Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Many tourists would flock to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes when in New York (i blame SATC, SJP and her bad taste). Honestly the cupcakes from Magnolia are terrible. The batter is too dry and the icing is just really mucky. So here is a way better alternative Sprinkles Cupcakes. It's my girlfriend's favorite cupcake in US and Mr Cupcake a.k.a. S gave his nod of approval (though that boy eats anything sweet).
Apparently they are the world's first cupcake bakery and it all started in Beverly Hills where the stars shine and cupcakes dazzle. Their sweet treats are handcrafted from the finest ingredients, including sweet cream butter, bittersweet Belgian chocolate, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, fresh bananas and carrots, real strawberries and natural citrus zests. It's no wonder why they are so popular. What i love most about their cupcakes is the deliciously moist interior, not too cloyingly sweet frosting and intense flavors. It also helps that they look so simple and pretty.
If you happen to be in LA, visit the Sprinkles ATM to get your convenient fix of cupcakes. Check their video out. 
Definitely gonna head back for more flavors this time round. I would love to try the spiced Chai tea cake with chai vanilla frosting. The Cuban coffee would sure send me spinning with the powerful coffee frosting on top a Belgian chocolate cake. Oh and they have vegan and gluten free options available for their Red Velvet cake too.

Guilt free option of a 'Doggie cupcake' are available too with no sugar and yogurt frosting instead ($2.50) too which is sugar free with yogurt frosting ($2.50). Regular flavors are $3.50 a pop.
Which other cupcakes in NYC do you dig? Tell us! Just don't say it's Magnolia Bakery. I WILL JUDGE YOU. Kidding. No really. Now go eat a cupcake. :) 

Sprinkles Cupcakes
780 Lexington Avenue (between 60th & 61st streets)
New York, New York 10065
Mon - Sat: 9am - 9pm
Sun: 10am - 8pm
Momofuku Milk Bar is the sweet dessert sister of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group. Founded and owned by Christina Tosi, the queen of all things sweet and lovely, Milk has been coined one of the most exciting bakeries in the US of A.
The desserts are not fancy schmancy but they resonate with everyone from young to old. It is no secret that Christina has a major sweet tooth but the secret lies in her eye for little details and knowing what exactly warms the heart and tummy. Anyone who have tried her Cereal Milk™ Soft Serve (US$4.50) would agree wholeheartedly. I wouldn't even bother going for the other flavors. 
It is easy to place the taste if you grew up on milk and cereal. The flavor is the essence of the all that cornflakes frosting with bits of honey oat clusters and other crunchy bits at the very end of your cereal breakfast. I'm amazed at how she could replicate all that different dimensions in one smooth, milky and a little icy soft serve. It comes 'bottomed' with cornflakes in the cup and you can add more crunch for a little more. 
The Crack Pie® is as addictive as crack. Perhaps even more. But it's real good stuff. It's sticky and chewy, sweet and salty caramel-ly in the middle, with some maltiness as well. The crust is a nice blend of oats and buttery graham which is my absolute favorite kind of pie base. Get a slice for $5.25. Heck. Get the whole pie ($44). I did. And it is still not enough. Yea.. that addictive.

Was told to try the Cake Truffles (3pcs for $4). These ping pong sized balls are essentially cookie dough. I'm not much of a fan of the Birthday Truffles (shown above), they tasted artificial in some ways. The chocolate malt ones were alright too. I guess i'm not a fan of cookie dough.

If you can't make time for the queues at Momofuku but wanna have a taste of their famous Pork buns , you can get them here at Momofuku Milk bar. Each costs $8 but they are bigger than the individual portions at the store. The texture of the bun is more ciabatta like and this is the pulled pork version. I topped it with a wonderfully slow poached egg for a buck. Absolutely delicious.

The blur me thought the pork bun was different from the ones served at the main Momofuku chain because it looked different. Ordered it again at Momofuku Ssam Bar just to make sure. The taste is the same but the texture is just a little different.

Another must try in NYC. I LOVE MILK!

Momofuku Milk Bar
East Village (around the corner of Ssam Bar)
Mid Town
Upper West Side
Carroll Gardens
I thank David Chang for being such a godsend with his Momofuku brand. You gotta have at least 1 meal at 1 of his restaurants when visiting the Big Apple. My winter gastronomic itinerary was too darn packed for me to squeeze in another reservation at Momofuku Ko and i thought it was lost to me till the next trip. Thankfully there is Momofuku Ssam Bar and their no reservations policy, we tried our luck and managed to get a table on our last day in the city. O the happiness when we saw only a short queue. Whee! 
Momofuku Ssam Bar serves an unpretentious Asian comfort food with a duck-dominated menu. This is a casual joint where you can simply pop in for a quick meal or a snack or 2 for 20 bucks and leave really satisfied physically and emotionally because the food is ingenious and vibrant. Yes eating is an emotional thing for me.

For lunch, there is a 3 course Prix Fixe meal for US$25. I decided not to be greedy and stuck with my own choice of dish while S took this option.
The Striped Bass was picked from a list of 3 appetizers which included Fuji Apple Kimchi and Steamed (Pork) Buns. All are great choices and come recommended. I would say go for the famous Momofuku Pork buns if you have not eaten that before. As we already had that bun at Momofuku Milk Bar, we decided to try something different. The bass was very fresh and the texture was sublime. Interesting rice pops to give the carpaccio an added crunchy texture. This is seasoned with plum, cilantro, green peppercorn. Very refreshing.
Charred Octopus didn't seem like a very good choice to me but S didn't wanna order another duck dish because of my duck rice order. Do not make the same mistake as he did. You should ALWAYS do duck at Ssam. The octopus was grilled to a crispy exterior but i found it very bland even all that stuff going on the plate. Don't remember anything about this dish other than it's plain and you shouldn't order it. I'm sure the Fried Duck Dumplings and Duck Bologna Sandwich options would have been much better.
Now.. How did the Steamed Pork Buns (2pcs for $10) come about if we didn't order it with the lunch set? Well.. blame it on the greedy me. When i saw that the other tables had the kong ba bao version, i wondered if the bun that i had at Momofuku Milk Bar was the same Momofuku Pork Bun (seriously..) The one at Milk is a pulled pork version in a different bun. Not sure if it's because i added an egg with it but you can't blame me for thinking that they were different! Anyway, they tasted about the same with the hoisin sauce, cucumbers and scallions. The textures were a little different and i kinda like Milk's version better as it seemed a juicier.
Now, you gotta have my absolute favorite dish, which is the Rotisserie Duck Over Rice ($14). I felt that the duck was very interesting as a flavored minced duck scallion patty was sandwiched between the caramelized skin and the pink tender meat. Add a little of the sweet hoisin sauce with some chili and the taste is absolutely heavenly and very Vietnamese. I added a chives pancake on the side ($2) and wrapped the meat in the salty flaky dough and it became an interpretation of a modern Peking Duck wrap. I'm so gonna have this again and this time probably the huge ass Whole Rotisserie Duck Ssäm ( with chive pancakes, bibb lettuce, hoisin, duck scallion, crispy shallots, two side dishes) AND the Bo Ssäm (whole pork butt, dozen oysters, kimchi, rice, lettuce).
The Chevre Sorbet was a terrible terrible choice from the lunch set. We should have gone with the safer Lemon Meringue Pie. There's simply too much going on. We didn't finish this and went to Milk bar (which is around the corner) to have our favorite Cereal Milk Soft Serve and Crack Pie. :) 

Remember, whatever you do, you GOT TO HAVE the duck rice at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Do it for supper, whatever. Just eat it. 

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd avenue, new york, ny 10003 | corner of 13th street and 2nd avenue.
Tel: +1 212 254 3500
Reservations are only taken for large-format meals.

A New York City 3 Michelin stars restaurants list would have been perfect for my blog should i have had things my way. That's if i had all that tummy space, time and money to experience it all. Last trip was meant for Daniel, Le Bernadin and Jean Georges (which we cancelled because we were shopping boo). Out of the 2, i was more impressed with Le Bernadin for their stellar execution of everything fish. They even made this un-fish fan (fish hater seems too harsh) change her mind about having fish as a proper meal (though i still maintain that fish is not meat).
I'm not a food snob in the sense that i don't blindly believe/follow the stars; the food should always precede the reputation. At Le Bernadin, Chef Eric Ripert recognizes and respects that. The use of subtle textures and flavors and sourcing of the freshest ingredients all contribute to the award winning meals that are served at this NYC seafood establishment.
We had the 3 course lunch which cost a mere US$72. This is why i love fine dining overseas at  because it's so much higher in quality and way easier on the pockets. The menu selection is extensive and we had a hard time just picking a starter from the Almost Raw or Barely Touched section. 

We started with the generously portioned Amuse Bouche of Salmon spread, which is the usual salmon mayonnaise but tasted so much better than what anyone could possibly make at home due to the freshness and condiments used.
The Almost Raw Tuna was a layered plate of thinly pounded Yellowfin Tuna, Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette, served simply with shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil. The individual flavors could be tasted separately but they worked extremely well on the whole. The tuna took on an almost beef like taste as a result and the thin baguette gave the dish its surprisingly factor with its wafer like crunch. Love this one.
The Barely Touched Scallop was a new creation, created a month before we arrived. The cute pearly Nantucket Bay Scallops were really sweet and when done carpaccio style with the Finger-Lime, Lemongrass and Lime-Shiso Broth, the dish was a breath of fresh air in the dreary winter. 
The Poached Skate was fantastic with a nice bounciness to the meat. I love eating it along the grain as there's hardly any need to use the knife. Food eating quirks. The Brussels Sprouts-Bacon Mignonette gave the mild illusion of a meat dish without the heaviness.
I love the oiliness and fattiness of a good fillet of Cod. The meat is firm and substantial but still maintained its moisture after undergoing the wrath of the oven. The silky texture tofu strip with sea bean salad and octopus wouldn't have been out of place at a Chinese restaurant so it comes as a surprise that it appeared on a French plate. The dish would have been perfect if were left untouched by the cumin-red wine sauce. I liked the sweetness of the red wine reduction but the cumin added that touch of exoticism that's better left in the Mediterranean.
A good meal should always end on a sweet note and my Coffee dessert was quite perfect. It looks simple and plain with the Caramel Crémeux, Mascarpone Mousse and Coffee Ice Cream but the astronaut-ice cream-ish chocolate pops that almost evaporate upon contact with your tongue make it a pretty cool dish. Plus it's chocolate. How can anyone not love chocolate?
The Black Forest was a little more interesting with the varied flavors of sweet and sour. Special mention to the Belgian Kriek Beer Sorbet which got S really excited. Interesting characters on this plate; Mr. Dark Chocolate Cremeux was a smooth fellow while Ms.Vanilla Kirsch Bavaroise hid a dark skeleton in her closer- a brandy-soaked cherry. Despite the differences, cherries, chocolate and vanilla will always be the perfect love affair. 
Should you have more time and cash to spare, please please please do the Chef Tasting menu ($147). I don't think anyone will regret that.

Le Bernadin
155 W 51st St.
New York, 10019
Tel: +1 212 554 1515
'Chicken Rice' is a must eat street food dish in New York even if you're not a street food fan. It is known by many names; some call it the ‘Platter’, some know it as ‘Chicken & Rice’ or the ‘Gyro Spot. Whatever it is, i'll gladly ditch my Michelin stars just so that i have space for my favorite 'Chicken Rice' in the city. And the only one you should eat at is The Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th in Mid Town (the original).

It's not really chicken rice per se, and certainly not the Hainanese or Singaporean Chicken rice that we are familiar with. This is the American Halal food cart sort. Check it out for yourself.
Now doesn't that look gorgeous? The fluffy long grained Basmati rice can be topped with the plainly seasoned grilled chicken and/or the must have heavily flavored lamb loaf bits. Part of the secret to this delicious meal is in the white sauce which is creamy and really helps in neutralizing the crazy hot sauce that they have. Go easy on the hot sauce, it's FIERCE. The pita and lettuce also help to cool the heat.

For $6, you get a huge tray of rice with meat. S and i would usually shared a tray and even so we can never finish it all at once. The convenient packaging makes it easy for us to pack it back as supper. The gyro is much tastier than the chicken, which tends to be a little dry. The picky me can never decide if i only wanna do gyro alone so it's always mixed for us.
Make sure that you get it from The Halal Guys because there are other food carts that pretend to be them. So here is how you make sure you get the right one. 1. The Halal Guys currently brand their bags, shirts, and carts with the slogan "We Are Different." 2. Their to-go bags are yellow 3. Their logo features a gyro log on a spit (as shown above).
Check out the video to see for yourself how popular The Halal Guys are. Trust me when i say this is THE STREET FOOD of New York City. Eat it like the locals do here. It's just next to Hilton in Mid Town and they now have a few carts all in the same area.

The Halal Guys
53rd St & 6th Ave “Original Location” (in front of Hilton) / 7pm to 4am
53rd St & 6th Ave (across 6th Ave from above location) /10am to 5am
53rd St & 7th Ave / 10am to 5am
Nobu New York is one of the best known restaurants in the Big Apple and depending on which list you refer to, it is among the top 40 eating spots. However, given all the media attention and hype that this flagship  restaurant of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has generated since 1994, i found that new style (or innovative if you insist) Japanese food here hardly lived to its reputation. I mean.. it wasn't bad but it wasn't mind blowing as i expected it to be. And i would expect it to be fantastic given its perennial popularity and how reservations needed to be made way in advance. Thankfully our concierge gets us top tables even at short notice if not i would be damn annoyed.
The interior is inspired by the Japanese countryside and warm wooden tones and stone textures were employed to create a relaxing atmosphere for dining.

The Lunch Omakase is very reasonably priced at US$65/75 and that allows you a taste of their signature dishes. We did that and added 2 other dishes for sharing between the 2 of us and we were quite full at the end. A la carte prices are listed for your reference.
The Omakase started with the Bigeye & Bluefin Toro Tartar with Caviar ($32) which was a rather refreshing dish due to the wasabi sauce that it sat on top of. The dish is eaten with a little spoon and you'll definitely get some spicy sauce that is guaranteed to clear any congested nose. Interesting presentation.
Next was the Yellowtail Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing ($24). This dressing was created by Nobu to make sashimi more appealing to the salad eating Americans. The base was a light vinegar soy with hints of sesame oil and caramelized onions.The fish was so so but it was lifting on the whole with the shredded daikon, pumpkin and cucumber.

Rock Shrimp Tempura with creamy spicy sauce ($21) is one of my favorite dishes at Nobu. I loved the crunchy and light batter which coats the bouncy shrimp bites. This is a snack that i'll always order even if i dine at Nobu all the time. I love it as much as i do Sushi Tei's Hanasaki Ika Tempura (a little insulting but that's pretty good too).
The perfection that is the Black Cod with Miso ($32) was every bit that i have imagined and better. This is a dish that many chefs replicate around the world but Nobu still does it the best. The fish is marinated in the sake-miso sauce for 2-3 days before baking to give it sweetness. I must say this is THE perfect match for the plump fish fillet.
The thing that Nobu does terribly is sushi and sashimi. My assorted sushi was so bad i couldn't bear to finish it. The rice was lacking in flavor and didn't hold well due to its dryness. The fish didn't taste particularly fresh and the texture was just off.
Our side order of the Nobu Special Donburi Chirashi ($34) was also too meh for me to wanna describe it. My regular sushi places in Singapore do better chirashi than Nobu. I kid you not.
The Anago Eel ($6.5) fared a little better with its slightly creamy but powdery texture. Of course I've had better ones in Tsukiji but this was bearable.
Our meal ended with the plain Bento Box ($12) which is a warm Valrhona chocolate soufflé cake with shiso syrup, white chocolate sauce and green tea ice cream. Little thought went into this one. The cake wasn't all that molten and the green tea ice cream lacked the intensity of the matcha.

If you do go to Nobu, just stick to their signature dishes and NEVER do their sushi and sashimi. Overall it's an a-ok experience. Just a little disappointing because i was expecting the wow factor.
Nobu New York
105 Hudson Street (at the corner of Franklin)
Tel: +1 212 219 0500
Mon - Fri: 11.45am - 2.15pm
Daily Dinner: 5.45 - 10.15pm
Ippudo is a well known brand for its Tonkotsu (pork based) Hakata ramen from the Fukuoka region. Since its humble beginning in 1985 with a small counter seating of 10, Ippudo has expanded to 43 shops throughout Japan, with outlets in New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Ippudo NY is Shigemi Kawahara's first overseas venture and probably the best overseas outlet. 2 hour queues are the norm at this no-reservations restaurant and even in the bone chilling winter. The Singapore pales in comparison to the rich and flavorful broths over here at the 4th Ave branch in NYC.
We were ravenous after that terribly long queue and proceeded to order immediately after being seated. Start with the appetizers, which are no way less attractive than the ramen. Hot favorites include the Hirata Buns- a slab of braised pork belly (of course) or chicken sandwiched between Ippudo's original spicy buns sauce and mayo (2pcs, US$9).
I highly recommend the fried Chickens Wings (3pcs, $7) which were marvelously crisped on the outside andglazed with Ippudo special black pepper sauce that is umm umami.
The Tofu and Nasu Agedashi ($10) was satisfying as well though the tofu wasn't the silkiest. I like that the dashi broth isn't too bland like how some restaurants serve it. Honestly if i wanted something lighter i would order chilled tofu instead of fried ones don't you think? The scallions and wasabi provided a refreshing dimension and i loved the eggplant tempura that is served as well.
My choice of ramen was the Akamaru Modern ($15). This is the original silky "Tonkotsu" (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. And boy, that had me slurping non stop for the next couple of minutes. The flavors are rich and creamy without being heavy, which is what a good Tonkotsu ramen should be. Noodles may be a little on the softer side but not overly soggy. Your liking really depends on your preference.
I'm not too big a fan of the Karaka Miso Ramen ($16). The soybean based Tonkotsu soup with the Ippudo special blend of hot spices would have been fine but once that bolus of ginger paste was happily stirred in by S (who isn't even a ginger fan), the soup tasted like the Singapore Chicken Rice Chili sauce. Too much ginger spoiled the broth.

Top up your ramen with the delectable toppings. You gotta have the Nitamago (Seasoned boiled egg with running yolk, $2), Kakuni (braised pork belly, $4) a melt in your mouth stewed fatty pork and b ($3).
Is it Ippudo NY worth the queue? Definitely. Absolutely delicious ramen that even chefs are willing to queue for on their free nights. I should be eating there just as you read this. ;)

Ippudo NY
65 Fourth Avenue (Between 9th and 10th Street)
New York, NY 10003
Tel: +1 212 388 0088
Mon - Thu: 11am - 3.30pm, 3- 11.30pm
Fri - Sat : 11am - 3.30pm, 5pm - 12.30am
Sun: 11 am - 10.30pm
If you want a quiet brunch in town, Nassim Hill Bakery,  does a good job of satisfying an egg craving. The outpost at the hidden part of Tanglin Post Office is nowhere to be seen from the main road. You have to get in, head up and navigate through the butchery and out to find it. I thought they were closed when i was looking for the place. The easiest way is to drive up Nassim Road and it's just next to the Post Office entrance. 
The place wasn't too packed on a Saturday afternoon. I don't think 1pm is too late for brunch. I hope it stays this way, though i've let out on this secret. Bistro and Bakery by day, Nassim Hill Bakery does a wholesome breakfast food for egg crazy people like me. At night, she transforms into a bar serving unique cocktails and the aromatic Grimbergen draught beers (A Belgian abbey beer first to debut in Asia and exclusive to Nassim Hill and 1128). A dinner menu is also available.

All breakfast sets comes with a basket of bread, all freshly baked by Freshly Baked (read review here), one of my favorite bakeries! Head Baker Audrey takes charge of the bakery section and supplied Nassim Hill Bakery with the same breads that is ever so perfect and familiar. The bread basket includes the fluffy white ciabatta, the yeasty and malty Grimbergen Ambree bread, fluffy Walnut raisin bread and cereal rye bread.
The Hearty Scrambled Eggs ($20) was creamy and runny and it was served with Swiss cheese, French Rosette de Lyon salami or prosciutto with our signature Grimbergen Ambrée beer bread.
Lovely Eggs Benedict ($20) on the airy white ciabatta pillows. Perfectly poached eggs with chunky succulent and sweet smoked ham, creamy hollandaise sauce with the right amount of acidity, what more can i ask for in a Benny? I reluctantly swapped a half of my benny with S's Hot Reuben, which i ordered for him because i wanted to try. Haha. 
I did not regret exchanging our dishes at all. Seriously, this is the star attraction at Nassim Hill. The Hot Reuben ($18) is a massive sandwich of sliced corned beef with melted emmental cheese, saurkraut, onions and Russian dressing on their signature Grimbergen Ambrée beer bread. This sandwich is absolutely appetizing and no one flavor overpowered the other. The malty aroma in the bread could be tasted in every bite. This is definitely my must-order from now on. 
Their coffees ain't quite impressive and neither were their iced teas. The mocha was way too sweet, even for the boy with the sweet tooth. Chocolate syrup=meh but i love the ginger snapps that came with it. Yums.

Adding to my list of yummy brunches in town!

Nassim Hill Bakery
56 Tanglin Road
Tanglin Post Office #01-03
Tel: +65 6835 1128
Tue-Sun: 8am - 8pm