Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Percolate Coffee has been around in the East for a bit but the location at the fringe of the Bedok heartland was and still is a deterrence to repeated visits. But upon word that they make a mean cuppa with the Nylon coffee beans in the east, i dragged myself out to this sleepy corner of Singapore for a couple of shots to regain my sanity. 
The cozy shop accommodates about 30 pax, which would actually be a squeeze already. It's not a place to linger for long over brunch, since they also don't do large plates. So far i've been lucky to be able to hang around for a bit over coffee and some bites.
I had Nylon's Four Chairs blend here the last time and it was well balanced and smooth with a nutty and fruity note ($4.50 for 5oz). On my second visit, it was changed to the Lucky Stars blend (for CNY), which was milder and lighter. I always go for Nylon over Papa Palheta (also offered here), as the latter tends to be too acidic for me. Filter coffee is also available here. 
If you like croissants, then you cannot miss these from B.A.O. Christophe makes one of the best flaky and buttery French croissants in Singapore (from $3.50). Go with the classic Butter ones on its own or have it as a sandwich (from $7). And if you see the Chocolate Almond ($4.50), JUST GRAB IT. The localized Pandan Kaya Gula Melaka one didn't rock my socks though. 
Percolate also has one of the most amazing Banana Date bread that i've tasted. I have a feeling it's from the Muffinry (Drury Lane gets it from there too). For something fancier, get the breakfast loaf version shown above ($8) with mascarpone, berries, crushed almond and Hunters' Kitchenette Almond Nut Butter. 
For something slightly bigger, the Tom Yum Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta ($10) isn't a bad option with tender chicken chunks coated in a punchy  and salty tom yum mayonnaise sauce sandwiched in a fluffy ciabatta. It's a little salty and i found myself reaching for more water than I usually do after.
Percolate is a lovely spot that I'd go back to again and again, if I'm in the East that is. Worth a visit if you're around. 

136 Bedok North Avenue 3 #01-152 Singapore 460136
Mon: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm
Wed – Fri: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 9:30 pm
Don't cry for Meat Argentina. The truth is... Argentinean cuisine is more than just meat. In fact over at Bochinche, chef Diego Jacquet will expose you to the bold Argentinean flavors with quality seafood, cheese, and greens, other than meats.
The ideal start to a night includes a round of drinks with with the small plates. With the daily Happy Hour on from 5.30 - 7.30pm (wines and cocktails go for $10), you know dinner is off to a good start. Go with the refreshing Mr Hendricks ($19), a classic lemony cucumber cocktail; or shake things up a little with Spicy Lolita ($19) made using a house spiced vodka. Argentinean wines are available too and I highly recommended the smooth and full bodied Cadena 2012 Mendoza Malbec.
Be there on Wednesdays at HH and you'll get the delicious Provoleta with Almond and Oregano honey ($17) free with 1 HH drink! You know where you'll find me on Wednesdays!
That salty sweet baked cheese is best complemented with the Iberico Cold Cuts ($22) which have been cured for 30 months (my favorite is the lomo). I would also have some of Chef's special salted butter (which he makes in small batches each day). If you miss that, the olive oil is amazing too with the Rosemary focaccia and ham.
I'm a crazy bagel fan. I'd have one (or two) a day every time i'm in NYC (it's my post yoga breakfast staple). I even signed up for bagel baking classes just so that i can make my own (i still haven't though) because nothing in Singapore satisfies my craving. Well Sacha & Sons does a decent one but there is only 1 option (sesame, with garlic herb schmear). I've been meaning to try Two Men Bagels for the longest time, upon word that freshly baked hand-rolled doughs are done here. While the lucky CBD folks get to wake to these babies, the sad me had way too many missed opportunities to taste these until recently. 
The hidden spot in ICON Village was hard to find (look for Cold Storage) but we followed the smell of freshly baked dough to get to this hole in the wall, where we were greeted by the sight of these rounds behind the glass walled kitchen. Other than bagels (plain/flavored) with cream cheeses, they also have the more elaborate bagelwiches which make for a heartier lunch option.
To determine the quality of the bagel, i had to order them on their own. Bagels are priced from $2.60 onwards. I went with the Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Walnut and Raisin Cream Cheese ($4.50) because sweet is always logical with a latte.
Well well. Knock knock. The crust was more like a shell, with a slightly blistered crust all around. It was too hard (mind you i'm comparing them to the NYC ones). Plus the dough was a little thin, thus it lacked that nice doughy chew. Flavor wise, it was also kind of strange, with an alkaline aftertaste, possibly due to the almost pretzel like shell. Perhaps i should have stuck with the regular cream cheese because the walnut raisin one was kind of grainy instead of rich creamy and the amount was so little! URGH. #spoiltbynyc Next time, i may just go with the Plain Cream Cheese and Berries Jelly but honestly they need to have more cheese on these.
Like I said I would, I headed back to Kai Garden for their Dimsum because that Pan Fried Charcoal Pork Bun ($6.80 for 3pcs) induced tears of joy when I first sampled it. Oh and that Peking Duck is another tear jerker (read my previous Kai Garden review here).
Dimsum is available every afternoon, along with their a la carte dishes and set lunches. Despite the generally dead crowd in Marina Square, Kai Garden was packed with dimsum loving people dining in the natural light washed dining hall with a view of the Marina area.
I like to start my dimsum meal with some steamed goodness and the Steamed Cheong-fun with prawns and chives ($7.80) awakened our palates with succulent prawns wrapped in the fluffy rice flour rolls, doused with a light sweet soy.
The Steamed Prawn Dumpling ($6.50 for 4pcs) is often used to determine the standard of dimsum at any Chinese restaurant and as far as this goes, i was very happy. The chunky prawns and sweet seafood broth were held perfectly in that translucent skin. Give the Steamed Scallop Dumpling with Abalone ($9.80) a miss unless you are into super bland dumplings that well.. don't taste much of anything.
I love my traditional Cantonese carrot cake and this Wok-Fried Carrot Cake in X.O. sauce ($9.80) was super addictive. It's even better when you eat it with the housemade chili paste. 
Something special to order at Kai Garden is the Pan-fried Pork Dumpling ($8.80 for 4pcs) 烧卖. These are giant bites of chunky minced pork topped with ebiko. Honestly i would go with steamed because the wanton skin isn't exactly best prepared pan fried and the crust turned out to be a little dry. Well i guess maybe the photo opp makes up for it? Hur.
Chef does the char siew super well btw. The dark charred honey BBQ meat had gorgeous layers of rendered fats, plus the meat was simply tender! Is this the best char siew in Singapore??! 
I also cannot stop raving about the stellar Baked BBQ Honey Pork Pastry ($5.60 for 3pcs) 叉烧酥. That buttery pastry was so thin, flaky, and crunchy, which I found unbelievably good! Of course, it was packed with all the char siew (less fats in this one). It's been a while since i last had such delicious char siew sor. 
If you need something to warm your belly, have the umami Double-boiled Lobster Soup with Dumpling ($14.80).
On to the sweets! Make space for the Mini Egg Tarts ($4.80 for 3pcs)! This super wobbly egg pudding sits within a thin crispy pastry shell which is almost a shortcrust. Yummy!
Kai Garden's other sweet dimsum signature is the Steamed Custard Bun ($5.80 for 4pcs) or Liu Sha Bao. I liked the viscosity of the golden lava but found it to be a tad sweet. Balance that and up the notch of the saltiness and this would be a bigger hit.
My other sweet favorites include the Chilled Aloe Vera and Lemongrass Jelly ($6.80) and Chilled Coconut Puree ($6.80). Both of them provide a cold and refreshing end to the meal. 
Kai Garden is a great addition to my dimsum list with some really stellar hits that i would die for. Will definitely be back!

Kai Garden
#03-128A/B Marina Square
Raffles Boulevard Singapore 039594
Weekdays: 11.30am - 3.30pm, 6 - 11pm
Weekends & PH: 11am - 4pm
Tian Fu Tea Room is my secret afternoon high tea dimsum spot. It's always an oasis of calm and serenity, perfect for contemplation and small talk over perfectly crafted nibbles paired with excellent Chinese teas. Of course, feel free to let your inner Chinese scholar/poet come out to play (we couldn't resist giving our best shot at some calligraphy).
There are 3 Tian Fu Tea Rooms at the PARKROYAL Hotels at Beach Road, Top of UOB Plaza, and Kitchener Road, each serving slightly different versions of the high tea. During this CNY period from now till 22 Feb 2016, a special Imperial Reunion High Tea is served from 2.30pm - 6pm daily for $38/pax (usual $30/pax). During this period, diners will enjoy an individual portion of Yusheng (yes even if you dine alone), with 9 other light bites (including a rice/noodle dish). Beach Road and Top of UOB plaza serves the crunchy and refreshing Prosperity Salmon Yusheng with crispy fish skin while Kitchener Road serves a Premium Black Truffle Yusheng!
Fine Chinese teas are paired with the dishes. We started with the Bai Mu Dan (White Tea) and then moved on to the Bi Tan Piao Xue (Flower Tea) with our spicier Sichuan dishes at the Beach Road outlet.
I really love the Chong Qing Chicken with Spicy Bean Paste! The ma la chili really whets the appetite and packs a punch. The Chilled Sliced Duck wrapped with Salted Egg helped to balance that spiciness but honestly you don't taste much of the duck.  
Some steamed dimsum bites with the chunky Sliced Prawn in Black Bean Sauce and Steamed Fish Balls with Black Moss, both of which I thought were well made but on the bland side. Somehow they were missing the fresh seafood flavor as the fish paste used in both were a little starchy.
We loved the Pan-fried Glutinous Pancake with Minced Camphor Tea Smoked Duck. This was an expected savory mochi with a dark saucy minced duck filling. 
Behold the paper thin crispy layers of pastry! Give me more of that Deep-fried Radish Puff with Dried Scallop. I was mind blown by how that thin puff could hold all that juicy disintegrated radish. We followed the fried dishes with a Dong Ding Wu Long (Oolong Tea), which is said to cleanse our palate (not that the dishes were any oily).
As much as i tried to avoid carbs, i finished every single grain of the fluffy and fragrant Fried Rice with Waxed Meat and Matsutake Mushrooms. This was amazingly good as the rice seemed more steamed than stir fried actually and had the lingering earthy scent of the lotus leaf and prized Matsutake mushrooms.
I'm a new fan of fried nian gao and Tian Fu Tea Room's version in a flaky and crunchy Honey Glazed Pastry Puff was a stellar rendition of this traditional sweet. 
We've had way many Liu Sha Baos but this was the first super deep-fried one in a slightly mochi like skin. It was artery-cloggingly delicious but we had to drain some of the oil out of the one for fear of a heart attack while finishing this.

If you're up for more traditional dimsum sort, you may want to check out the Kitchener and UOB Plaza outlets. There is the ongoing UOB card promotion- 1 dines free with 3 paying guests. Time to get your lo hei going!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591
Tel: +65 6428 3170

PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road
181 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208533
Tel: +65 6428 3170

TOP of UOB Plaza
80 Raffles Place #60-01, UOB Plaza 1, Singapore 048624
Tel: +65 6535 6006

Daily: 11.30am - 10.30pm
High Tea: 2:30 - 6:30pm
Farther off Robertson Quay is Rodyk Street, which was for a bit, a hipster spot (thanks to Toby's Estate). Even though i used to frequent this spot, i've not noticed Verre, formerly a wine bar hidden behind dark and heavy drapes. Thankfully, after a relaunch, Verre Modern Bistro and Wine Bar has lost all that darkness and brought light, and great food to its mix. 
The new direction cannot be a better choice really. With their expertise in wine (they have over 750 labels of fine wine mainly from Bordeaux and Burgundy), Verre is able to provide great pairings with their Modern French dishes created by Chef Consultant Masashi Horiuchi (who also manages Shelter in the Woods). We had an extensive night of food and wine pairings, something easily done since one could have over 30 wines by the glass with your food choice.
A good start to a meal at Verre would be the creamy Chicken Liver Parfait ($24) paired with a reduction of port wine, madeira wine shallot, balanced with a tangy mandarin orange jelly and a dehydrated honeycomb-like mandarin orange. This was paired with a dry lemon lime Paringa Estate Riesling 2012 ($19.50). 
The Half Lobster Salad ($38) features a sweet Maine lobster cooked in court bouillon, with a creamy guacamole and a refreshing calamansi and honey dressing. I would order this dish for the sweet and tangy dressing! The wine pairing was the Stick Chardonnay 2013 ($18) with flavors of grapefruit, white peach, citrus and oak spice.
I enjoy fine dining, dishes plated like art, and deep conversations over a good red. But sometimes, raucous-energetic-casual is the perfect way to let loose and unwind, with small plates and bites, plus tipples (always). Missing the open air Fukuoka yatais and smoky izakayas in Nagoya, we headed to Uma Uma at its latest location on the Japanese Food Street at Millenia Walk. Here, we kicked back with grilled Yakitori and Kushikatsu,  cocktails and drinks by Horse’s Mouth and Hakata-styled ramen from Uma Uma Ramen.
It really felt like we walked into a Hakata izakaya at Uma Uma, with its slightly crampish seating, long bar/ramen counter and warm Japanese hospitality. Orders were placed swiftly, so that the a la minute sticks with homemade sauces (created by Head Chef, Shota Kaneko) would arrive quickly.  
Ingredients are imported twice weekly from Japan and the quality is best presented through grilling. My favorite Yakitori sticks are the Tsukune (chicken balls with soft bone) which was juicy with some crunch! All resolve to eat healthy will obliterate with a stick (or 2) of that crispy and sweet grilled chicken skin! How did i resist this for so long?! The Butabura (Pork Belly) and chicken thigh were a tad dry-ish and bland for my liking. And obviously I'm not a fan the bland soft bone. All Yakitori sticks are priced between $2 - 3 each.
If you're young and strong and are in for some fun and play in your yoga practice, then Vikasa Yoga Retreat Koh Samui will be perfect for you. This cliff side 'resort' will give you a stair master workout, which i think is great for that perky butt (werk it girls and boys) but may be pretty straining for some but hey, that's why you're going to a retreat right? 
After focusing on my Ashtanga practice for a week at Samahita Retreat (read review here), i shifted over to Vikasa Yoga Retreat (because i didn't want to leave Samui and so i extended my stay). Vikasa is a depart from the quietness that is Samahita. Read on to find out the difference. 
A quick run down on how to get to Vikasa Yoga and what to do. 
Step 1: Book a room
Morning Ashtanga self practice instead of Meditation class
Vikasa is an all inclusive yoga retreat, which means that you only need to pick your choice of accommodation, and you'll get access to all the group yoga classes conducted, facilities, and 2 daily buffet meals. Creatures of comfort should go with the Superior Ocean View Rooms (the ones facing the pool, near the Big Shala, are the best). Also, they are slightly nearer to the top, which means slightly fewer steps, but it guarantees you a nice ass still. Somehow i didn't book that one and i ended up in a less inferior standard Ocean Room (with balcony and semi outdoor shower). BAH. 
My semi outdoor shower, which i shared with my pet lizard which terrorized me every night. Where is the bathtub that i was promised?! 
The Zen bungalows
The Beach Bungalows are kinda really far out and i think the steps are pretty jagged and dangerous especially when navigating around at night. If you're a fan of A Bug's Life, then the Zen Bungalow would be your thing. College backpacker type can go for the Yoga Caves, which are essentially cubes with shared shower facilities. 

Step 2: Go for yoga classes
With 4- 5 classes a day which includes a meditation class every morning and a mix of powerful vinyasa and restorative yin kind of classes, there will be a class suitable for any yogi, from first timers to more advanced practitioners. I enjoyed the guided practice after all that Mysore at Samahita (though i did continue with my own Ashtanga practice on top of the Vikasa classes). Manduka mats are provided at each of the 3 outdoor shalas and they're pretty new and clean (yogis clean them using sanitizing spray after every class). Be covered in strong insect repellent or let the mosquitoes test your yogic concentration. Oh they bit through my Liquido leggings. Yea. If you're looking at becoming a yoga teacher, Vikasa provides a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification. The crowd? It's mostly 20ish Caucasians looking to have fun, and maybe some purpose in life. 
Teachers wise, George and Alisa were great! Both are strong teachers and give tough classes but both are friendly, positive and humble. I was amazed at myself for completing the effortless transition from bhujanbikasana, flying crane, to bakasana, held it there and then jump back to chaturanga during the Vikasa class with Alisa. 
George also does a really fun acro yoga class if you managed to try it. I certainly had fun being spun around. It's all about building trust here- trust that your base doesn't drop you, and that your spotters will catch you when you do. For an interesting class, try Simon, a trippy yin yoga dude with a British sense of humor. Sergio did a great guided meditation and i felt myself focusing despite my horrible attention span. 
Step 3: Eat
I was rewarded with healthy tasting food at breakfast and dinner (both included in the per night price). Buffet style is done here and maybe i did overeat a little but hey, it's all vegetables and clean stuff which were mostly vegetarian with vegan options. 
Breakfast favorites were the muesli, chia seed pudding, mashed pumpkin (because i love), crepes with some of that yummy maca chocolate sauce. 
Dinner is a huge amazing spread with 1 seafood (fish/squid) option and 1 serving of dessert (they dont't give seconds). I could not resist that zucchini noodles with pesto sauce, edamame beans, thai stir fry zucchinis and the sourish cold rice vermiceilli. Be prepared to eat very well. 
Between meals, if you feel snacky, the Vikasa cafe is a great place to lounge and grab some juices, smoothies, and energy balls (those were amazing). Fuller options like burritos, salads, and Thai food are available too. 
Step 4: Chill
There may not be a nice flat sandy beach, but you can lie on the flat rocks if you want to. The view is quite spectacular and it's possible to swim (if you're a strong swimmer). That or laze by the gorgeous infinity pool. You know it's the perfect place to strike your yoga pose in that IG photo because they even have blocks for you to balance on. Yea...
The spa is pretty amazing too with great ocean views by its cliff side location. It's super private as well. I enjoyed my Deep Tissue massage and they even have a special Thai Yoga Massage created specially for yogis. 
Step 5: Repeat
I can definitely do this all day err day man. Of course, you can also get out of the retreat to one of those night markets, just so you can say that you actually visited Koh Samui. The convenient location of Vikasa makes it easy to get to Lamai or Chawang Beach on a tuk tuk or taxi. 

A tip for you on getting to and from Vikasa from the airport. The taxi/minivan service (approx THB200/way) is much cheaper than the Vikasa transport (THB500/way) so you may want to consider that if the timing is right. 
Friends have asked which yoga retreat i preferred. Well.. I liked both actually so it really depends on whether you prefer variety (Vikasa) or serenity (and the punishing Ashtanga- Samahita). But whatever it is, Koh Samui is definitely another yogi heaven.

211 Bontji Moo 4 Koh Samui 84310, Thailand
Phone:+66 77 422 232