffee soaked sponge layers in the Opera were also delightful. Sip on the free flow Pacific coffee or TWG teas. Change your drinks when you feel like it. The signature Iced Apple Tea was very soothing to the tummy as well.
The Gourmet High Tea Buffet is available daily from Monday to Friday ($28++) and Saturday and Sunday ($38++). From 1 February until 30 March 2013, Pan Pacific Orchard Singapore is having an opening promotional offer of one dines free for every two paying adults everyday. Now how about some tea party with the girls?

Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore
10 Claymore Road
Tel: +65 6831 6685
Daily Afternoon High Tea Buffet: 2 - 5pm

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It seems like Japanese themed malls are all the rage these days. Just along Orchard Road there's the entire atrium at Plaza Singapura and now 313 Somerset has recently revamped its level 3 to house all things Nihon in terms of food and fashion. Taking over the terribly overpriced Blue Mountain is Japanese Italian Cafe Dolce Tokyo which serves an extensive variety of Japanese sweets, as well as other savory dishes.
With more than 50 variations of tea and coffee at Dolce Tokyo, ranging from lattes, frappes to shakes, it is no wonder why Dolce Tokyo is the perfect spot for shoppers to rest their feet after shopping, or for those looking for a sweet something to conclude their meal. 

I had the milky Iced Matcha Latte ($7) which was a welcomed relief after my hot yoga session. Would have preferred a more intense green tea flavor but this would suffice. The signature blended Iced Mint Yuzu Tea ($6.50) was a little too funky for me. The tea was quite sweet but the bitter aftertaste from the yuzu peel and the cool mint made me put the drink aside after 2 sips. Well i did give it a second chance.. 
I would say that the cafe is really more Japanese than Italian. Don't go expecting pasta or pizzas as sandwiches and crostinis are the Italiano representatives here. The Mixed Crostini Platter ($18) consists of the tomato concasse with chilled shrimps, salmon roe, tamagoyaki, smoked salmon (we had parma ham instead). Mix and match your own. These are pretty good for sharing and i love the crispy grilled multigrain bread that is from their central kitchen.
All day breakfast is also served here but i'm not impressed with the food. With Wild Honey (read review here) just next door serving better quality breakfasts at similar prices, i really don't see myself paying $22 for the Smoked Salmon Benny here. That's not to say it's terrible tasting. It's decent, just not worth the price tag. My advice? Stick to the Japanese dishes. 
The Hiyashi Chuka ($17/19) is one of our favorite dishes of the night. Cold Somen with strips of tamago, cucumber, carot, ginger, ikura, gammon ham, nori, wolfberries and shrimps; drizzled with a light sesame sauce. I can never say no to cold Japanese noodles. It's so easy on the palate I could finish it all. 
If you like Curry Rice, the one at Dolce Tokyo is pretty decent and rich in flavor. Each order (original $16; omu rice $19) comes with a stick of skewer (choose from a selection of 4). The Teriyaki Pork Belly skewer is well marinated and tenderly braised just like the chinese kong ba. The 3 side dishes changes daily; we had the baby octopus, potato salad and marinated jellyfish. Another hit with us.
A Sukiyaki styled hotplate is also available. We had the Ebi Toji ($12) topped with a Pork Chorizo Sausage. S loved every bit of this because sukiyaki is his nemesis. Add on $5.50 for a bowl of rice with miso soup or $8.90 for a slice of cake/dessert of the day.
I'm quite a fan of the Unagi Fried Rice served in a hotstone bowl ($20). This comes with a skewer as well. Flavorful fried Japanese pearl rice which is slightly sticky and fluffy. Good quality unagi, comparable to any decent Japanese restaurant, was served. My favorite part of the dish has got to be the crispy burnt rice at the bottom. Crunchy!
Now on to desserts. The Japanese style cakes are light and fluffy. The Yuzu cake is made the traditional way, a little more grainy and dry. However, the yuzu paste was refreshing and not too sweet. The chef insists on using Japanese ingredients for the cakes, which kinda translates to higher costs. This slice will set you back by $11.50 but it's a huge slice that can be easily shared between 2-3 pax depending on your appetite.
I absolutely adore the Green Tea with Goma Sesame cake. This is moist and light and rich in the black goma and matcha flavors. The matcha-goma crumble on top really takes the cake, literally and figuratively. I would have this anytime. Highly recommended. 
The Dolce Tokyo’s signature Dessert Bento ($18.90) is a combination of desserts in tasting portions. Shiratama (a popular Japanese rice cake) with Konnyaku Jelly, Panna Cotta with Caramel and Marshmallow, with Brownie and Vanilla Gelato all in one dessert box (ours was replaced with carrot cake and matcha ice cream). It's a little haphazard and none of the above impressed me. I ate all that kantan jelly even though it was tasteless because i was told it will improve my complexion. Beauty be the death of me. 

Located at Level 3 of 313 Somerset next to popular Japanese fashion stores Uniqlo and Lowry’s Farm, Dolce Tokyo is a relaxing spot for customers to wind down and mingle with friends over a nice meal or cakes. Give it a shot. Follow my recommendations and you won't go wrong. 

Dolce Tokyo
313 Orchard Road, #03-23, 313 Somerset Mall 
Tel: +65 6836 5612

Sun-Thu: 11.30am – 10.30pm 
Fri, Sat, Eve PH: 11.30am – 11.00pm 

So we continued with our journey to explore Joo Chiat in our quest to find out which is the best Vietnamese eatery in Singapore some weekends back. The rave was of course Long Phung (read it here), which we both love, but we do have some issues with the sweetness of the broth (as do many). We decided to check out 233 Quan An Vietnam that is a couple of blocks away.
My standard drink at any Vietnamese eatery- Ca Phe Sua Da ($2.30), Vietnamese Drip Coffee with Milk. Granted that it's not the most pretty or high quality beans but it gives me the high from the strong dark coffee that's kinda over-roasted and the sweetness from the condensed milk that also masks the bitterness. This was quite satisfying. 
You can order individual portions of the Goi Cuon ($1.20ea), fresh spring rolls. Instead of the typical dark sweet sauce with peanuts, we got the cut chili version with vinegar. This was quite refreshing and provided a fiery kick instead of the regular sweetness. The quality of the rolls are of the expected standards that we exact of Viet eateries that claim to be authentic.
Both of us had the Pho Bo with beef balls and probably brisket ($6.50). Though the soup is a little more savory than Long Phung's, i find that the broth lacks in flavors. The meat was also on the tougher side, especially for the brisket. Balls were good though. 
Perhaps i've been spoilt by Long Phung and other Viet restaurants but i'm too used to freshly cut chili padi and the whole she bang of special sauces that they typically provide. Needless to say i was quite disappointed with the 2 bottled sauces that sat sadly on the tabletop. The innocent looking chili sauce was surprisingly spicy but it certainly pales in comparison to fresh ones. 

The crowd started packing in at lunch, with quite a couple of Vietnamese. Perhaps the other dishes aren't too bad but it's not gonna be my top choice for Pho Bo. 

233 Quan An Vietnam
233 Joo Chiat Road
Tel: 63481208
Daily: 11am - 2am
Tucked away in a hidden corner in the quiet Orchard Central mall is Kilo at PACT, a bistro-restaurant that serves Japanese-Vietnamese bites that would appeal to the healthy palate. Other than eating in the raw concrete space, take the time to experience the full retail and hair/beauty services with K.I.N and PACT +LIM. A one stop shop for a day of chilling out in town in style and peace.
Let's start off with what i like. The Japanese food here is pretty decent. Don't go there expecting a full range of Japanese meals, there are only a couple of donburi, rice bowls and sushi rolls. Ladies would love it here because of the clean tasting ingredients, mostly raw-ish. The portions are also friendlier to the waistline though i can never finish more than half a sushiro. The dishes aren't traditionally Japanese but quality Japanese ingredients are used. 
The Beef Short Ribs Bowl ($18) is one of my favorites. Think juicy and tender grilled beef short ribs on top of a myriad of colored raw veg like sweet corn, radish, sugar peas and wasabi sprouts. Every bite is fresh and refreshing and even if you don't like carbs, i bet you'd finish the nice sticky Japanese rice. The overall taste is very light, nothing like the typical beef bowl that is drenched in gravy.
I also love the Sushiros and my choice would be the Salmon Avocado Sushiro ($15). Chunky fresh buttery salmon wrapped with a generous serving of creamy avocado, Japanese cucumber and shredded carrot, prawns and Tamago. The Niigata rice that the roll is crafted from is also of the right acidity and also i love the additional crunch from the side of soy flax seed chips that is served with the huge roll. Healthy alternative to chips that satisfy the junk food craving!
From the Vietnamese section, the items that i've tried failed to impress. Then again, i haven't tried enough to make a concrete conclusion. The Beef Pho ($16) tasted like it came out of an instant packet though. The noodles were rather hard and did not have the fresh pho texture and i found the soup overly salty and laden with MSG. Quite a pity considering that the tenderloin slices and homemade ginger beef balls were rather tasty. 

The Viet Drip coffee ($4.50 cold) was diluted and weak, totally unlike those that i get in Vietnam or at the eateries in Joo Chiat. I would definitely recommend Long Phung (read it here) for authentic and cheap Vietnamese food instead. Maybe i would give the Banh Mi here a try, but i highly doubt it would blow my mind. 

Would i visit Kilo at PACT again? Probably. I do like the ambience and the Japanese meals are quite perfect pre/post yoga. Give it a try if you're in town.
Kilo at Pact
181 Orchard Road
#02-16/17/18/19 Orchard Central
Tel: 68847560
Tue - Sun: 11am - 10pm
Split is Croatia's 2nd largest city and also the largest coastal city in the Dalmatian Coast facing the Adriatic Sea. We dropped by for 2 nights while journeying along the coast (read about it here).
The most famous sight would be the Diocletian's Palace, a retirement home for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been transformed into a museum/entertainment hub/bars and pubs catering to the 3000odd living within the compound, as well as the rest of the 166k people in Split.
Spend a little time wandering around the palace. We explored the underground museum but it was nothing very impressive, just big empty cavernous stone walled spaces that are damp and cool. Within the boundaries, there are shops that sell knick knacks, souvenirs, jewelry and the sorts. They are really better known for their pub crawls that cater to the many hostels located within.
Or hang out at the Dioklecijanova (Cardo Maximus). When night falls, you can sit on the cushions at the steps, get a drink and chill out to live music. I believe there is some exotic Egyption themed restaurant nearby as well. 

Take a side trip to the many different islands around the area where you can enjoy the beaches privately and intimately ;) The more popular ones are Hvar and Brac. We took a ferry to Stari Grad and from there a bus to Hvar.
There's nothing much at the city area so off we hopped onto the little charter to brought us to the beaches. 
1st stop Jerolim. Love the clear blue seas which are pretty cold even in June. Baked for a while with the naturalists and then to Stipanska next.
Stipanska has a built up area which is occupied by a beach bar. You don't have to patronise them. We were terribly ripped off because we didn't know of an extra charge to lie on the day beds (even if u get a drink) :/ 

Our accommodation at Split Inn Apartments was very confortable. The centrally located office was easy to find and the person in charge led us to our apartment (on foot) which is only a couple of minutes away from the Diocletian Palace. 
Love the loft style apartment which is more than big enough for the 2 of us. It could probably accommodate another person on the couch. We paid about 70 Euros a night. The stone walls in our apartment prevented us from getting much of a signal but the wi-fi strength was quite strong on the first floor patio. 

My last meal would have to come from Villa Spiza in Split. This is undoubtedly the best meal in my life (so far) and we chanced upon it after S heard some guide mentioning it on the streets. There isn't a menu here. The chef simply goes to the market and picks out whatever that is available and fresh. 
The set up is essentially a home kitchen with 1 cook who is also the boss. We perch ourselved on the wooden bar chairs and waited eagerly for the food to be prepared. Menu for the night, shrimps, steak and squid ink risotto. Quite our standard fare in Croatia but we didn't know the surprise that lies in store.
The simply done shrimps in garlic, parsley, butter and perhaps some white wine. So much joy just eating with my fingers and sucking the luscious roe from the heads. Da yums. 
Lovely steak with a creamy beans and mushroom side. You cannot miss the squid ink risotto that is so flavorful and full of squid freshness. 
I was standing on the bottom rung of the stool and he's still bigger than me! The food was so good we finished every single morsel as you can tell. MUST TRY THIS!
Villa SpizaKružičeva 3, Split, Croatia

Konoba Marjan was recommended by the manager at Split Inn Apartments. Apparently you need a reservation to get a table here. We went early and were lucky to get a table much later. 
Perhaps our taste buds have been spoilt by Villa Spiza the previous night, the food was kinda bland and not that tasty in comparison. It's regular but just not WOW? I was slapping myself for not going back to Villa Spiza. 
There are a couple more interesting restaurants around the area we lived in. Do check out Sperun. We had brekkie at Sperun Deva which is just opposite. 
A quick meal before driving off to Dubrovnik. Roasted Tomatoes (only organic here).
Some Parma Ham, smoked salmon, omelette and anchovies (because S wanted to try). 
So yea.. this kinda concludes our Split visit. It's pretty but it's really quite a tourist spot i feel but i'm glad to have found that hidden gem in the Diocletian Palace. Even if you're not gonna stay for the night, you gotta at least have a meal at Villa Spiza. LOVE IT.