Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

It's been a while since this travelerintransit was actually in transit. I've been grounded since Mar 2020 but was one of the lucky ones who managed to squeeze in two good trips before the world went to sh***. The thing about holidays is that they really restore your sanity because you could really take time to unwind and we haven't been able to with COVID. While i wouldn't have splurge on a staycation in the past, given the current situation, please feel free to take my travel money. 
Our first staycation of the year was to celebrate our second anniversary and we decided to go Shangri-La Singapore's Valley Wing Indulgence package. While the $650++ price tag may seem hefty, it comes with daily breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and all-day champagne at the elegant Champagne Bar. Other than the free flow Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV Champagne, the highlight for me was actually the 90-minute massage treatment for two at Chi, The Spa. The spa treatment alone would have costs $235++/pax so you're actually not paying that much for the stay. 
The nice folks at Shang upgraded us to one of their 26 Valley Wing suites for the special occasion. The 110sqm Deluxe Suite is split into a living and a sleeping area and there's even a dining spot, where some sweet treats in a lacquered box greeted us. I expected a bottle of complimentary champagne given the reviews i read but that never came. 
Our pool facing room came equipped with a Nespresso coffee machine and a nice selection of tea bags to be enjoy in one of those pretty Wedgwood teacups. They are very dainty in fact and fit nicely with the typical old school luxurious hotel decor (which i found a little dated).  
The marble clad bathroom with double-vanity sinks was very spacious, and there's a huge bathtub that fits two comfortably (tried and tested). Unfortunately, there was no view in the slightly dimly lit bathroom. Ok i correct myself, there was a good view of Jr in the tub and that's good enough for me. :P You could request for the bubble bath to be drawn anytime you want, since the butler service is 24h, just give them 30mins to prep it for you. 
The bath amenities in the suite are from Acqua De Parma, while other guest rooms in the Valley Wing are stocked with amenities from L'Occitane en Provence. There are two sets of these toiletries in the bathroom (at the shower and bath), and another set in the toilet in the living area. 
Afternoon tea is served from 2 to 5pm at the Valley Wing Lobby Lounge. The selection was quite simple, with a couple of sandwiches, fried spring rolls (which we had seconds of), sweets, and very delicious scones. I was very pleased with the quality of the scones (it is served with clotted cream and jam) and we had more of those as well. Simply tell the service staff which item you would like more of and they are more than happy to oblige. 

I'm not sure if there is a separate Champagne bar or if it is closed during Phase Two but we were happy to have our drinks at the lounge anyway. While there are quite a number of families on vacation, the children were all very well behaved (thank god). Other than champagne, there are other alcoholic beverages include some signature cocktails from Origin Bar, wines and spirits. So go ahead and knock yourself out. The staff was more than happy to top up our glasses without us asking.
We took a nap on the heavenly king bed and had to peel ourselves from the bed in order to catch the evening cocktails and canapes session (it was from 5 to 7pm and we got there 30 mins before it ended). We were still pretty full from the afternoon tea in fact so we didn't mind that we only had a serving of the canapes, which was quite unmemorable. A different spring roll was served and that was quite decent. We chose to sit outdoors on the patio which gave us a nice view of the garden, and we also spotted a proposal event! How sweet. 

Drinks are served until 10.30pm each day (yes champagne too) but we were too lazy to head downstairs for a nightcap after our bubble bath. Plans to have some food at Origin flew out the window too as we  too comfortably cocooned in the fluffy bathrobes. Well it's a holiday after all, why rush ourselves? 
Room service it was and we had the foresight to place our order before we adjourned to our bath. The timing was impeccable and the food delicious. The laksa with lobster claw was an absolute delight and so were the satays that accompanied the nasi goreng. I found the fried rice to be a tad oily and blank though it had a good wok flavor. 
Breakfast for Valley Wing guests are now served at the Summit Room. I believe you could still go to The Line if you wish but why squeeze with the crowd? 
Plus the menu at the Summit Room is definitely more exquisite, think a crispy egg confit with Kaluga Queen caviar and parmesan sabayon (this is a must-eat)! And why not steak and egg for breakfast too! Jr was very pleased with the 200 days grain-fed Australian tenderloin. Top it with the lovely rosti too!
The Bikini sandwich with Parma ham, mozzarella cheese and truffle butter was milky on the inside and a little crisp on the outside. Perfection. Can't say the same for the pancakes which were very very meh and dry. 
We were looking forward to the spa the most but what i didn't realize was that we had to book it ahead of time. I called a weekend before and was placed on the waiting list. I thought perhaps a slot would have been reserved for us with the package but i thought wrong. Since we were unable to get a slot during our weekend stay, we got a voucher for a return visit instead. My deep tissue massage was pretty strong and good!
Our stay at Shangri-La Singapore was fabulous and doing nothing at all was definitely a great break for us. Highly recommended! 

22 Orange Grove Rd, Singapore 258350
Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel marks another milestone in its decades-long history with a fresh contemporary look, together with refreshed menus and experiences for its patrons. Chef Chan Hwan Kee, who has been helming the kitchen for more than 10 years, continues to excite diners with his brand of signature Cantonese and Sichuan dishes. 
Min Jiang is one of the last few restaurants that are still serving their dim sum on push carts. I'm always terribly excited when the trolleys come around and it certainly encourages over-ordering, only because i can't help myself. 
A new range of hand-made dim sum has been introduced and you could order them off the menu. The creatively presented Min Jiang Land and Sea Quartet ($16.80/order) features a rabbit-shaped Steamed Prawn and Carrot Dumpling, accompanied by Deep-fried Pork ‘Char Siew’ and Pine Nuts in Glutinous Pastry fashioned like a carrot. Alongside are a Steamed Squid and Sea Cucumber Dumpling and Steamed Prawn and Chinese Stem Lettuce with Tobiko Dumpling formed like a sea cucumber and starfish respectively. This is perfect for the single diner who wants a variety of dimsum. 
Missing some Tokyo Tendon? Well Tempura Tendon Tenya, Japan's No. 1 Tendon chain restaurant, has landed on our shores with their Orchard Central outlet, the first of many to come. Established in 1989 in Asakusa in Tokyo, the tempura specialist is known for its value-for-money meals.
Dig into a bowl of glistening Masshigura Aomori rice adorned with perfectly battered and fried pieces of seafood, meat or vegetables tempura, drizzled with an umami tare glazing sauce with the perfect viscosity, priced from $7.90. 

The price is surprising because most of the ingredients are sourced from Japanese producers to ensure the highest quality bite, starting from their special blend of wheat flour for their tempura, to the customized blend of tare sauce with soy, dashi and grilled eel essence (from traditional soy sauce maker Kinoene Shoyu) and down to their togarashi chilli. 
Precision is key to the perfectly fried tempura. With a patented Automatic Fryer, Tenya is able to produce consistent tempura without an experienced chef, at the speed of 1000 pieces of tempura per hour! That's how you can get cooked-to-order tempura at Tenya Singapore. 
Easily one of my favorite Chinese restaurants, Man Fu Yuan at InterContinental Singapore has always provided finessed plates of comforting traditional dishes which bring together the family. Their latest menu by Executive Chinese Chef Aaron Tan has spiced things up with innovative techniques along with smoke and fire, providing diners with a multi-sensory experience. 
We started with a luxurious honey-glazed bbq Duroc pork belly char siew ($28 per serving) which was topped with caviar and gold flakes. The meat was served cold but the flavors were robust. I would have preferred a warm piece so that the fats would be creamier. 
The chilled Fanny Bay oysters in hua diao wine, ikura, bonito shoyu ($24/3pcs) was a stunning appetizer and is definitely my preferred way of enjoying the plump shellfish. Served in a cloud of tea-infused smoke, the presentation is certainly to impressed a corporate client but the dish is more than that. The refreshing yuzu dressing provided a touch of sweetness which enhanced the briny freshness of the creamy flesh. 
The braised beef short ribs, wild mushrooms, spicy sauce in lotus leaf ($68) is best eaten with a bucket of rice, which we regretfully did not have. That braising sauce had amassed all the goodness from the chicken mushrooms, morels and the gelatinous meat. The dish is served in a salt crust and flambéed with peppercorn for a very slight fragrance (hardly noticeable) but it was more theatrics than for flavor enhancement.  
Avenue 87, a tale of two Singapore chef friends Glen (of three Michelin Star Ultraviolet) and Alex (previously from Park Hotel Clarke Quay) who trained and started their careers at the same place and are now back to start this Modern Asian restaurant at Amoy Street

Well-loved Asian favourites (the chefs' childhood favorites and memories) are given a creative twist using traditional and contemporary techniques here, and presented in a four or six course dinner menu ($76/98). Wine pairing is available, as curated by Avenue 87's Beverage Specialist, Si Hao, a Certified Specialist of Wine.
We started with snacks of chicken skin chips (think keropok) and kueh pie tee with a take on curry fish head albeit meatless. 
Hidden under the curry crema are thinly sliced baby eggplants, lady’s fingers, semi-dried cherry tomatoes, and curry leaves. Best way to eat your veg is to hide them!
The first dish was a Japanese inspired salmon sashimi dish, topped with a refreshing icy soy wasabi granita, and accompanied by ponzu pickled wakame, dill oil, and sour cream. 
This was followed by a super comforting fish soup with deep-fried egg floss no less! All components are made from scratch here, with an anchovies and roasted sea bass bone broth with an anchovy buttermilk sauce for that creamy base, balanced with the sweet tanginess of confit tomatoes and sliced bittergourd. The sliced poached sea bass is from Ah Hua Kelong for extra freshness because #supportlocal. So dang good. 
Sambal octopus anyone? Think Peranakan rempah and sambal with a blanched octopus, topped with stir-fried greens (and beansprouts urgh) and a confit egg yolk, wrapped in a attap house looking banana leaf. I didn't quite like the texture of this as it was pretty flat and the sambal could have more kick. 
The main course was a baby lamb rack inspired by Alex’s memories of Vietnamese local meat skewers. The New Zealand lamb was marinated with a Vietnamese-style blend of herbs and spices which gave a satay-like flavor to it. The use of a sweet tangy sauce made from locally-sourced stingless bee honey was genius actually, and helped to balance any gaminess. A rotating choice of sides comes with the meat. My vote goes to the fluffy coriander rice.
Endings made sweeter with 2 sweets thanks to Alex's sweet tooth. The first, a house-made coconut ice cream served with pound cake crumble, papaya, and caramelised pineapple. It had a gula melaka kind of milky flavor to it which was absolutely delish. 
The second dessert, “pisang no goreng" was more than what meets the eye. The fried parcel contained a coconut custard and the banana was found in the ice cream instead. I enjoyed this in more ways than i do a goreng pisang. 

Gotta love the variety of eats at Amoy Street and Avenue 87 certainly stands out with their cuisine. They also do offer a lunch set for that midday craving. Their confit duck with yam rice and salted vegetables is calling out to me. 

Avenue 87
47 Amoy Street Singapore 069873 
Tel: +65 9838 8401 / +65 6970 5491 
Monday to Friday: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30 - 10pm
Sat: 5.30 - 10pm
I live for weekends these days for that slight reprieve from work, which has become quite unbearable the past weeks. Before a 3am operations stakeout the day after (hell i'm not even in ops), i managed to squeeze in a dinner at Spago as a reward/encouragement and boy did it help me get through the week. 

The first international offshoot of Wolfgang Puck’s renowned Beverly Hills restaurant, Spago at Marina Bay Sands offer a seasonal menu of Californian cuisine with global accents and you'd find some Singaporean dishes like Kaya Toast and Laksa here. 
The restaurant overlooks part of the pool, which you would not see if dining indoors. On a cool night, i believe it should be quite comfortable dining along the outdoor terrace but i do prefer the classy indoor environment. 
My weakness right there, bread and butter. It took all my willpower not to tear into everything.
A creamy mushroom choux to start us off. 
Truth be told, i didn't expect the "Kaya Toast" ($35) to work as well as it did. Out with the classic pairing of pan-seared foie gras with an acidic fruit compote, at Spago, the buttery liver is balanced with a sweet pandan-coconut jam which actually works. All components of the local kaya toast breakfast is present on the plate- splatters of egg curd, toasted brioche, and even espresso (it went into the foie gras mousse). 
The Charcoal Grilled Octopus ($32) spectacular and i'd highly recommend this. I've not had such a tender octopus leg before and honestly octopus should only be cooked this way. This dish certainly took reference from Japanese cuisine, with the use of Japanese herbs, tempura sea beans, bonito and powdered nori. The accompanying kaffir lime aioli further lifted the dish.
The Agnolotti with Sweet Summer Corn ($28/38) was another pleaser. Lovely little parcels of sweet corn puree, flavored by a savory creamy mascarpone sage sauce and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano. The simple life. Or lux it up with some shaved truffles if you wish.
Iberico Pork Chop ($65) is one massive stunner for any meat lover. The meat, served medium, was a delicate shade of pink in the center. The heavy notes were balanced with a ripe whisky-glazed pears and, lemony fennel, and gremolata. We'd recommend this for sharing if you're a small eater. We ended up bringing half a portion home (which was still great the day after). 
The Japanese Sea Bream “Laksa” ($55) is another rich dish, but slightly more manageable than the pork since the curried coconut broth helps to whet the appetite with the spice. Underneath the crispy seared fish lies the dry fried rice noodles, a more refined and smooth version of the thick bee hoon on the market. 
For desserts, we had the Marina Bay Sands 10th Year Anniversary special salted caramel soufflé ($10) served with a farmer’s market Fuji apple sorbet. Perfect with an espresso! 
Great first experience at Spago, the wait staff are knowledgeable and very friendly. We thought the prices were very affordable even for their tasting menu. We were surprised at the affordable pricing. Be sure to check out their lunch and sunset menu too if you're looking for a deal.

L57, Sands SkyPark, Hotel Tower 2
Lunch: 12pm – 2.30pm daily
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm (Sun – Thu)
Dinner: 6pm – 10.30pm (Fri – Sat)
Stuck in Singapore with nowhere to go? Well one way to beat that wanderlust for a moment is to eat the cuisine instead. That's how we ended up at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, that same restaurant that made the Basque burnt cheesecake a trend in Singapore. We had high expectations since co-founder and chef Alain Devahive's background includes cooking at the legendary El Bulli.
Even during the Phase 2 period of safe distancing measures in Singapore, it's easy to forget that momentarily with the buzzy vibes at Olivia. 
The menu, which is a rotating repertoire of Catalan-style tapas and dishes are split into Bites, Dishes, and Specials. The Bites are more like the typical tapas, think cured meats, croquetas, padron peppers. The Specials are the bigger mains and best for sharing among small groups. The flavors are the heaviest in this category as well. 

We started with the Iberico Ham, Cheese and Truffle “Bikini” ($16). Well, as simple as it may sound, i was surprised by the milky and creamy center of the sandwich with a tinge of sharpness and the light crisp on the exterior. There's even that slight pull that you'd get in a grilled cheese sandwich. I would be very happy to have this every morning. 
Next, a pricey Mushroom and Truffle Croquettes (2pcs/$14). This is an intense mushroom soup encased in a breaded crust essentially. Bite into that golden crispy and out flows a velvety bechamel filling peppered with bites of mushrooms. Delicious it was but mind you it's $7 a pop. 
We toyed with the idea of a Ham, Mozzarella and Truffle Open Omelette ($26) but the flavors would probably be too similar to our appetizers. So the Octopus, Crispy Pork Belly and Potato foam ($38) it was. The kitchen split the dish nicely for the 2 of us even though we're quite happy to share. We were told to swirl the dish as there's some sweet confit onion hidden under the mash. This turned out to be very rich in flavor, mostly due to the starchy "potato foam" (it wasn't very airy). The octopus was fabulously handled by the kitchen and i'd gladly have more of the leg. 
We went with more seafood with the Black Rice with Grilled King Carabineros ($48). The rice is colored black with squid ink which gave the dish the deep sea flavor. Umami it was, and even more so when you squeeze some of that heady elixir from the red prawn heads. I love carabinero prawns for their intense sweetness and delicate scallop-like texture. 
We were absolutely stuffed with the savory dishes but well since Olivia was first made famous by their cheesecake, we simply had to try it for ourselves... right? It turned out to be our biggest mistake. Sorry this ain't no Basque burnt cheesecake and that center wasn't molten, it was just really watery. At first taste, the savory flavors of the cream and blue cheese filling were pleasant but what i didn't expect was this lingering bitterness from the blue cheese that also tasted like cheese rind and that taste lasted the entire night. Mind you, i love blue cheese, but even i hate this version of it. Needless to say, i'd never come back for this. There are also better cheese tarts e.g. Flor Patisserie.
Drinks wise, there're plenty of Spanish wines here to go with the food. We tried their bespoke cocktails instead. The briny Gin Me!! ($20) which uses olive brine, rosemary and elderflower was a savory and refreshing G&T that is martini-like. Jr's Black Beauty ($18) with Sailor Jerry, D.O.M, Blackberries, Lime, and Ginger Ale was way too sweet for my liking. 

The food at Olivia wasn't too bad but as i'm writing this post, i realised that the prices at Olivia has increased tremendously from the time that they first opened and this was across all the food items. The croquettes used to be half the price, which was fair. Anyway, if i were to come back again, i'd probably not order the cheesecake, like ever. Nor would i recommend it to anyone as well. 

Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
55 Keong Saik Road, #01-03, Singapore 089158
+65 6221 0522
Tue- Thu: 12 - 2pm, 6 - 10pm 
Fri - Sat: 12 - 2.30pm, 6 - 10pm
Chef's Table BBQ put the idea into us and so off to Meatsmith to scratch the itch, even if it meant eating dinner at 8pm (because we made a last minute reservation). And of course it had to be full on American smokehouse barbecue at the OG Telok Ayer outlet (Jr also prefers this to the Indian style bbq one at Campbell Road). 
I had reservations about the Platter for 2 ($90) given how small of an eater i am but Jr was very confident about finishing 6 meat items- brisket, pork ribs, pastrami burnt ends, pork belly burnt ends, brisket spring rolls, and fried buffalo wings. Looking at the presentation, you can tell who are the stars. So either go for the slabs of meats first or start with the smaller stuff. 

The brisket spring rolls were smashingly crunchy and filled with sweet shredded meat. A good bite to have to break the meaty monotony. Same goes for the spicy and very acidic buffalo wings. While i didn't have high expectations of them, they do help to spice things up a little. 
The pastrami ends has a super peppery rub on it and was a tad too salty for us. The pork belly was also a little plain despite its paprika spice rub but i assure you that the meat was meltingly good. 
Moving on to the mains, the beef brisket was as expected- smoky on the outside, tender overall, and gelatinous at some parts. Enjoy the natural meaty flavor on its own, or smear a little of the Meatsmith BBQ sauce. The ribs were great too and certainly one of the better ones around with the right amount of sweetness. 
The platter also came with the pickle plate and cornbread. I found the corn bread a tad too crumbly and it was hard to pick up the loose bits but yes that's just nitpicking. Love the flavors though. We also added on the slaw ($6) to refresh our palate. Must say we did pretty well in finishing the meal. 

Desserts are available too, S'mores tart sounded lovely but our stomachs were protesting. Expect a wide variety of whiskeys and bourbons, or perhaps an alcoholic Bourbon sweet tea.

Telok Ayer
167/169 Telok Ayer Street

21 Campbell Lane
Where to for tapas that transports you to Spain? Well you have to visit Esquina, who is OG thatbrought us the authentic Spanish and Catalan flavors. Back in 2011, you have to wait in line at 6pm to snag a seat at this popular joint. I haven't been back since the chefs changed hands but i'm happy to report that Barcelona-born Head Chef Carlos Montobbio is doing a great job still. 
For the first time also, i dined at level 2, which is a flight away from the chaos and squeeziness on the ground floor. I'm not sure if the torturous metal counter chairs have been replaced but it was also impossible to have a proper conversation downstairs with the wide spacing of the seats. If you're on a date, i'd suggest getting a table upstairs. 
We started with the gorgeous thyme & onion bread with smoked sweet paprika butter ($12). The flaky crust gave way to buttery layers within. The flavor of the bread was sufficient on its own but who can resist more umami butter on this one? 

The chorizo ibérico croquetas, piquillo pepper mayo (2pc/$8) were spectacular too. The breaded exterior broke away to reveal a rich creamy center flavored with the smoky meat bits. Certainly a lot more value for money than some other Catalan restaurant nearby. 
A tapas that i've never had before even in Spain was the slow-baked sweet potato with ají amarillo, smoked quail egg, and puffed quinoa ($16). The light sweetness of the sweet potato balanced the sharp Peruvian yellow chili pepper sauce which strangely reminded me of a spicy nacho cheese. The little quail egg on top helped to thicken the sauce further. It was surprisingly pleasurable.  
Any decent Spanish restaurant would be measured by the standard of their pork and Esquina did well. The Spanish pork jowl, chipotle, pickled pear ($16) had the makings of a glorious sio bak- very buttery fats with a thick layer of crispy meat, balanced by a tangy chipotle mayo. The slightly sweetened jelly-like packham pear also helped to cut through the richness of the meat. 
The Grilled Spanish Octopus ($28) is another must-order at Esquina. The texture was spot on with a tender firmness (I hate the overly chewy ones) and there's that slippery layer of jelly between the crispy skin and the meat. The smoked potato foam was an lighter and more airy version of the famed Joël Robuchon potato mash and the chorizo broth added on to the smokiness without the richness of the meat itself. 

I forgot to take a photo of the Pyrenees Milk-fed Lamb with cous cous, “mojo picón” (a garlic pepper sauce) and pickled shimeiji. I've not had lamb this tender and it wasn't too gamey by Jr's standard (he would not pick lamb if given a choice). 
For desserts, the bread, chocolate, olive oil and sea salt has been on the menu for a while and for good reason. A substitute for churros and chocolate befitting of the vibe of the restaurant. 
Our spirits were lifted and refreshed with the Spanish strawberries with sweet basil sorbet, burnt marshmallow, and black olive powder ($15). Love the contrasting grassiness of the basil with the sweet berries. 

Wonderful experience at Esquina, few years too late but i'm glad they're still around! Definitely not my last visit for sure. 

16 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore 089267
+65 6222 1616
Tuesday to Saturday: 12 – 2.30pm, 6 - 10.30pm

I'm a fan of SIRI HOUSE if you don't know. Tucked away in the lush greenery of Dempsey Hill, it is an art space, Collective Market retail store, and restaurant rolled into one. The menu, is one that celebrates the vibrance of the Modern Asian family table. The latest edition is based on the favorite food memories of Head Chef Leo Pang (formerly from Le Benardin) culinary team, and you can expect nostalgic flavors presented in new and inventive ways. 

Start with the bites to go with the apertifis. The restaurant’s signature Chicken Fat Cookie ($12), delightful buttery cookie has been given a face lift. Enhanced by chicken fat, topped with a curry spiced cream with chicken skin bits which eats like curry Twisties and peppered with turmeric mushroom dust, each bite brings back fond memories of snacking in front of the TV. 
The Papadum ($10) eats like an Indian roti prata/nacho, with a dip of curry creama spiced up with bits of smoked fish chili. Chef Leo's favorite childhood dish is roti prata with fish curry and that inspired this snack. We loved the light tang from the sour cream, which is very similar to the acidity in Indian fish curry.