Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

It's a feat to have survived the past nine years in the Singapore F&B scene and Artichoke has done it, despite being the "least authentic Middle Eastern restaurant in Singapore" (so they say). They're here to remind you that they're still alive and kicking and why you should head back or check them out if you haven't.  My my, the last time i visited was before i started blogging! Oops.
If you haven't been to Artichoke, do not go there expecting anything traditional or standard (you can go to Arab Street/ Kampong Glam for your run-of-the-mill tagine). Instead, head there for a casual night with hearty shared plates and un-ME music (the playlist is all chef-owner Bjorn's own favorites). The food uses ME ingredients as a start, but Bjorn adds on his own brand of creativity and likes to un-ME his dishes. 
The right way to start is the meal is with some mezzes and fluffy Turkish bread ($4.50). Definitely go with the Hummus with Iraqi spiced mushrooms ($14). What special about this hummus is that miso is added for that extra umami, along with the usual chickpeas, whipped creamed tahini, lemon juice and garlic. The mushrooms were seasoned in Baharat (a leavened thyme spice mixed, containing 7 spices) and sauteed with olive oil and garlic. 
I also do love the jammy Turkish eggplant ($12). The eggplant is halved and stuffed with onions and tomatoes, then confit and deep fried to turn the regular eggplant into an umami bomb. I also could not stop dipping the bread into the Beetroot Borani ($12), a sweetish beetroot cream cheese mix. If you enjoy the spicy pungent kick of garlic, the Israeli Sea asparagus ($12) is for you. The naturally salty veg is tossed in shallot oil and served with labneh (a yogurt-like cheese) and pickled garlic. It's not quite date-food material i must warn. 
Now now, i would not share the Crab Toast ($16/2pc), which is inspired by tzatziki (there's a bit of it in the mix but the crab takes center stage). I could not deal with the explosion of textures and flavors in this one- the sweetness of the Blue Swimmer crab, briny pops of Ikura, flavorful fried chicken skin and buttery pillowy brioche. Such deliciousness.
I'm not a fan of crowds (or human contact) in general and Chinese New Year is a chore for me. Have you had one of those super rushed reunion dinners at restaurants which have 3 seatings in 1 night? I mean, i already don't like people and i still gotta be hangry?? Well thankfully, there are now decent CNY takeaway meals by Goodwood Park Hotel's Min Jiang and Min Jiang at Dempsey to the rescue.
I enjoyed Min Jiang's (GWP) Joyful Abundance Yusheng ($168++/$179.75 nett, large portion only)., which is a fresh and refreshing salad with real salad leaves, alongside the tradition pickled melon strips, crushed peanuts and pine nuts, and sesame seeds. The dressing is a mix of calamansi juice, plum sauce and strawberry jam to provide a mix of acidity and fruity sweetness. Deep-fried cheesy chee cheong fan strips are used if you're dining in but are replaced by the simple but good golden crackers if you do takeaway. There're also fresh baby abalones and raw salmon. 
Follow it with a Pot of Gold ($243.95 nett for 8 pax, includes claypot), a pretty tessellation of braised pork belly alternated with creamy Australian pumpkin for a delicious bite, further adorned with Australian 6-head abalones and broccoli. 
As simple as the dish may sound, the pork belly and abalones have been separately braised in chicken stock and Chinese ham which gives it that extra umami.
Now now, this is what i'd definitely order. The Longevity noodles with baby abalones and roasted Iberico pork loin ($201.15 nett for 6 pax) is a plate that would tantalize your palate. Capellini is tossed in shallot oil, kombu, soy sauce and chives and topped with the cutest braised baby abalones and chopped chives. This is umami at its peak. The Ibérico pork is done char siew style, marinated overnight before seasoning with salt and caramelized with a house-made bbq sauce. 

Takeaways are also available at Minjiang at Dempsey. Their Yusheng is different from that at GWP ($108/$169++).  
There's nowhere else i'd head to for a good Sichuan meals but Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurants and they've introduced a variety of seafood dishes "Colours of the Sea" which is available till 12 Jan 2020 at their three outlets. TOP of UOB Plaza and PARKROYAL on Beach Road are offering special a la carte and set menus, while PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road serves a buffet. 
Did you know that Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant is pufferfish on its menu? Their fish is imported directly from Japan. Check out these cute Steamed pufferfish dumpling which is exclusively available at TOP of UOB Plaza, where you can also enjoy the rest of their delectable dimsum bites. Expect a refreshing sweetness in this dumpling.
Another must try is the Sliced pufferfish with fresh chili and sesame (right). I love the blend of spices and the sesame fragrance in this one.  
There's no such thing as regular seafood dishes at Si Chuan Dou Hua as we were wowed by the interesting combinations of flavors. In the seafood combination platter, what stood out was a crispy soft shell crab with Osmanthus sauce that all of us could not stop nibbling on due to the lingering floral taste. The salted egg fish skin was irresistible as well.
Kai Garden is one of my go to Chinese restaurants for dim sum and their very well priced and gorgeous Peking Duck! And guess what! Kai Garden has opened a new restaurant Kai Duck that focuses on innovative dishes made with their Cantonese-style Peking duck.
Their new outlet at Ngee Ann City is a modern casual restaurant that caters to smaller groups of diners. Yes, one can enjoy some glorious bird dishes even if one were alone. Oh the beauty of it! Unlike the traditional Peking style of baking the duck with fire, the duck skin used at Kai Duck is prepared by using the Cantonese method of drizzling the duck with oil after baking, to enhance the aroma and juiciness of the skin. 
We started with the Chilled Mini Tomatoes topped with Japanese Sesame Sauce ($10.80) which uses fresh Japanese cherry tomatoes marinated in a tart plum sauce, and is served with handmade squares of plum jelly. This refreshing appetizer complements the rich flavors of the other dishes. Save some for in between dishes! The plum marinade is exactly like the sauce that accompanies most roast ducks. 
One of the signatures at Kai Duck is the Peking Duck Salad Hand Roll ($4.80 ea). Think of it as a fried spring roll filled with juicy slices of Peking Duck, cucumber and lettuce, seasoned with Japanese sesame sauce and seaweed.
Sans the millenials, do you guys remember the start of the cafe wave in Singapore and how brunch was all about English Breakfasts and Eggs Benedict before it's about Smashed Avo on Toast or Soufflé pancakes? As i cut into my Instagram-perfect Eggs Benedict at The English House by Marco Pierre White and that sunset orange trickled down those pearly whites, i was reminded how the Eggs Benedict will always be an oldie but goodie. Is this what old people do? Reminisce? 

Anyhow, The English House is now serving traditional English breakfast items daily (except for Mondays) in their gorgeous colonial house. Daytime is the best time to get a good look inside the restored conservation building filled with quirky English curios and pop art, and also a touch of local kopitiam/old medical hall furniture. 
Breakfast starts with a basket of complimentary freshly baked sourdough with French butter and your choice of coffee, tea or juice. Proper yes sire.
Since i got you thinking about the Eggs Benedict ($20), here it is, the perfectly round eggs with a curtain of bright and lemony, rich and smooth hollandaise. Trust me when i say this is one of the best Egg Benedict out there currently. Of course the English got it right. The round Japanese egg sits on top of some juicy shredded Wiltshire ham, which provides a lovely saltiness to the dish. As the yolk explodes, the viscous liquid is soaked up by the pillowy muffin. DAYUMS. This reminded me why Eggs Benny is an evergreen brunch dish.
As French patisserie Antoinette bid farewell to its Mandarin Gallery outlet, its move to Millenia Walk is a warm welcome by the working crowd in the area, who gets to indulge on fresh bakes, sweet treats and savoury bites, all day everyday. 
Pick your spot, be it under the sun (i mean skylight) in the ‘al fresco’ area along the atrium, or tucked tucked away in a cosy corner in the store, and then be ready to watch the world go by for a bit. New to the Millenia Walk outlet are French-style savoury crêpes and weekday-specials, the Le Menu Petite Déjeuner (a simple breakfast menu) and Le Menu Sandwich (classic European sandwiches) that are exclusive to Millenia Walk.
For a quick grab and go, other than Antoinette’s signature Pure Butter Croissants ($3.5) and Pain Au Chocolat ($3.5), i highly recommend the Egg Muffin ($5) which is way better than MacD's FOR SURE. The housemade pork sausage patty is incredibly juicy and wholesome, with zero additives. Topped with cheddar cheese and a sunny side up, it's sandwiched between a housemade muffin which is amazingly fluffy and buttery inside and woah i love that crunchy crust it has. How is this only $5?? 
The Italian Focaccia ($8) is also an easy sandwich to eat on the go. You can't go wrong with pesto butter and cheese, plus some juicy sous vide chicken. I love the herby mix and it certainly provides a hearty start to the day. An extensive range of traditional European and Japanese-style breads are freshly stocked daily for a convenient snack at the desk too.
Something old, something new. Classical European dining experience is given a contemporary update by new Executive Chef Armando Aristarco at Tablescape, Grand Park City Hall. A flavor-first approach is taken here, with only 3 to 4 ingredients per dish, to allow each ingredient its chance to shine.
Embrace an elegant and unhurried meal starting with a selection of housemade bread and butter. There are 14 breads in rotation and the highlights include the onion, brioche, sun-dried tomato,  and cheese focaccia. The breads are glorious and they're free flow, but please be a conscious diner and not take advantage of this. We heard some ugly diners stories and their cheapskate behaviors are just so uncalled for.  
I love eggs and the Egg ($28) at Tablescape is your decadent 62 deg version topped with 24 months aged Parmigiano Reggiano fonduce, and a chocolatey Umbria black summer truffle shavings that Chef made rain over the wobbly mix. Some extra texture is provided with both sautéed and raw asparagus.
Instead of a tuna tataki, we had the Beef ($20) done in the seared tataki style but with Korean flavors to it. Australian Black Angus striploin is paired with pumpkin in two textures – cubed and pureed. It is then dressed in classic Pommery mustard and raspberry vinaigrette for a sweet-savoury flavour.
The Scallop ($20) is another refreshing cold starter, seasoned with a little fat (olive oil) and acid (lemon zest). A cucumber gazpacho with a touch of raspberry vinaigrette adds to the overall tang of the dish.
Odette is the most coveted restaurant to dine at in 2019, having toppled long time winner Gaggan to become The World's Best Restaurant in Asia, and then clinching its third Michelin star for the first time. Chef Julien Royer is surely on a winning streak. I thought Odette would stay on my must-eat list for a long time to come but Jr surprised me by getting a table for our wedding anniversary (he asked me a couple of days before so i only had to wait for 3 days to dine at Odette)!
If you're out to impress your date or celebrate a special occasion, Odette is the place to go. The walk through the historic National Gallery (it's magical and majestic at night) and into the feminine and elegant restaurant with soft hues of pink, grey and cream prepares you for an exquisite meal to come. The restaurant is named after Chef Julien's grandmother, who is also his source of inspiration for his food. The produce are sourced from specialist artisan producers across the world – from Europe to Asia and Australia. As his grandmother showed him, the most "remarkable dishes can come from the purest ingredients" and the addition of that ‘little something’ create dishes that excite the palate and fill the heart, and you can expect that experience at Odette.
Dinner was a seasonal Modern French 8-course menu ($328/pax, prices would be $358/pax starting Nov) and there's a vegetarian option available as well. We also went with the wine pairing ($245/pax) which is absolutely delightful if you are into wines.
Before the meal started, we were served with snacks as we sipped on our champagne. A fresh cumin snap peas tart, a Comte cheese cigar, and scallop taco.
Then came the bread basket with truffle brioche, sourdough, and olive roll, served with Catalunya olive oil and a whipped butter with ground buckwheat. The bread basket stayed throughout our meal despite how full we were because we simply couldn't bear to have taken away. #FOMO
It's been a year since #meetthelulus so here's a throwback! I meant to write about our Bali wedding much sooner but life took over so here it goes. If you are getting hitched and you are looking for something different from the usual hotel banquet, preferably a destination wedding, but yet super fuss free and NOT break the bank expensive, BUT also must be elegant, chill and fun, with good food of course... Well, just do what we did and head over to Tirtha Uluwatu in Bali, Indonesia. #notsponsored
Tirtha Uluwatu provides an all-in-one wedding package which takes care of everything you can think of. Wedding planner, MUA, floral, decor, f&b, accommodation, photography and videography, chapel for the ceremony, a change of venue for dinner, music and entertainment, and fireworks too! How do you think i got my wedding planned in 6 months without having to do much? All we had to do was to pick from their amazing list of partners and viola. Our bridal party also didn't have to lift a finger to do anything. We just needed to show up and look gorgeous. How's that for a wedding celebration?
I'll let the pictures do the talking. Our day started with prep at the Tirtha Glass House, a gorgeous 3BR villa where we were accorded a night's stay. It was also where we held our dinner reception. My Japanese MUA is Mami-san, and she nailed the look i wanted based on the pictures that i've sent our Tirtha wedding planner Anggie. Here's a simple braided updo with natural make-up for the day.
We chose the Glass House because it's full of greenery and a minimalist resort interior. Post-prep, we also had time to take some pictures on the grounds. 
Then it was off to the Tirtha Chapel for our ceremony. You could choose between a Christian ceremony or a Commitment ceremony.
You don't have to be in Niseko to enjoy Chef Willin Low's Mod-Sin izakaya dishes because they make an appearance every night at Relish @ Frasers Tower. In the day, enjoy Relish's classic burgers, pastas, and desserts; in the night, pick on bar bites and sharing plates over Japanese sakes and draft beers at Roketto Izakaya. Also, some of Wild Rocket's signatures are also available here! 
Warm your tummy with the Fish Collagen Broth ($5), a dairy-free but surprisingly rich and creamy soup that has extracted all the goodness from the fish bones. While it may look like a simple piece of fried fish, it's actually a homemade omu fish cake. Fish meat is mixed with egg, beaten and fried for the fluffy airy texture, similar to the typical fried egg floss at many fish soup stalls in Singapore.
Willin also likes to tease his dinners with all these Har Cheong (fermented shrimp paste) chicken dishes but he doesn't use any chicken in them. Instead, munch on a flavorful Har Cheong Pork Belly Keropok ($8.50) that is possibly the next big snack (goes perfectly with beer). The saltiness is well balanced with a refreshing Keffir lime mayonnaise.
A milder but more exotic version of the typical Har Cheong Chicken is the Har Cheong Tin Gai ($12), which features fried frog legs that have been mildly marinated in the pungent paste. It tasted like a very good fried chicken actually. Have it with the ginger flower paste and it instantly tastes like a staple on an Izakaya menu.