Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

When i visited Koh Samui last yeari was in a mess. Like literally. I was sick, tired, and was in a terrible shape (too much eating in NYC). I knew i had to get away from the horrible haze in Singapore (no thanks to Indonesia), even if it was for a short bit. So i found myself a yoga retreat just 2h away from home, packed my bags and mats and an entire wardrobe of lululemon and liquido yoga gear and left. Samahita Retreat and Vikasa Yoga were my top choices and they are great, both with a strong emphasis on yoga, wellness, and clean eating (plus more).
Samahita Retreat is a quiet spot on Laem Sor beach and they are exactly what they described themselves to be- a wellness resort where someone traveling alone can meet like-minded yogis (yogis and foodies are the best kind of people).
I love the openness of the space, be it airy indoor shalas with high ceilings, or the huge window panes that allow the sea breeze in. It would be lovely to practise on the beach shala but it was under renovation then (bummer). That said, the smaller beach cabana was available during morning classes. 
It is also here at Samahita Retreat that i went deeper into my Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga has got to be the most punishing practice ever (IMO). I had some led classes in Singapore (until my teacher gave up on teaching us ho ho) and have been hopeless with memorizing the sequence (the primary series alone could take up to 2 hours to complete). But within 3 days of the Mysore practice, i committed the sequence to memory (ok i still mix it up sometimes). You'll see progress in less than a week really.

Beginners do not have to worry about not knowing yoga or ashtanga. Led classes (guided class) are conducted at the same time as the Mysore class (self practice with a teacher to correct students individually). I'm really grateful for the practice, and the positive vibes from my fellow yogis. There's no judgment, no competition, only kind words #blessed.
Let me bring you through a typical day at Samahita Retreat on their all inclusive Yoga Daily program, which includes all yoga classes, use of facilities, and 2 meals a day.
7am: Light breakfast is served. I'd grab some hill tribe organic coffee to perk myself up before Breathwork/Mysore. The pranayama class helps to wake you up gently but I like to shock my system. While the LED class begins on time, the Mysore practice is free and easy and you could join anytime.  
10am - 1pm: Brunch buffet. During low season, residents pick 2 - 3 cooked dishes with some toast, fruits, juices, and oatmeal served buffet style. The menu changes daily so you get a variety of dishes. Vegetables is the mainstay here but you get 1 fish option for each meal.  Honestly I did not miss having meat at all because the food is really damn good. I would be a vegetarian if i can get food like this every day. It's all about healthy and nourishing food. Eating clean never felt so satisfying really. 
Here are some of my favorites from brunch- Cinnamon whole wheat pancakes/ French toast/ Oatmeal Porridge (they alternate between a bread/porridge for brunch). And definitely PEANUT BUTTER and BERRIES JAM with the lovely carb or yogurt. Oh and that spinach cheese crepes were amazing too! 
There are also heartier options for brunch which includes carbs dishes, stir fried veg and fish etc.
The Tom Yum fried fish and soup were soooo goooood! So was the stir-fried pumpkin/zucchini with egg!
Free and Easy Afternoons: I would recommend a swim in the salt water chlorinated pool or in the sea which is steps away. You can also take the stand up paddle board out anytime as well (it's complimentary) and you can really work on balancing in your yoga poses, or working on your upper body strength, or just lie on it and get a tan! 
Or go for one of the massages at the Spa. I had the Touch of Ayurveda and opted for a strong deep tissue therapeutic massage to go with the Ayuvedic oil. It was superbly good in relieving the tenion on my upper body from Ashtanga practice.
Feeling peckish? The kitchen is open all day long so you can get fuller meals like Thai or Western food, healthy detox juices, and raw snacks. I love their Goji Bliss ball and the Cashew Nut cup. Fresh Thai coconuts are also available and they are just so perfect for an afternoon by the beach.
5 - 6pm: Restorative Yoga Class. This is typically a yin yoga class to balance the yang energy from the Ashtanga practice. I was surprised that i actually liked it because it's so relaxing and easy. It really does help with easing some tensions from all that strain from the chaturangas and jumping. 

Sign up for the complimentary use of the Herbal Steam room before 5pm and it'll be ready for use from 6 - 8pm. If you're not that hungry, by 6pm, i'd say get yourself hot and steamy, then go into the pool for a bit, and repeat. It's really good for blood circulation. There will be enough time for dinner after that.
6 - 8pm: Dinner Buffet is served during this time. Again, it's ala carte choice during low season. My favorites are the Yellow curry (with sweet potato and potato) and roti, stir fried veggies are always yummy, Pad Thai, Spaghetti with rocket (black pepper style with olives and feta!!). The cooking is done Thai style by the way. You're in Thailand afterall. Oh and i inhale their Thai zucchinis all the time. I really look forward to the meal times. You can always go light with the steamed veg and salad options so it's really all up to you. You'll also get 1 small portion of dessert each night (it's rationed)!
7.30pm: Optional daily night activities. Meditation classes offered on Sun, Tues, and Thu. I avoided it because I'm terrible at meditation but the shala is really peaceful and beautiful at night.
If you're serious about detox, Samahita Retreat also offers several personalized and guided Detox, Healthy Weight and De-Stress programs. They do colon hydrotherapy and fasting etc. as well. Be rest assured that you'd be well supported by the Samahita team. 
Samahita Retreat is also home to Centered Yoga, which offers the 200h and 500h Yoga Alliance certifcation at the 200h and 500h. They get really good guest teachers over there and i'll definitely be checking one of those out. Kino is probably going in 2016!!
Accommodation wise, the rooms are spacious and clean and there is WIFI. There's no TV but i guess you can always watch something on your gadget. I used their laundry service and it was efficient and very affordable (THB120/kg). 
Some downsides. It can be fairly noisy sometimes with the human chatter as the indoors shala is just across the kitchen During the morning session, you get the whole brunch preparation going on and in the evenings, it'd be the dinner prep. So.. Anyway, i guess it'd be better at the beach shala once it's ready again since it's slightly farther from the chit chat. 
I loved Samahita Retreat and I would not mind staying here again for an extended Ashtanga practice. Till the next time!

Thailand 55/20-24 Moo 4, T. Namuang, Suratthani,, Thailand


I'm pretty skeptical about marketing gimmicks such as labels like 'Top Restaurant in X" and "Best Y cuisine..". You can so imagine this cynical one rolling her eyes when she receive the invitation to taste the "Best Peking Duck in Singapore". BUT seriously, newly opened Kai Garden at Marina Square really lives up to that label. Consider me impressed with Chef-Owner and Executive Chef Fung Chi Keung's traditional Peking Duck when i tasted it. It was indeed the best that i've had. 
Chef Fung was previously from the Paradise Group, so you can be expecting a strong Cantonese cuisine at this 200-seater restaurant in Marina Square. 
So the glistening Peking Duck ($88/duck) is definitely the star here. The crispy skin was simply amazing (and i don't even really enjoy skin). The layer of fats under the naturally colored, browned crust simply renders beautifully in one's mouth. It doesn't taste too oily even.
I've been told that i'm a COMO fan by someone i was introduced to for the first time. But who wouldn't be really, after getting a first taste of the signature Christina Ong experience at Point Yamu by COMO in Phuket. So immediately after my Phuket getaway, i booked the next COMO holiday in Bali Indonesia- Uma Ubud.  
It was not love at first sight at Uma Ubud for me. For one, you really don't get to see much at a glance. It took a while for my other senses to kick in and that's when the Uma brand of love crept in. 
If privacy is what you want, privacy is what you get. Uma Ubud is in Ubud, but not in Ubud. You step in, and you leave the world behind. Everything is tucked away and secluded and you're enveloped by the lush greenery, tall trees, bird and insects and all. Pause for a moment, and all you hear and feel would be the pulse of nature and the beating of your heart.
The property is sprawling without any feeling of crowdedness. The planted rock walls that mark each room blend in perfectly with the nature, removing any type of clastrophobia. On several occasions, i found myself lost on the narrow paths that connect the different spaces. It's literally a jungle in there, which is amazing because it was unexpected, at least based on my first impression at the reception area.
Has it been 4 years since i last visited Salt Tapas & Bar??! Apparently so! It was one of my first few reviews on the blog in fact and i did enjoy the small bites over at this casual joint by Luke Mangan. Glad i made time for the Christmas tasting at Salt Tapas and Bar and here is the line up for the one day only New Year's Eve dinner menu available from 6 - 10.30pm (min 2 pax, reservations required). 2 menus are served, King of the Land ($80/pax) and King of the Sea ($100/pax). No prize for guessing the theme of each menu.
A preview of the King of the Land Menu- Wagyu Sirloin!
Both menus start with freshly baked sourdough (chewy and porous) with smooth churned butter that are flavored. This round, Sea wins with the rich prawn butter that is umami and fragrant. Word is that prawns have been blended and added to this for the rich crustacean flavor. Land serves a milder bacon bone marrow butter, which i expected to be more smoky but it wasn't particularly.
2016 food trend alert! I foresee there will be many more of the Japanese omakase-cocktail pairing type of restaurants popping up next year. Yes you heard it here first! I first experienced this at Kakure by Ki Sho. Sushi Mitsuya does it as well, and then recently at the spanking new FORT by Maison Ikkoku. Yes our favorite brunch co. now has a cool and classy restaurant-bar sister at Pinacotheque De Paris on Fort Canning Hill. The menu sees a line up of bespoke cocktails alongside pretty plates of mod Japanese food, and the entire concept is developed by the familiar Ethan Leslie Leong, who is both the Executive Chef and Master Mixologist
I first met Ethan at Drink Culture and he already wowed me with his cocktail skills then. Now add chef to the mix, and interior designer too?? The 30 seater restaurant is also designed by him and it's super underground chic. Love the vibe here!

Much thought has gone into the cocktail pairing multi-sensory dining experience at FORT by MI. Expect to be surprised by the changing scents, textures, sounds, flavors, and techniques showcased in the food and tipples preparation. It's a F&B lab with the -insert chemical process here- processes going on right before our eyes. 
Some highlights from the a la carte dishes here. The Sea ($38) is a pretty sashimi platter which layers on Hokkaido Scallop, Irish Oyster, Seaweed, Ikura, Tobiko and Ebiko on a bed of sea salted ice. It's gorgeous, but the overall flavor was a little too salty for me with all that roe, and it got fishy as well. 
The Nest ($28) is such a festive plate! Doesn't it remind of Easter? Think of this as a western chawanmushi which combines hot melted Mozzarella and  Parmiagiano-Reggiano with free-range chicken eggs. Not a fan of the smoked hay (it smelled like gym socks), but I guess that adds to the overall rustic appeal of the fish. 
A mod sushi roll which is quite fiery is the Spicy Maguro Hand-roll, The Fort [4 pcs $18 (4pcs)/ $28 (8pcs)]. The heat comes from a special Asian chili sauce added to the minced tuna, which was a bit mushy but the overall bite was quite shiok. 
This holiday, FORT by Maison Ikkoku presents a Three-Course Festive Menu (20 Nov - 31 Dec 2015) which is priced at $38/pax + $20 for 2 cocktails. This includes a surprise starter of the day, a main, and dessert.
I enjoyed the main of Holiday Turkey, comprising two succulent turkey breast medallions marinated with a mix of herbs and spices and cooked sous-vide style. So tender and juicy! Truffles have been infused into the meat and a sprinkle of cinnamon for good (holiday) measure! 
I highly recommend drinks pairing for this. The Santa Red is such a mellow  sweet cocktail with a port-like red wine reduction and perfumed with bergamot. 
To end off the dinner, the delicious Martell Cordon Bleu Lavender Crème Brûlée. Silky custard infused with the subtle lavender and a buttery caramel cognac. End the night perfectly with The Snowman, a concoction of spice rum with buttered popcorn, hazelnut and milk, which is another dessert in a cup! 
I'm definitely coming back for the super affordable 12-course Omakase for just $68/pax. Ethan definitely has many more tricks up his sleeves! 

Bespoke cocktails are priced at $18, and infusion shots at $10.

FORT by Maison Ikkoku 
5 Cox Terrace, Fort Canning Hill, Pinacotheque De Paris, S179620 
Daily: 4pm till late 

More ideas for Christmas, this time from Raffles Hotel Singapore with their line up of award-winning Raffles Grill, Long Bar Steakhouse, Tiffin Room as well as Bar & Billiard Room. 
Trio of Appetizers here- Gillardeau Oysters with lettuce, fennel bronze and Oscietra caviar from Raffles Grill; Tuna Nicoise from Tiffin Room; Foie gras with artichoke and smoked duck from Long Bar Steakhouse. Fav? The last. The foie gras terrine was very smooth.
From the Raffles Grill Christmas Menu and New Year's Eve Gala Ball, the Oxtail Consomme with scallops, heirloom beet and leek, and black truffle. Loved the light broth with robust flavors of the meat and the extraction of all that meaty sweetness. Plus those plump seared scallops were the best.
Oriole Coffee + Bar has been around in the Somerset area for a bit now but it was never a choice cafe for me until recently. With its refreshed food and beverage menu at its Pan Pacific outlet, there are now more choices for my picking!
All day breakfast FTW! I really liked the Humble Baked Egg Skillet ($16), which is a hearty mix of tender and flavorful roasted lamb stew with sweet potatoes, sous vide eggs and Emmental cheese to add on that creamy and stringy texture. They really ought to serve bread with this massive pan.
I highly recommend that you have this to share because it's really quite a huge portion. While i don't see myself having this at 8am in the morning, this is certainly perfect for brunch, or dinner.
Are you a diced or sliced chirashi-don person? Well if you are a sashimi person who don't mind some vinegared rice, i guess you would go with sliced. Well, i was that person until Aoki Restaurant, fine dining Japanese restaurant by the Les Amis Group, and they have been known to convert the hearts of many to the diced maze-chirashi style with thueir superb value for money and delicious lunch sets. 
Omakase would definitely be the best way to enjoy the Aoki experience but lunch is much easier on the wallet with sets starting from $33 and they come with salad, miso soup and dessert. Make sure you call early for a reservation.
Every established hotel needs a decent Japanese restaurant and Ginza Yoshihiro from Tokyo Japan has taken over the defunct not-so-swell outpost of Sushi Dai (also from Tokyo) at Marina Mandarin Singapore.  With over 30 years of history, Ginza Yoshihiro provides authentic Japanese cuisine in both gozen (from $32) and omakase (from $128) format, featuring selected seafood in season. Head chef Hisayuki Nishioka aka "Bob-San" helms the Singapore outlet and he was previously head sushi chef at Hide Yamamoto (Marina Bay Sands).
Other than the sushi and sashimi (fish flown in from Tsukiji thrice weekly), oden is also a specialty here. Dinner at Ginza was a surprise as I was simply told by Chef that I would be well fed. Looking at the succession of dishes that follow, you can be sure that this was an extension of their most extensive Botan set ($188).
Looking at the pretty colors of the sashimi, I knew I was in good hands.
The Christmas season has officially descended upon us and if you have not made your festive dining plans, you better NAO because all the good children do, if not they would starve so badly. Thankfully, here's your Skinnyfat Santarina and her recommendations of the St. Regis Singapore's festive menu! 
This non-turkey fan is absolutely loving the Whole Roasted Turkey (Brasserie Les Saveurs) which was better than roasted chicken (my tolerance for turkey is fairly low). This comes with buttered brussels sprouts, glazed chestnut, fried caramelised yam (which was amazing, like a preview of Chinese New Year). Slather the meat with the cranberry-orange compote or the savory Giblet gravy. 
Amuse Bouche of Slow-cooked egg with smoked salmon tartare and horseradish espuma (BLS). A well balanced spoon of saltiness coated by that creamy quail egg.
From LaBrezza, the Foie gras and Boston lobster terrine. The foie gras was amazingly soft and creamy and i was surprised it worked well with the briny sweet lobster. The sweet, sticky, and dense dates and shallots compote, bitter cocoa sauce, and lobster essence added on interesting flavors that gel the dish. Give it a shot!