Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Had a serious bout of Japanese food craving after being away for 3 weeks. It's not that there isn't Japanese food in NYC (Nobu was fantabulous), but there isn't many options for good tasting and affordable Japanese fare unlike in Singapore. So for my birthday, i insisted on having Japanese food.

S wanted to bring me to Akane but he didn't make a reservation and we were turned away at the guard house (they claimed it was only for Association members!). The fast thinking me directed him to Dempsey's Rakuichi. Heard from my friends that it's not easy to get a table at the Far East Shopping Center outlet, which is quite booked but no such issues with the one at Dempsey. If you like your sashimi and Aburi sushi, this is really a place to visit.
Small eaters we are so it was a mini course ($48), Zaru soba and California handroll for sharing between the 2 of us. 
To start off the Mini course, we had the fried river shrimp, tamago and edamame. The shrimps could be more crispy in order to be eaten whole. I'm quite particular about this as i have this phobia of the shell puncturing my mouth. The egg was pre-prepared and commercial ie sushi chain quality.
We moved to the counter as the walk in section had one too many mosquitoes. The other section was already reserved so we had no other place to go. But that gave us a vantage point of all the fresh seafood on display. Oyster lovers would be glad to know that the ones served here are ginormous. 
Rakuichi serves quality and fresh sashimi without breaking the bank. Love the buttery and smooth texture of the fish, indicative of fresh and not frozen fishes.

They are served with freshly grated wasabi, which IMO is a indicator of a quality Japanese restaurant. California roll was an a la carte order. 
Skewers of the day included pork belly, salmon and yakitori. Each stick was nicely flavored accordingly to complement the different meats. Love the side of sugar roasted sweet potato! 
The Deep fried salmon was a little of a disappointment. I guess salmon should never be wasted in the deep fryer. This was dry and tasteless even with the mayonnaise. 
Highlight of the meal has got to be the Aburi platter. The meat was simply sublime and each piece was drizzled in a different cream/miso sauce. Perfect torching technique as i've previously highlighted in my Kaiho Sushi review. The kita-komachi rice, one of the best rice in Japan, accompanies the fish, adding that light vinegarish and sweet dimension. The little charred spots bring in some smokiness too.
Zaru Soba was of the right springiness, definitely better than the top of the chain stores ie Sushi Tei. 
The Fish head miso soup in hot pot wasn't too fishy (me and my quirks). Just the right amount of sweetness from the seafood to go with the umami miso. Very comforting.

Glad i've tried Rakuichi. Another addition to my quality Japanese restaurants that don't burn your pocket list. (Read about them here, here and here) You simply gotta have their Aburi Sushi and Sashimi for sure. Enjoy!

10 Dempsey Road, #01-22
Tel: +65 6474 2143
Daily: 11.30am - 2.30pm; 6 - 10pm

Other locations:
Far East Shopping Centre
Hotel Oasia 
Greenwich V
Back from my 3 week long escapade to the Big Apple and Cuba. More updates on that soon (i hope). 

Here's a short addition to my Do Not Eat list till i get over my jetlag and lose this food baby of mine. Donna Carmela, an Italian restaurant at Greenwood Avenue, is a restaurant that my friends and i would never visit again. 

What killed it was the expectation that it sets (authentic Italian) and how miserably it does in achieving it (exceptionally slow and bad service). 
The dining area is quite decent and cosy and they appear to have an extensive wine selection. Prices seemed very reasonable with their prix fixe set lunch (even on a weekend), a 3 course with tea/coffee set us back by only $25 (can't remember the exact price) and i like that they have a wide variety of options. Well, that's till our food actually arrived. And that took forever. 
What we don't get is how a simple dish like parma ham with melon could take a good 20 minutes to prepare when there was no one in the restaurant other than our party of 12. 

We could hardly tell the difference between a cream of mushroom and a cream of chicken. Plus it tasted worse than a diluted can of Campbell. 
Average beef carpaccio. It was another long wait between our appetizers and main course despite us reminding our server time and time again as my gf had to leave earlier for a work appointment. We also noticed that some expatriate guests who came in later than us actually got their food before we did. Double standard service is absolutely intolerable. What made the long wait worse was the meh food that came after.
Seafood pasta with seafood that's not fresh. 
Pretty tasteless pasta that's supposed to come with some meat/meatballs. In this case they were quite nonexistent, if you could spot them. I can cook better pasta than this, seriously.
The best bet would probably be the pizza. It's not the best around, it's probably average but certainly it pales in comparison to other truly authentic Italian pizza spots. Even Da Paolo does way better ones. I certainly do not recommend this restaurant for their mediocre food and bad service.

Donna Carmela
2 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park
Singapore 289189
Tel: +65 6463 4206
As I will be starting on my new job come January, I said goodbye to my dearest friends at my old workplace. My wonderful diva CK was so nice to give me a special treat at The Clan at Bukit Pasoh, together with my skinnyfat twin.
Bukit Pasoh is home to many good restaurants like The Majestic, Oso and Magma. The building that houses the restaurant is over a hundred years old and is rich in heritage (hence the name). I suppose this is fairly new as i didn't noticed it previously. The food served here is ironically not Chinese. Instead, The Clan provides Modern European dishes with an Asian touch (by that i mean Japanese).

What's great here is their high quality degustation set menu which allows for a million permutation of choices. The menu reminds me of Dozo, which does a Japanese version. I think they are by the same group, they even have similar dishes. Anyway it's cheaper at Dozo if you fancy Japanese food.

Lunch is a 5 course affair while dinner is 6 courses. With about 4-6 choices for each course, it is without a doubt that we took forever to decide what to have because everything sounded so good. 

Without further ado, our Chef's starter.
We were told to eat it from the right to left. The first is a Foie Gras Chawanmushi. While it tastes a little like the Chickadee snack (or chicken flavored twistees) instead of foie gras, it has to be the smoothest and silkiest steamed egg that i've had. The pan-seared scallop was sweet and bouncy. The last was a refreshing citrusy new styled salmon sashimi.

Next is the Cold Dish (for dinner only)
The Alaskan king crab with homemade karashi dressing was fresh and succulent.
Beef carpaccio, truffle mustard salad in truffle teriyaki & horseradish sauce. Again, i compare this with the beautiful carpaccio cone at Dozo. This kind of pales in comparison due to the amount of beef. While it was tasty, i thought my meat was drowning in the truffle teriyaki sauce. I would have loved a bit more of the European flavor to it. Maybe i'll do the deep fried foie gras the next time. 

Side Dish
Kurobuta pork belly confit w pork cracker & passion fruit sauce was stellar even though i could not bring myself to eat all that soft and melty fats. The meat was tender but there's another pork dish that would blow your mind away. Read on..
If you prefer something lighter, go for the Steamed bamboo clam with salmon trout roe drizzled with a light Japanese sauce. The clam was perfectly cooked to maintain that crunchiness. Seafood lovers would dig this.


My skinnyfat twin and i both had the Crab bisque cappuccino with truffle foam & prawn twister. This is kinda like a cold soup (more like room temperature). The prawn twister is exactly like a non-spicy hae bee hiam snack that we have during Chinese New Year. The soup is fragrant and the texture is like a smoothie. My only qualms is that it's a little sweet for a soup. 

The Kurobuta pork jowl in pistachio puree with pickled zucchini & 64 degree egg yolk is absolutely sublime. Crispy on the outside, it breaks apart easily with a fork. The graininess of the nut complements the buttery meat very well. It is best that you coat each bite with the smooth yolk before devouring it.
The 48 hours Beef short ribs on Hoba Leaf with Lava Stone is also a crowd pleaser. The meat is absolutely tender and i love the aroma of the Hoba Leaf and how it infused into the meat. No sauce required at all. Take the meat off the leaf if you don't want the stone to continue cooking it. 

CK also said the 48 degree poached salmon with Japanese broth is delish as well.

CK's Strawberry yogurt cake was very refreshing. I love that fizzy texture to the cake, it's like drinking a soft drink. Zing.
My Chocolate Lava with Homemade Gelato was small, possibly about 2inches, but i couldn't bring myself to finish it considering how i finished every morsel of the previous dishes. The hazelnut gelato was a little icy but i like the intensity of the nutty flavor.
The Triple Espresso Creme Brulee sounds like a bad idea for dinner, especially if you intend to sleep at night, but the caffeine didn't feel as strong as it sounds. Nice texture too.

So the damage was only $62.80++ for a 6 course dinner. Now, that is simply fantastic. Great place for a slightly more indulgent regular dinner. It's a bosses' favorite too, evident by the number of towkays dining at The Clan that night. Now knock yourself out.  

The Clan Restaurant
18/20 Bukit Pasoh Road
Telephone: +65 6222 2084
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm (Last order 2pm)
Dinner: 6pm - 11pm (Last order 9.30pm)

Saveur is known as the decent and highly affordable French food for the masses in Singapore. Since their humble beginnings at the Ali Baba Eating House (i'm serious) in Katong, the young chefs have gone a long way and have even made a mark for themselves at Purvis Street. My friend said that they have expanded from their original store front the next store in order to meet the demands of the customers.  
We didn't make a reservation as we were under the impression they do not take any (i'm still unsure). At 7pm, we had to wait 30 mins for a table for 7. As we sat there waiting, the wait time given to the other customers increased from 15 mins to a good 45 mins. 
For starters, we had the Signature Saveur pasta tossed with chili oil, fine-chopped Japanese konbu and sakura ebi with minced pork sauce ($4.90). This is the Italian version of our local minced pork noodles. The texture of the angel hair pasta makes it more delicate than its fat mee pok cousin. Kind of reminded me of Iggy's signature cappellini. Of course, every cents count towards the quality but this is not too shady. 
From the Special menu, the Seafood Pasta with Tiger Prawn and Lumpfish Caviar ($6.90) is also a crowd pleaser. Perfectly al dente noodles which is well flavored by the natural seafood sweetness. The taste is lighter than the signature pasta and the spring onions gives each mouthful a refreshing burst when you bite into them. Prawns are a wee small though but it's only $6.90. 

Portions are small, about a 12cm long roll but it will fill you up together with a main course order.
If you want something smaller, perhaps pick from the 2 different pan-seared Foie Gras: One served with creamy lentils and pickled pearl onion ($7.90) and the other with apples infused with port wine and vanilla bean ($9.90). I wasn't too much of a fan of their foie gras as it was on the grainy and powdery side. La Petite's (another cheap French place at Serene Centre and Thomson) tasted better in my memory. 
Duck Confit ($10.90) is their hot favorite. The flatted and pan fried duck leg was served atop homemade mashed potato with saute shiitake mushroms, orange segments and orange infused natural juice. I like that the meat wasn't too salty or dry and the creamy thick mash helped to give it a little moisture. It may look small but i was very satisfied even after giving S a few bites of my dish. 
The Pan-seared sea bass with diced saute potato with crabmeat, french beans and caper vinaigrette ($14.90) was equally tasty. Fresh and juicy fish with a crispy exterior but it still maintained that smidgen of fats under the pan fried skin. The potatoes were nicely flavored with the crabmeat and herbs. If Duck or Fish are not your cuppa, there is also the braised beef short ribs in red wine ($14.90) or oven roasted beef tenderloin ($24.90) if you are in the moo mood, chicken and pork are also available. 
As for desserts, we had the Special Tarts: Lemon Curd, Gula Melaka and Coconut, Araguani Dark Chocolate Tart and Raspberry Sorbet ($9.90). The tarts are smaller than 1.5inches and i like the lemon and coconut one. Bite into the light coconut tart and it would reveal its moist gula melaka center (brown coconut and cane sugar). They should really make this a bigger tart.
Chocolate & Hazelnut ($7.90)- chocolate mousse with crushed hazelnuts, broken raspberries and roasted rice puffs to give it that extra crunch. I'm not a huge fan of mousse but i like the different textures in this one. The raspberries also add a nice zing of sourness to the sweet mix.
I've been dying to try Esquina for the longest time since it's like the Holy Grail of Spanish Tapas in Singapore. Well at least before Catalunya appeared on the scene. So anyway, i headed down, with a couple of friends in tow, with the aim of trying as many items on the menu as possible. 
Esquina is a haute tapas boutique where patrons perch precariously on weirdly shaped metal stools that will seriously damage some nuts. Not a place for large groups because you can hardly converse farther than your immediate left/right. The interior is chic and industrious and the vibe no nonsense-ish unlike the friendliness at Foodbar Dada (though i was teased by the head chef when caught playing with my food). Everything goes like clockwork behind the bar and it was quite a performance for the guests. Love the order of it all. 
Starters: Ham Croquetas ($10) is my must order. 4.5cm tall balls filled with creamy bechamel and chunks of what is possibly iberico ham (i expect no less) left us wanting for more. The ham was a little salty but i love it. But i maintain that Catalunya's remain at the top spot.

From the Eggs section:
The Smoked Haddock, spring onion and Manchego omelette ($18) was the fluffiest eggs i've tried in a while. I would liken it to a souffle but firmer. The taste was light; simply flavored with the natural sweetness of the smoked haddock. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
Fried quail egg, asparagus & iberico salad, truffle mayonnaise ($19). Pretty plating but nothing special. The textures and ingredients just didn't gel.

Onto the Seafood section.
Do order the Sauteed gambas, chili garlic, potato dumplings and bisque sauce ($24) even though it doesn't look spectacular. The prawns were fresh and bouncy and i love the rich bisque sauce so much i could inhale it. Gnocchi were meh.
Skip the Salt & pepper squid with black ink aioli ($20). We wanted a little difference in texture and hence this dish. Certainly not worth the 20 bucks.

The Meat dishes are quite faboosh. Check it out in my order of preference.
Please please please do order the Beef tartare with spicy ketchup, confit egg yolk, frozen foie gras and toast ($27). Extremely flavorful and smooth tartare, especially after you scoop the confit egg yolk onto it. The taste and texture are simply sublime, especially when coupled with the crunchiness of that yeasty toast. Craves.
The Grilled rib-eye with spice aubergine puree, served with lentil pearl barley dhal ($39) is also superb. The meat is so good you don't need any of that fancy sauce to go with it. In fact i thought the sauces overpower the natural goodness of the red. Medium rare ftw. This is a dish i will never share again, same goes for the tartare.
The Roast lamb rump with black olive polenta, baby romaine and anchovy chimichurri ($27) was another good dish. The meat portion would suffice as a main course for a small eater. None of that gaminess in the meat. I thought the polenta with anchovy chimichurri was a tad too salty.
I know how everyone has been raving about the Iberico pork & foie gras burger ($27) but you would need a huge pitcher of water to wash down all that saltiness from the patty. There isn't enough bun to tone down the sodium of that pork and needless to say, i couldn't taste any of the foie gras.

From the Specials, we had...

Roast suckling pig, iberico belly, crispy skin pickled vegetables and pig gravy ($33). If you are afraid of the porcine taste, you may want to skip this one. It's quite a heavy dish to finish on your own due to that porkiness. That said, the tender meat and semi solid fats may win itself some fans.
Grilled ox tongue on burnt cauliflower puree, cauliflower crisp & couscous, sherry jelly ($23). I love tongues. My first experience was in Tokyo and we had this thinly sliced ones done the yakiniku way. This is a little thick and hence you get more of that chewiness and fibre, and the slight metallic taste. We adored how the cauliflower was prepared though.
Sauteed clams, saffron white bean stew, lemon parsley gremolata ($22) is one of the hot favorites though i couldn't understand why. Granted the seafood is fresh but the preparation and seasoning didn't leave any impression on me. Perhaps my tongue was assaulted by the saltiness of the other dishes so much i couldn't taste this. Maybe?

The damage came up to $320 for the above dishes. 12 dishes+ 1 bread for the 5 of us were quite substantial for us. So much that we had to give Keong Saik Snacks (by Atherton as well) a miss. Instead we walked down to Chinatown to have Chinese desserts instead. :/

Would i be back? Sure. Esquina is a must try. I would say 2-3 dishes should fill you up, more if you are greedy. They don't take reservations, so go early especially on a fri/sat or be prepared to wait in line.

Esquina Tapas Bar
16 Jiak Chuan Lane
(No Reservations)
Weekdays: 12pm - 3pm | 6pm - 11pm
Sat: 6pm - 11pm