Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

In need of some fresh air this smoggy September! Short of going on a getaway (somewhere without the haze), i'm thinking of a mini afternoon break at InterContinental Hotel Singapore, nibbling on Chef Ben Goh's Classic Afternoon Tea. And no, you don't have to wait for the weekends to enjoy this because it's available daily at the Lobby Lounge.
This particular Classic Afternoon Tea set celebrates Chef Ben's recent win as Pastry Chef of The Year 2019, awarded by World Gourmet Summit. The sweet treats tell the story of Chef Ben's culinary journey- inspirations from his childhood (such as the buttercream cake and his grandmother's kueh lapis), and his milestone creations and award winning sweets. These are accompanied by some specially created light savory bites to balance the desserts. 
Starting with the traditional stuff, the nostalgic old school buttercream cake. I NEVER liked this style of cake because the colors look radioactive and it always has this oily Planta mouthfeel to it. Well Chef Ben's version was totally NOT that. I loved the light saltiness of the buttercream and the light sponge layers. Chef also took a leaf out of his grandmother's book for the kueh lapis and created a springy and eggy cake that wasn't too sweet. The secret ingredient is DOM Benedictine. 
My heart melted at the Peach Melba Cheesecake with the loveliest shade of pink. I mistook the exterior for a tart shell and was surprised that it was a chiffon sponge instead. It's a perfect harmony of sugar and acid in this one. 
The best thing about Chef Ben's desserts is that they are always delicate and nuanced, even with the seemingly rich stuff like chocolate. The award winning Chocolate Lemongrass Pineapple cake may look intimidating but the filling is an airy mousse that is a chocolate cloud, further lifted by the notes of lemongrass. If that doesn't lift your mood, head over to the ice cream counter and help yourself to the free flow of a creamy smooth yogurt yuzu ice cream!  
Looking for a go-to guy for authentic mexicano? Well, as the name itself suggests, El Mero Mero is exactly where you should be headed for the real deal, and i really don't mean Tex-Mex. The restaurant at CHIJMES has been serving us amigos for the past five years with solid Mexican classics and now it has taken its offerings a notch up with its refreshed menu that is designed to reflect both Mexican culinary history and its dynamic modern foodscape. 
What's Mexican food without Guacamole ($16)? The version here at El Mero Mero is made better because you can mix all the smashed avocados and condiments in yourself before smearing it on the crunchy charred tostadas. My advice? Order another side of fried masa corn chips because they are thinner and crunchier than the charred ones.
Even though the Corn sampler ($15) may look pedestrian, it certainly didn't taste so. The Cotja cheese mayo dressing made all the difference. I adore a good taramasalata and this tasted like that, except that it's sharper in flavor and also happens to be vegetarian.
The brown corn-mushroom donuts are out of this world though. It's the first time i've had Huitlacoche, a fungus (or mushrooms) that grows on the corn.
Dashi is the building block of Japanese cooking. Having experienced a dashi tasting before, i can tell you that a good dashi makes all the difference to the Japanese fine dining experience. At newly opened MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya, you can be sure that you're not getting off-the-shelf hondashi in their specialty dishes. 
Founded in 1962, Marusaya is an established wholesaler of Japanese katsuobushi (dried bonito). The company takes pride in its Satsuma 2-year-old hongare-honbushi, made from skipjack tuna which is dried and fermented over two years. This is unlike other katsuobushi, which is fermented only over a year. The extended fermentation is what brings out the umami in the fish. Together with the Rishiri kelp (a best in class Hokkaido seaweed), it produces a golden broth that is elegant and smoky. 
The restaurant features dishes that play to the best of their katsuobushi- think shabu-shabu (hot pot), toban yaki (hot plate) and donabe (claypot). What's best? The insanely affordable prices especially during lunch.
Sets start from $29 and include a variety of sides: chawanmushi and miso soup with seasonal toppings, bonito flakes (more like slices) that are perfect beer snacks, and flavourful claypot rice cooked with dashi. I could eat the rice on its own but it's even better with the accompanying condiments that are wasabi-flavoured konbu, premium ikura and Japanese pickles.
Shabu-shabu sets include either the US Black Angus Beef ($29) or the Hokkaido Pork Loin ($29).  Both were great but i preferred the fluffy texture of the beef. The sets are accompanied by fresh seasonal vegetables as well as two house dips – dashi ponzu and sesame.
Have a taste of the vast rolling Basque Country right here at the lush Telok Blangah, at the transformed Alkaff Mansion. In partnership with Basqvium, keeper, curator and tireless advocate of Basque cuisine and culture both in and outside Spain, you will experience every facet of Basque culture and cuisine at the restaurants in Alkaff Mansion- TXA and UNA.
Gone were the claustrophobic and stuffy spaces. Stepping into the mansion, you'd be greeted by the chic open bar/kitchen by TXA. Pintxos (pronounced pin-chos) are served on the open counters, like how they do in the North of Spain. Traditionally, these small bites are skewered onto pieces of bread as pre-meal snacks to be enjoyed with a beer or a glass of wine in a bar before lunch or dinner. At TXA, you get an elevated experience with a mix of bites and other sophisticated plates of morsels. created by Basque chefs Marta Elvira Segalés and Silvana Pascual Romero.
Open your palate to the Basque flavors with the Aceituna Rellena De Vermouth ($2.90), an olive stuffed with vermouth jelly and orange zest, topped with fennel flower. It'll activate your taste buds for the crunchy Crudiente de Jamon ($5) which layers umami Iberico and smoked cod roe sauce between buttery pastry sheets.
If you're a fan of peppers, there are many peppers pintxos at TXA and truth be told, i could hardly tell the difference since they use a variety of peppers with a mix of fish (mostly anchovies and some tuna). Take your pick from the Pintxo Igeldo ($6.90), Boquerones con piperrada ($3.90) and the Piquillos Rellenos de Brandada ($4). My favorite of the lot would be the last, which reminded me of Portugal somehow due to the use of Bacalao (salted cod fish). I do prefer a hot dish as well instead of cold bites but that's a personal preference.
Peranakan matriarch Violet Oon is unstoppable. Was it only earlier this year when we dined at her newest outlet at Ion Orchard (read review here) and now she has gone on to open an even bigger restaurant at the iconic JEWEL Changi Airport? The JEWEL outlet is the group’s biggest (3,800 square feet) outlet to date, and as per every VO restaurant, it has its own specials!
Special to JEWEL, guests can get their hands finger-licking good with Violet's Fold-It-Yourself Family-style Poh Piah Party ($58). While the price may seem pretty steep for a poh piah set that makes 6 rice flour rolls, you'd understand why when you dig into the rich bamboo shoot and jicama stew that has been braised in a house-made prawn bisque and Fujian bean paste. The feast of sauces and condiments like Chinese sausage, steamed prawns, ground and deep fried garlic, and dried sole fish, add a variety of textures and flavors to each bite of the roll. There's also a vegetarian version which goes at $56.
VO JEWEL also specialises in grilled dishes. We enjoyed the Ayam Panggang Katong which comes in a quarter or half a chicken ($16/25), and is plump and juicy. The lightly spiced chicken is brushed with gula melaka and grilled for a nutty sweetness. It is accompanied with some sour and piquant atchara (pickled vegetables) and VO signature chili sauce.
Never one to say no to a refreshing mango salad, i found that the Mango Kerabu with Ikan Bilis ($10) a great side for the grilled chicken. What makes this sour salad different is the touch of pink ginger flowers tossed in with a sweet and sour plum and chilli infused sauce. If you can take spice, the BBQ Eggplant with Sambal ($13) is topped with green sambal hijau and spicy Goreng Chilli sambal. These would have you eating lots of plain rice to numb the heat. My preferred vegetable dish is the Sayur Paku Gulai ($16), a sweet Fiddlehead fern served on a bed of coconut-spiced gulai sauce.
The first Shangri-La hotel, the first Shang Palace. Since 1971, both hotel and restaurant has been making history, from our little red dot, to the rest of the world. 
At the restaurant’s helm is Chef Mok Kit Keung, who has 40 good years of cooking under his belt (he started when he was only 13). Chef Mok is the one who brought Shang Palace Kowloon to its second Michelin star in 2011 and we think there's a high chance he may clinch a star (or two) for Shang Palace Singapore. Expect an extensive menu (or menus), ranging from traditional nostalgia, classic signatures, and innovative new dishes by Chef.
Taste the flavors of the good old days with Chef Mok's heritage dishes. Preparation of these heritage dishes is often painstaking, time- consuming and intricate, which explains why they are hard to find these days.
Take the Boneless quail filled with bird’s best in supreme Broth ($98/portion) for example, the tiny bird had all its bones removed, leaving the delicate flesh and skin intact to be filled with 40g of bird's nest. The supreme broth is also cooked for 8 hours using chicken, pork, and Jinhua ham to coax maximum flavour. If you think about all the work and premium ingredients that went into the dish, you'd understand why the dish is value for money. 
The Deep-fried crab meat, coriander and pork fritter 金钱蟹盒 ($36/6pcs) may look like a regular fried wanton, but the skin is actually hand-sliced pieces of pork fat (they're sliced so thinly that they're translucent). The skin wraps a mixture of Sri Lankan crab meat, mushrooms, Chinese coriander and bamboo shoots, forming a "coin" which is then deep fried till crispy. I loved how wonderfully juicy each bite was. 

Our favorite wood-fired bakehouse Firebake has launched a refreshed lunch menu and also more new items to tantalize our taste buds! In its latest dishes, Firebake goes ‘back to basics’, offering quality bakes that reach out to childhood memories and comfort. 
My childhood would have been a lot more awesome if i've had something like the Firebake Tartine ($18 for full portion – available for brunch & lunch), an open-faced sandwich featuring a slice of Seedy sourdough. 
The Seedy is my favorite loaf at Firebake. Made with organic wholemeal with toasted sesame and pumpkin seeds, each bite is full of nutty crunch and fragrance. The toppings vary from time to time, and i had a slice topped with avocado, sauteed mushrooms, feta, pickled pistachio and cress. This is bound to satisfy any brunchy cravings!
Forget the Shake Shack queue guys and check out the Firebake Wagyu Cheese Burger ($18 – available for brunch & lunch). The fluffy house-baked wood-fired sourdough potato buns sandwich a juicy medium-done Australian Wagyu patty (with the perfect balance of lean and fatty mince). Hidden between the layer of meat, bun and melted cheddar are more umami surprises- an extra pat of butter, Grana Padano parmesan and -drumrolls- a thick tomato-based beef sauce created by Firebake’s founder, Konstantino Blokbergen. This sauce is inspired by the traditional Greek pastitsada stew and boy that really changes everything. 
Another new favorite for me is the Grilled Argentinian Striploin ($28 – available all day) which is topped with a refreshing and vibrant salsa verde. Argentinian steaks are known for their intensely flavorful profile and this 220g lean steak is no different. The beef is grilled to medium over Firebake’s traditional wood stove and served over a slice of rye bread. Absolutely rustic way to enjoy the slab.
How about brunching like the French this Sunday? Think alfresco dining on French classics, right next to the riverside. Les Bouchons Rive Gauche at Robertson Quay will provide that experience with their new 'Bouchons Riviera Brunch' menu that is designed by Head Chef Mickael Cornac. With 30 newly created all-time brunch favourites a selection of their signatures, you'd be spoilt for choice. 
Start with something refreshing, like the Riviera Wellness Bowl ($18) which is packed with granola, honey yoghurt, goji berries, banana, strawberries and chia seeds. The strawberries have been cooked in balsamic vinegar for an extra tang. Order this to share as a starter, or for desserts even. 
Other starters include the classic Eggs Mimosa ($14) and the Escargots De Bourgogne ($16). The eggs mimosa may sound very simple but if you only tried making it yourself, you'd know that it's a lot of work to cream those yolks. The Burgundy snails were shelled and cooked in a refreshing pesto, which made them perfectly easy to eat with the crusty warm bread buns. 
History has it that the concept of Sunday brunch came about as a means to overcome a British author’s own hangover from the night before about 120 years ago. As a homage to this, the ‘Bouchons Riviera Brunch’ menu features the Gueule de Bois ($24) or more commonly referred to as the Bouchons Hangover Cure. But hang on, it's served with “Impossible” meatballs, scrambled eggs with truffle oil, sautéed porcini mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes and asparagus on a toasted sourdough bread. Talk about hearty and healthy hangover food! The portions are massive btw!

There's a rotating Bouchons Sunday Roast ($32) served with mushroom sauce and roasted baby potatoes and the roast changes weekly. We had roast lamb which has been marinated with capers, anchovies, mint and paprika. I didn't quite enjoy the powdery lamb but the mushroom sauce was a perfect earthy creaminess. I would drink the sauce as a soup.
A safer bet would the Bouchons' signature steak frites! The Grilled Black Angus Rib Eye Steak ($39.80) is served with vigneron butter, mixed salad and free flow homemade french fries! The tender red meat was perfect with the butter but you can also flavor your meat with their their house-made condiments such as bearnaise and mayonnaise. I loved the intense potato flavor and the crispy edges of the fries. 

For desserts, if you still have space that is, the Chocolate Brownie "Fait Maison" ($10) cannot be missed. A 66% Valrhona chocolate is used to give it a rich intensity. I liked that it wasn't too sweet. 
French crepes with choice of sugar, Nutella, banana or honey ($8) are also available. 

Complementing its food menu, diners can experience brunch with a cocktail or champagne from the exclusive boutique collection of Champagne Jean Vesselle

I'd recommend steak for Sunday brunch at Les Bouchons anytime, but pick a good day with cooler weather though!
60 Robertson Quay, #01-02, Singapore 238252
Tel: +65 6733 4414
Sunday Brunch: 11.30am - 3.30pm 
The best way to experience Singapore is through its food imho. Honestly there's nothing much to do in Singapore other than to eat really. Park Regis Singapore is currently offering guests their #sginsiders trail which takes them on a walking heritage food tour around Chinatown from now till Oct 2019. Put on your walking shoes and make sure you hit the ground running hungry. Every Saturday at 9.30am, the walking tour brings guests to four famous homegrown food spots, all within a short walk from Park Regis. 
The tour starts off at Hong Lim Market and Food Centre, where we had the local Singaporean breakfast set of kaya toast and a cup of ‘kopi or teh’ (local coffee or tea). While kaya toast isn't anything special to locals (we get Yakun toast everywhere), the experience was quite nostalgic. Seriously when was the last time you actually had toast at the hawker center? Also, we got to try the Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff (#02-36). This stall has been around for decades and they've been hand making their crunchy puffs for decades now. Expect crunchy flaky puffs stuffed with a variety of fillings such as chicken, sardine and otah. 
I was super excited about the second stop, which is the 83-year-old Cantonese pastry shop, Tong Heng! Before egg tarts were made trendy by foreign imports from Hong Kong i.e. Honolulu and Tai Cheong, Tong Heng was already serving their famous diamond-shaped egg tarts. The egg to tart ratio is extremely high and i'm always amazed at how that thin crust could hold up the wobbly custard. Escape the hot Singapore weather and enjoy the piping hot and crispy egg tart in Tong Heng's air-conditioned space. Yes you can dine-in at Tong Heng now! Other than egg tarts, there are also other traditional bakes like char siew sor, wives' biscuit etc. 
A newer and better Min Jiang has opened at Dempsey! The move from their Rochester Park home of 12 years is a step forward for the group and it is certainly a refreshing departure. The timber interior of the main dining hall, and the choice of materials in the furniture are at perfect harmony with the lush and teeming greenery surroundings. Stepping into the space, i immediately felt peace and lightness, much of it attributed to the airy, light-filled place, enhanced with soothing color palette of gold and green.
Min Jiang at Dempsey not only sees a new design concept, but diners can expect a whole new menu by Master Chef Goh Chee Kong, who has devoted more than half of his 32-year career to Min Jiang. The menu presents familiar flavors of Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines in a contemporary presentation.
Intricate handmade dimsum creations are available for lunch daily. The Steamed ‘Goldfish’ Prawn Dumpling ($4.80/pc) ‘swimming’ in a delicate egg white sauce was too pretty to be eaten. The house-made crystal dumpling skin fell apart with a light tug, revealing a succulent prawn filling. The experience was enhanced with the contrasting pops of the tobiko and the smooth chinese ham and chicken stock broth further.  
If you're dining alone or with a partner, the Deluxe Dim Sum Platter ($38) is perfect as it features 4 pairs of bites, each with different flavors and textures. The Steamed Blue Pea Truffle Vegetable Dumpling is visually stunning and conceals a variety of textures- from the crunch of root vegetables, to the slippery strands of mung bean noodles. A baby stingray holds crabmeat, prawn and vegetable dumpling in its belly, while the scallop dumpling protected its delicate insides with its crystal dumpling skin. I would not have considered glutinous rice suitable for deep frying but Chef has wrapped the flavorful steamed sticky rice in a glutinous rice flour dough before frying them to golden buttery perfection.  This was absolutely delightful.