Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

I cannot emphasize how much of a good deal the Morton's of Chicago Sunday Lunch Special is! From $98/pax, you get to enjoy a sumptuous 3 course set lunch featuring some of their signature steaks. And, there are even more choices now as Morton's has gotten some new additions just for lunch. 
The 3 course includes an appetizer, entree and a dessert and the options are simply mouth-watering. 
Appetizers feature some salads, and i had a proper taste of the Chopped House Salad this time and found it to be very appetizing with refreshing chunks of avocado, onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Plus one can not resist bacon. 
If you don't mind spending a bit more, how about a heady and rich Lobster Bisque (+$10) with a juicy piece of flesh swimming in the creamy broth. Morton's signature Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and Maine Lobster Cocktail are also available at an added cost if you are looking to indulge in fresh seafood. 
What's a Morton's meal without some delectable steaks! An 8.5oz Filet Mignon with asparagus and mashed potatoes is available at no added cost. But if you're a steak connoisseur, their center-cut Prime Ribeye, New York Strip, and Porterhouse are available as add-ons. 
Non-steak eaters also have a wider variety of options. Chicken Christopher, Chicken Bianco, Honey-balsamic Glazed Salmon, Shrimp Scampi Capellini, and Short Rib Bolognese are available as entrees. 
Aren't you tired of the usual communal or cafe brunch offerings yet? Well JW Marriott Singapore South Beach comes to the rescue with their classy brunch "A Japanese Affair" at Akira Back. Buffet it is not. Instead, you get to feast on an 8-course brunch designed by Executive Chef Tomoyuki Kiga.
Customize your own brunch with the varied choices provided. For your sake, i've expanded my waistline just to taste everything, so that you wouldn't waste your calories! Start with some AB Sake Junmai Ginjo (30ml) instead of the regular soda or Gemmaicha that is included in the course.
I was half worried that a huge pizza would show up on the table for this carb course. Well turns out that the pizza is more of a thin crunchy cracker. Both the tuna and mushroom are lovely! If you want a rich and robust flavor, go for the truffle mushroom. The tuna with onion is rather refreshing too. 
For the Zensai course, i'm not too sure what we had but it's probably the salad of the day. Loved the presentation of this crunchy salad, adequately spiked by a spicy goma sauce. The way to eat this is to smash it all and mix it together. 
The Sakana course is either the Sashimi or Sushi. Pick 3 from the list of fresh fish that is flown in twice weekly from Tsukiji (where else right?). The regular selection of maguro, hamachi, shake, unagi, tako, and tamago is available.
For a Japanese restaurant, i didn't think the sushi rice was up to standard, it definitely needs more seasoning in it. The fish were alright, but the unagi was a tad rubbery. 

The Agemono course of tempura presents 3 deep fried items of your choice. White fish, ebi, soft shell crab, eggplant, sweet potato and shiitake are available. While i enjoyed the seafood, i thought the batter could less heavy as it held a fair bit of excess oil. 
Cleanse your palate with either the vodka lychee granita or raspberry sorbet before moving on to the mains! I recommend the tender Beef cheek with soy bordelaise, honey roasted carrot, oba kimchee; or the Spring chicken, done in a spicy Korean spicy marinade.
The grilled Hamachi Kama was rather plain, and the chirashi-don failed me with their rice. 
Not full still? Well after the Garlic fried rice or Hosomaki roll, you'll arrive at slumberland in no time.
I'd go with the crunchy and fragrant garlic fried rice for sure, even though you may need more than a couple of mints after. 
For desserts, the Shiratama was gorgeous. I loved the milk pudding that held up all the little Japanese sweets.
The Matcha cake was rich but the sweetness was balanced by the tart strawberry compote. I enjoyed both, but the pudding was just right to end the heavy meal.

Akira Back, JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach
30 Beach Road, Level B1M, Singapore 189763
Tel: +65 6818 1914
Weekend Brunch: 12 - 3pm 

Duoro Valley is a mandatory wine lover stop when one is in Porto Portugal. While Duoro Valley is known for their Port wine, they also produce other wines. Of course, the best way to learn about the various varietals is to drink them! You could do a self drive if you wish as the valley is only about 1.5h away from Porto. However, be warned that the roads can be treacherous, especially when one has a bit to drink. I decided on a wine tour so that the burden could be taken off us and we could just enjoy the drinking along the way! 
I picked Duoro Exclusive after doing my research. The small team consists of locals from the Wine Valley and they'd drive from the Valley to pick you up from Porto and back. Each Gold Experience tour takes a maximum of 7 person and you can also opt for a private tour. What drew me to this tour is not only the learning experience but also the great food that's offered in the package. While most of the tours would bring you to traditional taverns for lunch, our wine-lunch was at the one Michelin star DOC Restaurant by celebrity Chef Rui Paula, right next to the Duoro River. And all of that was only for 190€ per person.
Our guide Sandra picked us up bright and early at 9am and gave us an explanation of the history and geography of the valley along the way. We learned that Duoro has the oldest DOC for Port (1726) and the same grapes/blends are used for both port and table wines. Blends are huge in Portugal wine producers and they can have anything from 3 to 40 varietals in a bottle (it's mad). Even their fields are blended- you don't get a single plot of anything, they are all mixed!
As Duoro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, everything is done by hand- From building the vertical dry walls of shale and slate, to the harvesting of the grapes. It's hard work and dedication!
Afternoon Tea is a guilty pleasure of mine. They have me at scones and clotted cream. Plus all the dainty sweets accompanied by specially brewed tea and there goes the weekend and the diet plan. I'm sure you've had that guilt creep up on you after one of those indulgent sessions, plus that lethargy after the sugar rush! Well, now you can have your cake and eat it sinlessly. Capella Singapore's designer kitchen, Chef's Table has added a healthier option to its Capella Tea ExperienceWellness Tea Time, which is available every Friday afternoon from 3 to 5pm.
The menu is conceptualised by Chef Sandra Lim of Live Fruitfully, a certified raw food chef, and Chef David Senia, the Culinary Director of Capella Singapore, and together they have produced a unique five-course menu of gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free sweets. 
Savories before sweets. The Tempeh portobello slider with green goddess cream is full of 'meaty' flavors and textures. This tempeh was certainly more enjoyable than the Nasi Padang stereotype and we love the herby coconut yogurt cream and onion chutney that were layered in the mini burger.
I'm a critical person if i may admit so myself. Things that puts me off when it comes to food/restaurants in general- instagrammable food (since they can't score in the taste dept, why not make them look pretty at least), trends (think rainbow cake, bingsu, cheese toast, fusion etc.), and also strange names. Beast and Butterflies at M Social Singapore happen to fall into 2 of the above categories (Asian fusion and the weird thing thing), BUT they also made a successful attempt in changing my prejudice. 
If you must know, the menu is divided into 2 categories- 'Beast’ for hearty and bold flavors; and ‘Butterflies’ for lighter cooking styles to bring out natural flavors of the ingredients. Instead of Asian fusion, i would say that the food is traditional Chinese with an unexpected twist.

We started with a Tomato Latte ($9), possibly the most non Asian tasting dish we tried. The gazpacho was a refreshing palate cleanser with the tastes of capsicum, crunchy smoky bacon bits and basil oil pearls. 
The Scallop Carpaccio ($26) may sound Japanese or Italian but every bite was Cantonese. The Hokkaido scallops are thinly sliced, marinated with yuzu and sesame oil, and topped with shiso leaves, crispy flour bits and fried shallots. If you close your eyes and have this, you'd probably think that you're having cheong fun (steamed rice rolls). I love the umami flavors in this one! 
Another favorite was the Lobster Porridge ($38), which is perfect wet weather comfort food. The clear crab broth is simmered for eight hours to give that sweet seafood flavor. The bonito flakes add lovely smokiness to the soup as well. Other than lobster, there're also abalone slices in this Teochew style rice porridge.
O Porto. O sweet wine. The magical port of Portugal is the second largest city in Portugal, the first being Lisboa of course (read my Lisbon travel review here). Spend some time here exploring the old district of Ribeira, which dates back to the Middle Ages, take in the architecture and winding streets in the UNESCO World Heritage square, and of course, sample all that sweet liquor that Porto has to offer, preferably by the Duoro River. 
Day 1: Start in Ribeira and be prepared to get lost in the historical labyrinth.  
For sights, you could check out the Porto Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace (Sé Do Porto), the latter is the religious centre of Porto.  
I was fascinated with the São Bento train station, considered one of the most decorative of European stations. Illustrative blue and white azulejos tiles depict significant scenes of Portugal's history. Story was that the city waited for a long time to build the station, on the site of the Convent of São Bento da Avé Maria as there was still 1 living nun in the convent. The convent was quickly demolished once she passed.
For refueling, there are plenty to eat in the Ribeira District. For breakfast, let's indulge in something sweet. Leitaria da Quinta do Paço is known for their divine eclairs which are filled with the lightest Chantilly cream in those airy choux pillows. I felt like i've sinned but boy do they taste sooooo ethereal. The chocolate one was light (it was a chocolate icing), and lemon was tart and refreshing but balanced by the light sweetness of the cream. They actually makes a really good breakfast! Balance that guilt with their hearty sandwiches if you must. 
We had dinner at Jimão Tapas e Vinhos, which specialises in small Portuguese plates. The octopus with black pasta was a standout for us, also order the gambas, and give that avocado with bok choi a go too. The charming restaurant gets packed so do make a reservation. Ask for the table upstairs that overlooks the peaceful streets of Praça da Ribeira. 
Other restaurants that you could consider visiting are Taberna Santo António, Taberna do Largo, Tascö and others that The Culture Trip has recommended. The Mercearia do Bolhão also has some food options available (visit the wine shop there)!
Day 2: Get high on Port (if you haven't already)
Head over the iconic Ponte Luis I Bridge that spans the Duoro River and cross over to Vila Nova de Gaia, the home of Port, for a port wine education. If you don't know where to start, check out Porto Walkers, a tour company that is run by Porto locals only. 
We visited 3 wine lodges and sampled too many drinks. My prior knowledge of port was limited to Graham's Port wine. But on this tour, we learnt about the different types of Port (white, ruby (aged in bigger barrels), tawny (aged in smaller barrels); blended Port (everything else), vintage Port (single year Port, only selected years), Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV), and Colheita (vintage tawny Port aged for more than a decade).
On the tour, we visited Ramos Pinto, who was founded by a controversial man who understood the appeal of sex in selling alcohol. Then we headed to Quinta Santa Eufêmia, which serves a lighter but longer lasting Colheita. 
We ended the tour on the rooftop bar of Ponta Cruz after a massive tasting of more ports in their tasting room. 
We were told you see the best sunsets here. Get a Cruz Rosemary, which is a white port-onic. You'd be surprised at how refreshing it could be, and not too sweet as well. 

Grab a bottle of whatever you like while you're on the tour. We hear the 2011 Vintage is one of the best. For vintages, you gotta finish up in 3 days. For the blended Ports, you can savour it over 6 to 8 months. 
Before or after all that drinking, dig into the heart attack that is the francesinha. The devil's croque madame this is, filled with cheese, ham, sausage, steak and topped with an egg and a slightly spicy gravy. Order one to share before 2 - 3 person. 
Cafe Santiago and Cervejaria Brasão are popular local spots. Well we had ours at Santiago and tbh, it was a rather underwhelming sandwich. 
May i recommend that you head over to Casa Guedes for a humble but out of this world pulled pork sandwiches that only costs 3.20€ a pop. Do not be surprised by the long line outside and be ready to wait for this and make sure you don't stop at one. 
A sweet ending again with the world's best chocolate cake (self-proclaimed) by Carlos Braz Lopes. The cake is definitely not the best i've eaten but it was dark, and light enough to be satisfying. Give it a try if you have space. 

If you're visiting Portugal, I highly recommend a stop over at Porto, and if you have a bit more time, a day or night in the Duoro Valley to sample their wines (yes it's more than just Port). More on Duoro Valley in a bit!

It has been more than a year since my last visit to Le Binchotan and the French-Japanese restaurant has come a long way since. Chef Jeremmy Chiam has taken over the reigns as Chef-Owner, the style is more restaurant than izakaya now, and the dishes are cooked with more finesse.
The focus is still on using French and Japanese ingredients and techniques, with a surprising touch of binchotan character and taste in each dish. 
Take the Uni & Caviar ($25) for instance. At first look and taste , you wonder where the binchotan is featured. Well, it's in hidden the cold corn mousse- some charred corn kernels suspended in the smooth sweet cream for contrast. Dig into the briny and sweet wild-caught bafun uni and sturgeon caviar. Note that the spheres are not ikura but shoyu for that added flavor. This is one uni-corn combination that you cannot afford to miss out on! 
Judging by the name- Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12), i was expecting a charred eggplant to appear on my plate but all that char was removed, leaving only the slippery flesh. The meat was served cold with yogurt and a lightly spiced sesame dressing (more fragrant than spicy). If you're into eggplant, this is a good appetizer to get your stomach juices flowing.
I wished I had more to offer you on the lush green Azores Islands, the hidden secret of Portugal. Like trekking through the verdant green landscapes in São Miguel, checking out volcanoes (the islands are still volcanic), or canyoning in Sao Jorge.. 
BUT the weather on Azores is insanely unpredictable, as they are in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by absolutely nothing, and we ended up spending 3 gloomy rainy days on it, and missing out on all possible outdoor activities. 
We chose to stay on São Miguel, which is the largest island of the lot. The flight from Lisbon took about 2.5h and there are 5 - 6 flights daily. What we did managed to do in that cold wetness, was to get warm in the volcanic hot springs though! Head over to Furnas on São Miguel, quite famous for their natural thermal pools for a relaxing soak.
Hot Spring Pool Dona Beija comes recommended by many. It's a far cry from the Japan onsens that we are accustomed to. There are 3 - 4 pools, mostly crowded, and the water was at best warm. Still, go try it if you're there. 

Another place to take a dip on Furnas is at Parque Terra Nostra. The magnificent garden has several pools and you can also enjoy the different trees, plants, and flowers in the huge compound. 
Portugal is the new destination to visit in western Europe and in particular, the sun-kissed capital Lisbon, which bustles with life and energy, just like a mini-NYC. Galleries, museums, markets, azure blue ocean and great surfs, are just around the corner. 
The country aims to please really, with budget-friendly great eats and English speaking locals, it is extremely easy for anyone to visit. Here are some tips to visiting Lisbon, Portugal. 
1. Start with a walking tour of the city. Because it's the best and fastest way to get acquainted with the city's unique neighborhoods and also gain insights on the city's history, as well as tips and tricks known to locals. 
Like how you shouldn't bother paying to go up the Santa Justa lift for the view of the city when you can just walk right up to the top. 
Or how the Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George's Castle, which is perched atop Lisbon's highest hill in Alfama, is a fake castle that is built to rip off the tourists. I say, run up there for the egg tarts at Pastelaria Santo Antonio. They are pretty worth the workout calories.