Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

As promised, here's an update on the long haul flight on EVA Air's Royal Laurel Class from Taipei to New York City. We took the Business Class flight from Singapore to Taipei (thankfully EVA used the Royal Laurel product) and it was rather empty. That wasn't the case from Taipei to New York on the Royal Laurel Class as it was packed mostly with Taiwanese businessmen. Needless to say, the flight was rather entertaining and the passengers boisterous. 
We started with some Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004, only served on the Royal Laurel Class. This is another mark of the premium business product as this champagne is typically reserved for first class. I was also glad to see my favorite FIJIWater available on board to hydrate passengers on the flight! Lovely touches. Whee.
The noise canceling headphones in the Royal Laurel Class cabin are newly developed by EVA Air. With a soft ear padding and ergonomically designed headband, i found it comfortable enough to fall asleep with the headphones on. A convenient mute function allows you to talk to other people without needing to remove your headphones. It's no BOSE but it's better than nothing.
For the long haul, i appreciated that the remote, other than the HD TV screen, is a touch screen. The bigger touch screen remote was perfect for watching movies in bed as the affixed TV doesn't tilt. It also allowed for multi-tasking as it has a split screen function.
Another first class touch is the pajamas in the Royal Laurel Class cabin. The two-piece sleepwear set is made from a warm, soft, brown fabric. S actually found it too warm in fact. As for me, well the PJs isn't of the most flattering size (smallest is M), cut, or color and so i gave it a miss.

I wouldn't blame you if you aren't interested in the PJs because well, let's face it, the Rimowa overnight amenity kit took all that focus away. 
We were more than happy to add the EVA Air mini Rimowa to our current collection of ANA and TG kits.Rimowa kits come in crystal green and prosecco. The cases are made from the same premium materials used in the Rimowa luggage products. We received the kits in both colors during our departure and return flights.

The contents of the Rimowa overnight kits have also been upgraded to now include lotion and lip balm from Harnn, Thailand’s top spa and skincare brand; a screen cleansing cloth for mobile devices; a satin sleeping mask; sleeping socks; toothpaste; a toothbrush; and a comb.
Well, i brought my own essentials on board too- Derma-RX skincare products MAX C and Hydrator to keep my skin supple on the flight. Cabin air can be so harsh on the skin.
On to the food on the long haul. Appetizer of Goose Liver Terrine with grape champagne jelly and poached red wine baby pear. Nothing spectacular and the presentation was simply awful. The plus is that EVA Air provides Echire Butter with their assorted bread. Yums!
A creamy Apple and White Turnip Soup. I've never had such a combination and it was more fusion that western. 
S went with the Asian main dish- Braised Pork Spare Ribs Wu Shi Style with Egg Fried Rice. It looked really blah and the portion wasn't big.
I went for the Pan fried Cod Fillet with Superior Crab Roe Egg White sauce as i thought that the Prime Beef Fillet would be overdone (as many highlighted online). Sadly, this sucked pretty badly. The noodles were soggy and lumpy and also very bland. The crab roe egg white sauce was curdy, probably due to the cornflower starch that they added to make the gravy. 
The Pearl Chocolate Yogurt mousse on a glazed pineapple tart wasn't spectacular as well due to the cloying sweetness. 
The best part of the meal was the garlic and blue cheese course that came at the very end. I couldn't believe how bad the Western meals on EVA Air were until i experienced it for myself.

The horrible experience made me think twice about picking any more Western meals. The western choice for breakfast was sauteed seafood with pesto cream and potato gnocchi. Like seriously what were they thinking? S and I decided that the Taiwanese porridge option may be our safest bet.
It was a way better alternative in fact. Silky porridge (not quite Cantonese style congee or the grainy Teochew rice porridge sort) was accompanied by the Wok Fried Shredded Chicken with Green Sprout, and Braised Shiitake Mushroom with Egg Tofu. 
The porridge set was not spectacular but they were simply, hearty, home cooked dishes that we Asian Chinese are used to. The best part was the miso paste which i added to everything. 

For the NYC-TPE leg, we played it smart by pre-booking our meals. The selection still sucked nevertheless. 
The Lobster with Mango Salsa was on the rubbery end.
The Lobster Thermidor was sufficiently creamy and moist.
Skip the tough Pork medallion with mushroom risotto. You should never order pork as it can be very dry in the air. The soggy rice was also too salty.
Desserts was a caramel almond cheesecake which was decent enough.
The limited on board menu for dinner/supper at 1am. BOO. This food by EVA Air is really disappointing.
For supper, we tried the noodle soup with minced pork, fish ball, fish cake and preserved vegetables. This is typical Asian comfort food. The hor fun (flat rice noodles) didn't quite survive the plane ride though and became quite cakey. The fish balls also weren't very fresh or bouncy.
Other than the disappointing food selection and quality, we weren't very pleased with the lukewarm service that we experienced on our various EVA flights. Unlike the SQ flights where we were constantly being offered snacks and drinks, i even had to hunt down the EVA Air stewardesses and stewards to get my movie snack. What i didn't get was the look of bewilderment when i asked them for their selection of bites (i also caught the judgy look)! The snacks were all packaged and processed, which added to my disappointment. The french fries were similar to the famous Hokkaido Potato Farm version and the seaweed snack was recommended by the stewardess after she finally acceded to my nibble request.
Well well, at least i've Dom for company.
Me all tucked into my flat bed with the really fluffy comforter. 
For breakfast, i opted for the Royal Laurel Special, which has the interesting Braised pork in Shao Bing. Shao Bing is a scallion pan cake and is commonly found in Taiwan night markets.  
The pan cake/bread was fragrant and fluffy. It's not as fresh or piping hot as the night market ones but it was fairly decent for a flight meal. The pork was on the dry side as usual but i was quite happy just having the omelette and scallion pancake. 
Instead of plain porridge, a lily lotus seed porridge was served and it had an amazing light sweetness to it. Add some miso for an added umami! was really comforting and sweet.

It was obvious that EVA Air doesn't fare too well against Singapore Airlines in their category of Business class product. I appreciated the hard product but business class is more than just the seat, or entertainment. In order to have an edge, i believe EVA Air has much to work on their in flight menu (the food is horrendous and the selection limited) and their lukewarm service in order to appeal to international travelers.
Remember how i was complaining about the dearth of good coffee in the East? Well well, i'm glad to be wrong now because of Carvers & Co, Craftsmen (they have great cakes), and now Dutch Colony Coffee Co. has also opened its outpost right here in Frankel Estate! Yay. Ok, if you don't know where that is, that's perfectly fine with me, DON'T COME. Haha. You guys can just head to the one at Pasarbella. :P
I guess it's pretty obvious what my favorite airline and frequent flyer program are (SQ and Star Alliance duh), but actually I do fly on other SA airlines (rather infrequently). For your benefit, and lest you think that I'm hired by SQ to shamelessly promote them, here's part 1 of my EVA Air SIN-TPE-JFK  flight report! I'll start with the SIN-TPE leg which was on the B777-300ER aircraft. It was supposed to be business class but we were lucky they used the Royal Laurel hardware for this particular short connecting flight.

Of the 'Hdb neighborhood cafes' that I've visited, Tolido's Espresso Nook is one that left an impression (a good one). Tucked in chaotic Crawford Lane among local coffee shops and singlet-wearing ah peks, and aunties hawking random stuff at void decks, this cafe juxtaposes with a relaxed and chic vibe that would warrant a repeat visit. 

I bet that some of you are still scrambling to put yourselves together for the new year celebrations (the ladies at least)! I feel your pain on this one and i'm thankful that i've scheduled most of my beauty appointments in advance, well others i just can't be bothered because i have no time!! Here's sharing with you some places that i visit for my beauty fixes, especially if you're seriously pressed for time.

Ok I lied! This is really the last Chinese New Year post and I'm ending it with sweets from my all time fav Tiong Bahru Bakery. It's cny goods with a twist by French baker Gontran Cherrier with three localized creations to celebrate the Lunar New Year – the Pineapple and Coconut Tart; Orange and Chocolate Marble Cake; and Chocolate and Hazelnut Kouign Aman.

I promise this will be the last of my Chinese New Year posts (i think). Frankly i'm pretty sick of eating yu sheng already and we are still a week away from the Lunar New Year! BUT BUT BUT, if you don't really want all that typical cny feasting but still want to feel like part of the festivities, head down to Tian Fu Tea Room for their Reunion Imperial High Tea from 18 Feb to 5 Mar 2015. P.S. i think their yusheng is one of the best i've had this season. ;)

Istanbul is the Asian version of New York. Being the only city in the world that spans two continents, it is a true melting pot of cultures and flavors, and the urban energy is dynamic and absolutely energizing, just like NYC. Want to escape the maddening crowd at the Grand Bazaar or Blue Mosque? Then you must definitely check out the quirky cafe scene in hippie Beyoglu district in Istanbul!

Cihangir is Istanbul's trendiest neighborhood and artistic enclave, similar to SOHO in NYC.  The bohemian culture draws artists, writers, actors and expats, and with that, a strong coffee/cafe/drinking scene is borned.
We're about 2 weeks away from Chinese New Year in Singapore!! In case you guys are still scrambling around for a reunion dinner destination, here's another of my favorite- Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant at Sheraton Towers Singapore. From now till 3 March 2015, Executive Chef Chung and his team will be presenting 9 exclusive festive dine-in sets for young couples as well as large families.

It's the year of the Goat but we are still not seeing meat in our Yu Sheng. Someone should really try to add meat into the equation.

I'm not a fan of the yusheng at Li Bai. Something went wrong with the proportions that day and the asian salad was lacking in acidity and sweetness. It was also missing the much needed refreshing crunch from the greens as they were a little too finely sliced. Even my favorite crackers were too oily for my liking. Even the pricy but bland lobster sashimi did little to save the full dish. 

Yusheng aside, the succession of dishes that followed was faultless.

I could go on about the dimsum at Li Bai but you should just try it for yourself. Worthy of a mention is the inventive mushroom and foie gras flavor in the scallop dumpling, a depart from the typical fish or paste.

Double boiled chicken soup with fish maw, morel mushroom, pearl meat (muscle of the pearl oyster), bamboo pith and tiensin cabbage. A pot that sealed all the flavors and goodness into the rich stock.

It's also a first time I had pearl meat and the texture is very similar to that of a dried scallop, just that it is more tender. Looks like a ear, doesn't it?
Moving on, the Sauteed Lobster served in Crispy Rice Basket. This dish did the prized crustacean way more justice than the yusheng. The simplicity of the Cantonese stir fry retained the sweetness of the meat and enhanced its profile with the light ginger sauce and crunchy asparagus.
The Eight Treasures Duck with Abalone ($388 available for takeaway) is a dish that can rival many pen cai. It was certainly a standout dish for us with the well braised fork tender meat. The umami of the braise was nicely supported by the light sweetness of the 8 treasures mix of lotus seed, chinese mushroom, sea cucumber, salted egg, barley, chicken, pork and chesnuts.
I also haven't had abalone that cuts like butter in a while! It was unbelievably good. 😭
Lastly, the Nian Gao and Water Chestnut Cake to round things off. Loved the refreshing and cool water chestnut cake. The nian gao wasn't as sweet as I expected and it also had a interesting waffle aftertaste.
Please do me a favor and get yourself that carrot cake ($46). Chunks of white carrot with chunky preserved ham and sausage, dried shrimps, topped with dried scallops.

As usual, another stellar meal at Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant. CNY set meals and takeaways are available till 3 March 2015.

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant
39 Scotts Road Singapore 228230
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