Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

The Italian throw an insane party and you can expect the same at Zafferano's Saturday Champagne Brunch specially curated by Head Chef Emanuele Faggi. The hearty brunch features 3 generous courses of Italian perennial favourites, served sharing-style at the table – the exact way Italian families have enjoyed their get-togethers for generations, as well as, a lavish spread of Italian sweets at the dessert bar. 
Go hungry is my last words for you. 
The feast starts with live seasonal oysters. Each diner gets two oysters but you get unlimited servings of all the other items. One portion of the appetizers is served first but feel free to ask your server for extras of whatever you like.
Fresh Italian burrata served with tomatoes is a must and boy are they creamy! 

I couldn't fault the other cold sides of marinated salmon topped with avruga caviar
 and selection of cold cuts
If you need something to warm you up, the stewed mussels in pepper broth with rosemary croutons fits the bill. They could have served fluffier bread so that they could soak up more of the broth. 
No one stands between me and the gratin Hokkaido scallops. The succulent flesh was topped with a mixture of savory crunch bread, parsley, pine nuts, and punctuated with juicy raisins. I'd skip the oily polenta cakes with bacalhau which was super fishy. Also, the sludgy and thick Tuscan soup of tomato and bread topped with Parmesann crumble didn't seem too appetizing so i skipped that altogether. 
Well, i was right to save my carb quota for the Primi course. From top clockwise, there's the superfine ‘risotto Acquerello’ with four cheeses topped with shaved summer truffle; house-made veal agnolotti with spinach and hazelnuts; and the baked potato gnocchi prepared in Sorrentina style, served with tomato, mozzarella cheese.
The standout was the gnocchi! I would never order gnocchi because the probability of getting a nasty one is pretty high but Zafferano does them perfectly- fluffy light pillows that you never want to stop eating, especially with all that cheese and sauce! The risotto was lovely as well. 
We haven't even gotten to the main courses yet! My pick? The pan-fried seabass prepared in the Mediterranean style with olives, tomato, and fresh thyme, accompanied by rosemary potatoes and sautéed vegetables. I love the brightness in the sauce and the flavors are certainly welcomed after loading on the carbs.
The other meat course is the pan-seared duck breast served with onion compote and mustard sauce but i found it a tad dry.
The Bar Del Dolci would be set up for the dessert course. A selection of Italian desserts such as tiramisù, chocolate brownies with pistachio mousse, almond cake with mascarpone cream, mini luscious chocolate mousse, and tarts are made available. My favorite was the chocolate cones and brownies.  

Zafferano’s Saturday Italian Table Brunch is served from 12pm to 3pm on 27 October 2018 and 24 November 2018 this and is available at $98/pax with free flow of Spumante, beer, house wine, juices and soft drinks, or $128 with the addition of free flow Champagne.

Ocean Financial Centre 10 Collyer Quay, Level 43, Singapore 049315 
Tel: +65 6509 1488
Weekdays: 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30pm till late
Sat: 6:30pm till late (last order for food 10pm) 
Sunday Brunch: 12 - 3pm
Maggie Joan's, our favorite laneway restaurant has shifted to serving Modern European cuisine after three years with Seumas Smith (formerly Head Chef at Moosehead) fronting the kitchen as Group Executive Chef. Seumas presents fine seasonal ingredients from small or artisanal producers on his plates, with every component made from scratch to maintain the integrity of the ingredients. 
We started with my favorite bite of Shiso tempura with taramasalata, nori & lime zest ($3/pc). It's expensive, but Chef Seumas can take my money if he makes it into a bucket for home consumption. It's a glorious combination of fat and salt. That shiso tempura with taramasalata should be made into a bucket of chips and trust me it's easy to finish that citrusy chips in no time.
We also could never resist a housebaked sourdough ($4) served with rendered and smoked O'Connor beef fat that is mixed with artisanal French butter. 
My favorite from the small plates was the Beetroot ($17) with smoked crème fraîche, walnuts & burnt honey. Here, the beetroots are pickled and barbecued in the INKA charcoal oven, thereby enhancing its sweetness. It was complemented with a hickory wood chips smoked crème fraîche, crunchy candied walnuts, fresh pomegranate, peppery upland cress and a dressing of burnt Scottish Heather honey sourced from Prince Charles’ Mey Selections. The textures and flavors were simply gorgeous, and it's the perfect dish for fall. 
It was the first time i had Burrata ($21) with an acidic dressing but i must say it was very refreshing indeed. The preserved lemon which has been pickled with a Chardonnay vinegar gave the dish the tangy lift. The sugar snap peas and garden peas also provided a crunchy rawness to the mix. 
The Hamachi Crudo ($23) with almond sauce was yet another inventive dish by Chef Seumas. Here, there's the fresh seafood flavors from the soy and mirin marinated trout roe and the hamachi. The wakame was also rehydrated and pickled with aromatics and white wine vinegar. The smooth almond sauce made from almonds and buttermilk and chardonnay vinegar provided that smoothness to the dish. 
On to the mains, the Barramundi ($34) was a comforting dish for me. The nage- a rich stock made from roasted fish bones and aromatics is what binds the dish. The light creaminess helped to make the creamy Scottish Loch Fyne mussels stand out and also complemented the delicate flavour of the locally farmed fish. The drops of parsley oil helped to add a different dimension to the dish. 
For feasting, the hearty sharing dishes from the grill excite. I really enjoyed the Spiced lamb, salmorejo, black garlic & salsa verde. Australian lamb loin is first crusted with a spice mix of sumac, cumin and dried coriander, then grilled in the INKA oven. I love the super juicy meat that was balanced with a fresh minty side. A pair of mini braised lamb buns accompanies the dish. These are baked in-house – similar to dinner rolls. I didn't quite like them as they were a bit hard and tough and the filling was dry. 
The Duck Breast ($36) with carrot, plum and buckwheat was another favorite for us. The French duck is first brined then pan fried till crispy, and finished in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare doneness. The hearty meat was balanced with sweet confit grilled carrots, carrot puree, and plum puree. The jus was pure umami, made from simmering duck bones, burnt Scottish heather honey, brandy and red wine and aromatics used in the brine. 
The flavors and components in the Duroc pork chop ($42) worked- the apple purée, pork sauce, and crispy crackling. What disappointed was that the pork was a tad dry.
Vegetables are done really well at Maggie Joan's. I would order a side of Roasted carrots ($10) just for myself. The carrots are confit in butter with bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, salt and sugar. Then grilled in an INKA charcoal oven upon order, tossed in brown butter, black sesame seeds, parsley and honey. Paired with the smooth housemade ricotta and a tangy apricot puree gelatin, each bite was sweet heaven.
The deep fried Australian Russet potatoes ($10) were rather irresistible as well. I was surprised by the sweetness of the pickled mustard grains. Give the ingredients a good toss to mix the rosemary salt, French crème fraiche, pickled mustard seeds, whole grain mustard, finely chopped chives nicely before digging in.
Desserts hold their own with delightful sweets like the tropical Coconut panna cotta with prosecco & grapefruit jelly ($12).
The meringue ($12) did very well with the blackberries sauce, yogurt sorbet & shiso as well. 
The complimentary salted caramel and chocolate sable was the perfect ending to the night.

As usual, another lovely experience at Maggie Joan's with new favorites this time.

Maggie Joan’s Dining & Bar
110 Amoy Street #01-01 (Entrance from Gemmill Lane)
Singapore 069930
Weekdays: 12 - 2.30pm, 6 - 11 pm
Sat: 6 - 11pm 
For 2 nights only on 17 and 31 October, the Backstreet Bengs of Amoy Street- chef Jeremmy Chiam of Le Binchotan, chef Eugene See of Birds of A Feather, and chef Miller Mai of Ding Dong, will work together to present a six-hands event. The mini food journey would bring guests to all three restaurants where they would sample a signature and a specially created dish that is based on the heritage of Amoy Street, Chinatown at each location.
The menu was planned in tandem, while carefully maintaining their individual culinary identities.
At Birds of a Feather, chef Eugene presents a special Sichuan-style Chwee Kueh. The “water cake” is made in-house the traditional way with rice flour, but is given a spicy savoury Szechuan spin with crispy kohlrabi bits and Szechuan spicy red oil, then dressed with scallion oil, pickled daikon and black fungus. The toppings are super addictive and i wished there were more with the cake.
This is served alongside a plate of Baked Eggplant, one of my favorites from the new a la carte menu (read about my review of Birds of a Feather here). The yuxiang [鱼香] sauce is so good with the baked eggplant and fried mantou!

At Ding Dong, chef Miller serves a special chee cheong fun made out of scallop. The smooth and silky sheets are made of scallop and encases crunchy tiger prawns and blue swimmer crab. The rolls are served with a typical South-East Asian sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, clam stock and chilli. I thought it was a tad too fishy overall.
The signature Ding Dong dish is the Pork Collar, Char Siew, Caramelised Pineapple. The Iberico pork collar was a tad dry even though it was sous vide though.
My favorite dish of the night was served at Le Binchotan. The Uni Okayu with Charcoal Youtiao by chef Jeremmy is inspired by rice porridge but it was definitely a more superb version. Uni rice is served in a pool of rich kombu and scallop bouillon, garnished with crunchy charcoal youtiao rounds, and topped with even more lobes of fresh uni. This needs to go on the main menu. AGAIN.
The signature dish he presents will be a roll of his ‘Edible Charcoal’- beef short ribs braised for 16 hours wrapped in charcoal spring roll skin and accompanied by house-made garlic yoghurt. Careful of that really spicy and pungent garlic yoghurt!

Reservations must be made in advance; only a maximum of 60 reservations will be accepted each evening. Guests will be assigned a schedule the day before the dinner, so that they know where their meal for that evening will begin, where to go next, and where their meal will end that evening.

To reserve your seat, e-mail Confirmed attendees will be sent an itinerary the day before the reservation.

Le Binchotan
115 Amoy Street #01-04 Singapore 069935 (Entrance via Gemmill Lane)
Tel: +65 6224 1045

Birds of A Feather
115 Amoy Street Singapore 069935
Tel: +65 6221 7449

Ding Dong
115 Amoy Street #01-02 Singapore 069935
Tel: +65 6557 0189

Let's put it out there. I like Pollen, and mainly it's because of Executive Chef Steve Allen. He's such a nice, down to earth, funny guy who pays a great amount of detail to his dishes. "A dish without a story, is a food without a soul", said Steve. For Pollen's sixth anniversary, he has put together a six course Stories Tasting Menu that tells of his journey as a chef and Pollen's philosophy of presenting accessible and genuine food from the heart. 
Steve draws inspiration from Southeast Asian chefs and regional agriculture to create his brand of French-Mediterranean cuisine which celebrates the freshness and integrity of produce through simple preparation. He seeks to let the natural flavours of ingredients take centrestage with his dishes.
A series of snacks were fired shortly after we sat down. This chicken liver parfait snack has been on the menu since the beginning and probably the only thing that has stayed because Steve loves changing the menu.  
This has to be the most refreshing egg tart i've eaten. That buttery filo pastry is love and it held a savory egg cream with spring onions and herbs like dill. Strangely, Jr thinks it tasted like Big Mac. We also had another anchovy snack that is wrapped in a leaf and done in the tempura style. 
The snacks just kept coming and we were starting to feel a little full from them even before the start of the meal. Thankfully, a refreshing sour cream in beetroot and pickled cabbage broth with smoked sausage helped freshen our palate and tummies for the meal.

Every meal starts with bread and Pollen has a special "mother dough" recipe for their sourdough made when they opened in 2012. Since then, it is used in the starter to make their fresh bread daily. It's not pictured here because i polished it off with their whipped butter with leek oil before i could photographed it. 
Then, Pollen’s Garden, a Russian salad of sorts according to Steve, made of 16 vegetables done in different ways, with bagna cauda, and topped with a smoking tomato and basil snow. I loved the different textures and flavors in this dish- pickled, raw, baked, compressed, marinated and tempura. It's creamy, tartish, herby and also umami. We heard that the soil is actually made of vegetable peels! For pairing, we had a homemade sparkling "rose" made of rhubarb, basil, and Hendricks gin. The combination of the two certainly left our mouths watering.
We moved on to Langoustine & Lardo, a dish that is conjured of Head Chef Carmine La Garciola's fond memories from his childhood and family in Italy. The ricotta used here is the exact recipe that his grandmother taught him as a child and the lardo comes from the Tuscan region. What's lovely is the combination of sweet tender translucent flesh of the langoustine and salty lardo. An acidic herb juice is prepared tableside and poured on the dish. At this point, i thought that citrus and acid could possibly be another main feature of Pollen's menu. 
Next, Steve's signature dish- Sea & Sand. This dish was inspired by his childhood days in Eastbourne, south coast of England, where he would spend his days eating cockles, prawns and mussels from the pier. This pretty plate made us want to visit his hometown. It's not just the presentation of the dish that brought us to the beach, we could even smell the ocean in this one! The plate of perfectly pink salmon, was complemented with salty sweet bites of ikura, crab, and clam. 
The sand that accompanied the dish tasted like candied furikake but it's made from brown butter solids and a vinegar-sugar "honeycomb". I really loved the sand!

The seafood dishes were paired with an Italian orange wine from the region Emilia Romagna made with Malvasia grapes. It's really dry, and tart and it really doesn't taste or smell much like wine imo.  There's a very strong diesel nose to it. It's our second time drinking orange and we concluded that it's not our thing. 
Arriving in Asia is a dish of beef cheek tea, like a ba kut teh but not quite either. Steve's wife is the one who taught him about Chinese herbs and how to use them to enhance certain flavors. This dish is actually Steve's favorite English dish- boiled beef and carrots but with a local twist. We could taste sweetness of the ba kut teh herbs but the soup wasn’t all that herby. The beef-turnip-herb stock is further infused with Chinese herbs in a siphon before serving. 
The pairing here is with "Michael Jackson", a Black Cow vodka sour with grass jelly, which was yet another sour drink. 

We ended our savory course with Nose to Tail, which featured all parts of the suckling pig. A piece of lovely meat, and a creamy croquette made with all the other parts. This was kinda a symbolic end to the meal and embodies the philosophy of Pollen on food wastage. This is paired with a Pinot Noir from Beaujolais.
Finally desserts. We started with a non-traditional English Tea at Raffles which we couldn’t get enough off! The drink is served cold, with an Earl Grey sphere that pops and mixes with the Osmanthus milk foam. It’s perfectly light and fragrant. 
The Singapore Sling is an iconic Singapore drink, even though most of us would never ever order this drink. Steve has taken the fruits, herbs, and spices in the drink and made it into 2 desserts- A cherry cream and pineapple jam biscuit, and a sorbet dessert.
Both desserts fared better than the darn cocktail IMO. However, we’d have preferred a heavier dessert to anchor the meal but that’s just us. Desserts were served with a Gosnells gluten free Hopped Mead from UK. 

Love the stories at Pollen and the restaurant is magical. It’s perfect for a romantic date night. Thanks Chef Steve Allen for the wonderful experience and also helping with my wedding surprise for Jr! 

The Stories tasting menu is priced at $158 for 6 courses and the pairing is $55 for 5 glasses. I’d recommend getting a good bottle of wine for sharing instead. 

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-09
Singapore 018953
We are all aware of the many Japanese restaurants hidden in Cuppage Plaza, but do you know there's one hidden in plain sight just opposite the building? Sushi Chiharu by Tamaya Dining is tucked within Tamaya Dining, another casual Japanese restaurant. Expect an intimate night of intricate Japanese dining featuring fresh Japanese seasonal produce at this 12-seater omakase restaurant, whose flagship in Osaka is a three-time Michelin recommended Bib Gourmand (2016 to 2018).
Quality and consistency is expected of the food delivered at Sushi Chiharu. Sushi Chiharu handpicks the best chefs to work at their Osaka branch, and only a selected few get to be posted to their regional outlets. The chefs prepare two menus at the Singapore outlet, a 18-course Omakase Menu ($140) and a 10-piece Nigiri Sushi Course ($90). All items are served a la minute at the open sushi counter. 
The 18-course includes three appetisers, two seasonal sashimi, a seasonal dish, the restaurant's signature 10-piece nigiri sushi, a soup and dessert. We started with a pumpkin soup with caviar. I loved the distinct dashi flavor in this Tsukiji pumpkin purée. 
Next bite was the chunky Taraba Kani Kimi Sunose with Kimizu- grilled king crab legs with a vinegary egg custard.
The fatty Hokkaido sardines were complemented with a refreshing sharp ponzu. I thought that the acidity helped take the edge off the fish.
The sashimi course consisted of horse mackerel and chutoro. There was also aburi chutoro which melted perfectly. 
The tempura course was Hamo- Daggertooth Pike Conger. I enjoyed the light fragrant batter which didn't overpower the fluffy fish. 

Haenuki rice is used in the signature sushi course for its unparalleled softness, distinct grains, and how well they mold together. This rice is cooked with kombu, rice vinegar, and a touch of salt and sugar, to enhance its natural flavours. I love love love the rice and also how each piece of sushi is perfectly sized to pop into my mouth. 
The Ika Somen Nigiri features thinly sliced squid (like noodles) topped with squid ink salt and a light drizzle of Japanese lime.  
Kisu- Sand borer.
Edomae sushi is served here and thus there are several cured seafood dishes. Cured tuna may sound like a salty bomb but the special blend of soy sauce that Sushi Chiharu marinates the tuna in brings out the sweetness of the fish. 
In the preparation of Aji Su Arai Nigiri, Aji (horse mackerel) is submerged in a homemade vinegar blend between one to three minutes. It is then sliced and scored, and topped with finely chopped spring onions and ginger, and lightly brushed with soy sauce to finish. Again, the tartness cleverly cuts through the strong flavor of the Aji.  
Moving on, both the Bafun and Murasaki Uni (sea urchin) tantalized my palate. Who can say no to Uni?!
Prior to this Grilled Botan Ebi course, we had been tortured the whole night by the heady aroma of the grilled prawns that other diners were having. The sweet shrimp is served two ways- plump sashimi with marinated roe, and a crispy grilled prawn head stuffed with sushi rice. 
This was pure happiness. 
The Aburi Barracuda Kamasu was served with wasabi and salt. I thought it was a tad spicy.
Anago Nigiri is uniquely prepared by first boiling the Anago (sea eel), then grilling it atop a sasa leaf on the hibachi grill. The result is fluffy cloud-like flesh with a touch of earthiness from the sasa leaf. This is finished with a light dab of sansho pepper and a glaze of a sauce reduced from a combination of soy sauce and its own juices.
I can never say no to hotate and this one is coated in umami tare. Love that luxurious texture! 
Sushi Chiharu's signature is Kerayaki, their unique take on tamagoyaki made with locally sourced eggs. Egg whites are whipped up into a meringue and the yolks are folded in.
This results in an airy and slightly sweet sponge cake. A small amount of sushi rice is wrapped within the egg  layers (i'm not sure why though). I mean i could have a block of it on its own as a dessert.  
We ended the meal with a comforting miso soup with water lily.
The meal ended with a sweet Japanese melon which turned into juice when we bit into it. MAGIC. One can could also enjoy a wide range of seasonal sakes by the bottle, ranging from $118 to $300.

I really enjoyed my time at Sushi Chiharu. Great good, great price, great service. Be sure to make your reservation!

45A Cuppage Rd, Singapore 229464
Tel: +65 6835 3639 (Reservations are required for dining from 6pm to 9pm.)
Mon - Sat: 6 - 11.30pm
Sun & PH: 6 - 10.30pm