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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Dinner at LeVel 33 @ MBFC Tower 1 (revisit)

8 Marina Boulevard #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Tower (MBFC) Tower 1, Singapore 018981
Tel: 6834 3133

After a fabulous lunch experience at LeVel 33 some months back (read review here), I decided to return here for dinner and drinks - for the magnificent views and freshly brewed craft beers. After all, *Fay and hubby were in town, and it was the Christmas season.

We started with a round of beers - and the ladies (3 of us) all had the Chestnut Beer, the specials of the season - overtures of aromatic chestnuts lending a nutty flavor (duh) to the smooth beer. *A had the Indian Pale Ale (malty, bitterish) and *D had the Blond Lager (light-bodied with fruity hints).

For food, we had a Seafood Medley (SGD$88.00) for sharing - a selection of pickled, marinated, cured and smoked seafood with caper berries and sauce tartare. The array of smoked salmon, prawns and squids were tasty, though the smoked salmon was a little on the salty side. The squids were juicy and chewy and plump the way I love them.

We also ordered a Gnocchi (SGD$39.00) as well, since there were 5 of us - slow braised shredded lamb shoulder, potato pasta, pine nuts, cranberry, red wine jus, goat cheese and sage. The potato pasta was sticky like glutinous rice balls, but lighter in texture, with a more powdery interior. The shredded lamb strips were most delicious in taste, and complements the potato pasta extremely well.

Overall, it was another beautiful dining experience here, with stunning views of the cityscape out the windows.

Afternoon Tea at Fruit Paradise Cafe @ Raffles City Shopping Centre

252 North Bridge Road #B1-44F, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103
Tel: 6333 4849

Fruit Paradise serves beautiful fruit tarts topped with fresh fruits and lightly-sweetened cream, a healthy dessert place that also offers savoury food items such as Japanese Curry Rice etc. The fruit tarts are also free of preservatives and are baked fresh daily.

I had the Weekly Tea Set (SGD$9.80) comprising of slice of tart of choice, and a drink of choice. I selected the Blueberry Tart and Pink Rose Buds Tea. It was very worth it and the cup of tea was huge, made with fresh rose buds floating in the tea and giving it its essential aroma + flavor.

The Blueberry Tart (U.P. SGD$6.80 a slice) is my all-time favorite here despite having tried quite a few tarts over the years. It was a larger huge wedge out of the giant tart as well, with a most crunchy, buttery-fresh tart base topped with a fluffy but solid cake fill and lots of fresh blueberries atop the fresh cream. Besides juicy and plump blueberries, there were also many cubes of glass jelly in the mix, giving this dessert a variety a soothing touch.

I love it, and would come back again, and again just for it.

On a sidenote, they also do take-aways and birthday tarts. We got an assortment for *Charmaine's birthday three years back before. The Mixed Berries Chocolate Tart is one of my favorites here as well, with lots of fresh, juicy fruits in their natural flavors (not artificially-sweetened) atop fresh cream and crispy crust.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lunch at Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice @ Balestier

401 / 403 Balestier Road, Singapore 329803
Tel: 6256 0138

Boon Tong Kee is, and always has been my favorite place for a good chicken rice meal, because of the excellent service, good variety of food, quality of food and comfortable ambience. Hence, when *Faye and the hubby were in town, this was the place to bring them for some local delicacy.

We started with some Braised Peanuts (SGD$2.00) which were big, round and soft; and a pot of hot Chinese Tea (SGD$2.00).

Next, we had the Spinach with Assorted Egg (SGD$10.00) dish for some balance. The spinach was cooked soft and tender, the gravy well-flavored with 3 types of eggs - chicken egg, century egg and salted egg.

Then each had a bowl of fragrant Chicken Rice (SGD$0.80 each), with their signature Soft-boiled Chicken (SGD$15.00). The chicken was well-oiled but not greasy; it was succulent and juicy in its freshness. The pairing with fragrant ginger-garlic infused rice was good comfort food but not in-your-face impressive (could it be because this is Cantonese style instead of Hainanese style?), but nonetheless it was delicious enough we finished every single grain.

Following that, we had the Deep-fried Stuffed Fritters (SGD$8.00) - a very crispy fried dough rolls stuffed with tasty salad cream. The combination gives a lovely bite to it - crispy, chewy, creamy all in one.

Last but not least, we had the mandatory Crispy Fried Beancurd (SGD$6.00) with a gorgeous golden outlook, a very crispy exterior and melt-in-your-mouth interior, like molasses literally. The palate loves it - imagine biting into something that literally crumbles and melts in your mouth in a heap of deliciousness; the sensation was simply amazing.

All in all, the three of us spent SGD$56.10 for lunch, a satisfying and worthy lunch.

For other Chicken Rice reviews done by me, please feel free to visit the following:
(i) Five Star Chicken Rice @ Bukit Timah
(ii) Loy Kee Chicken Rice @ Balestier
(iii) Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice @ United Square

Monday, 29 December 2014

[Media Invite] Dinner at Outback Steakhouse @ MIlenia Walk

9 Raffles Boulevard #01-114 Millenia Walk, Singapore 049596
Tel: 6837 3242

This is a media invite and my pleasure to dine again with the representatives of Hungrygowhere, Ivan, Sihan, Desmond and Li Tian.  The host of the night was Desmond, who has been with Outback Steakhouse for eighteen (18) years! He has been really hospitable and helpful with our requests, explaining each dish in detail and of course, ensuring we were very comfortable while tasting.

Located at Millemia Walk, and a favorite steakhouse around for more than a decade, we are once again brought back here as a reminder, and refresher of good steaks by Outback Steakhouse.

An authentic American steakhouse featuring comfortable big vinyl booth seats as well as a bar counter for patrons to enjoy a hearty meal and drinks - Outback Steakhouse practices strict quality control / standardisation of its branding and food across the globe. Hence, the sauce sauce and recipes are all from the HQ in the States, and all changes / improvisions to the menus have to be approved by the HQ as well.

We started with some appetisers, such as the Chicken Wings - tossed in spices and served with cool blue cheese dressing on the sides. The chicken wings are spicy and one may choose between mild, medium or hot levels. There are also celery sticks served together, and they go well with the very lovely blue cheese dip - even for someone who doesn't know how to appreciate blue cheese like myself, I found myself warming to this irresistable dip.

As for the chicken wings, they were tasty and crispy, but we thought they were more salty than spicy.

Next, there was the Bushman Bread - also otherwise nicked the "sweet brown honey molasses bread" - soft, but with a lovely touch of chewiness to it.

Nachos are just nachos, what am I saying right? Oh well, these crispy corn chips come with a plate of tantalising blue cheese dips - one could find chunks of blue cheese in them literally; and they are prepared for at least 3 hours so rest assured that the dip is definitely exploding with flavor.

Following that, we tried the Bloomin' Onion aka Onion Rings (SGD$14.50) and it is a huge portion, all stacked nicely with spicy dip atop. The onion rings are crumbly outside, thinly coated so that one could really taste the crunchiness of the fresh onions within. A couple of us thought that the onion rings (without even the dip) were a tad too salty.

The Chicken Cobb Salad was served next - a large platter of lettuce, chicken, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, Cheddar and Monterey Jack slices and bacon etc. It was delicious, a little like Caesar Salad with Chicken, and is served with blue cheese sauce on the side as well. The fresh greens were definitely very welcoming in this meaty feast tonight.

After that, we had the Alice Springs Chicken that was actually chicken breast that came in a thick armor of honey mustard, cheese, sauteed mushrooms and crispy bacon. The result was an explosion of flavors and textures but undeniably a piquant indulgence for the palate.

Finally, onto the red meats. We enjoyed the Ribeye Steak (SGD$37.90) which was well-marbled, juicy - it was also seasoned and seared in their 17-spices blend. We were served the Medium Rare steak and the Medium Well one, but opted for the former because it was more succulent. I did enjoy the fine texture and exotic flavor of this dish. The roasted garlic mashed potato on the side was scrumptious as well.

The other steak we had was the Prime Rib served with Corn on the Cob and Sweet Baked Potato (with honey butter and brown sugar). This was ordered in Medium Rare doneness as well, and it was very tender. I did the cutting of the meat for everyone, and the knife sliced through it rather easily. The luscious flavour was not too strong, and would be ideal paired with a glass of reds. Some of the others enjoyed the sweetcorn and the sweet potato as well.

We also had the Baby Back Ribs with were nearly succulent enough to fall off its rack literally - nearly. The flesh was juicy and I love the charred smokey hints amongst the saccharine deliciousness of the Outback homemade BBQ sauce it was varnished in. The fries were very crispy as well.

Enough of red meats - now moving on to something fresh from the seas, we tasted the Grilled Salmon (SGD$26.90) -  Chilean Salmon filet seasoned and seared to a succulent perfection - this lightweight but delectable dish easily won our hearts and became our favorite for the night.

Time for desserts, finally, and we were already feeling very full at this point in time.

Nonetheless, we dug in immediately when the Cinnamon Oblivion (SGD$13.90) was served. A beautiful concoction of old-fashioned vanilla ice-cream topped with homemade whipped cream, warm cinnamon apple cubes, cinnamon croutons, pecans and caramel sauce. This was a delightful dessert that was kind to the palate - not too sweet, and the cinnamon apple cubes were just simply refreshingly lovely.

Then we attacked the Banana Nut Cake (SGD$12.90) - a chewy, bouncy, sticky and porous cake beneath old-fashioned vanilla ice-cream, homemade whipped cream with banana, toffee and nuts. I loved the cake's texture, and the nuts added a touch of crunch to the palatable dessert.

Finally, the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under (SGD$14.90) - a rich pecan brownie topped with old-fashioned vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce and shavings and of course, their homemade whipped cream. The entire taste is rich and a very satisfying indulgence, especially for those who love a thick chocolately brownie - well, I do.

For drinks, I had a Mojito - tasty enough with a distinctive dash of rum, but would be better with a heavier dash of lime and mint in my humble opinion.

And lastly, the Watermelon Margarita - a refreshing flavor for a margarita. This softly sweet and cooling beverage was utterly lovely, especially after a hot and heavy meal of savoury dishes; one couldn't help drinking it all in huge slurps.

All in all, it was a great dining experience at Outback Steakout @ Millenia Walk -  thank you Outback Steakout and Donald.  And thank you once again, Hungrygowhere for organisating this, and the invite.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Buffet Breakfast at Cafe Brio's @ Grand Copthorne Waterfront

392 Havelock Road, #1F, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Singapore 169663
Tel: 6233 1100

Cafe Brio's is located at the lobby level of Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, a distinctive cafe with a lovely piano and clean-cut counters offering international buffet with a heavy Asian touch to it.

If one prefers, they could choose to sit outdoors and dine alfresco by the river and enjoy some breezes caressing their faces over their meals. It looks more electrifying at night, but we were there for breakfast / brunch - served between 6.30am - 10.30am daily.

The spread was rather wide - ranging from the usual breakfasty stuff such as pancakes, yogurt, assortment of pastries, crispy bacon, hash brown , ham and cereal etc.  The pastries were crispy and fluffy - fresh, and tasty.

Then there were fruits, congee with ingredients on the side, eggs, baked beans, array of juices and some noodles.  We had a rather balanced brunch, I must say.

The food was good, and the music was soothing. The service crew was rather courteous, hence it made the dining experience awesome.

Breakfast pricing per pax is SGD$23.00 for Continental delights and SGD$30.00 for American - go for the latter, there's more variety.

Drinks at Ku De Ta @ MBS

1 Bayfront Avenue, Tower 3 Level 57 SkyPark, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018971
Tel: 6688 7688

A vibrant and classy club lounge perched on level 57 of Marina Bay Sands itself, with pulsating music, an inviting dance floor and magnificent views of the cityscape, Ku De Ta is the place to kick back your heels and have loads of fun with friends over drinks.

Five of us began with a round of Cosmopolitan. I must admit that their drinks are generously infused with dashes of alcohol so they taste good, not diluted like some lounges.

Then there were the Flaming Lamborghinis - sweet, creamy drinks with a slight dash of minty flavor and heated up with flames - secretly one of my favorite cocktails. We took turns to order drinks.

Next, there was a round of Mojitos (SGD$25.00) each - this was ordered by me. These drinks were potent, delicious but I felt that the mint taste was not prominent enough.

After a round of dancing on the dance floor, the next drinks we had were the Mai Tais - sweet, sweet serenades they were, and so lovely I could sip them all up like juices.

Finally, we ended the fabulous evening with some Old Fashioned - very potent and bitter, so it took us a while to polish the drinks off.

Overall, we enjoyed Ku De Ta very much and would surely be back.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing Day Tea Break @ Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe (revisit)

Blk 212 Hougang Street 21, #01-333 Singapore 530212
Tel: 6988 4591

After my last visit here, I decided to head back for a Boxing Day gathering with *Katherine for their waffles. In the end, I came back twice in a day - the second time with *L and *J as well, shortly after I parted ways with *Katherine. This time, there was a slight difference with the addition of adorable Christmas decor, giving the cafe a festive vibe.

*Katherine had a coffee and I had a Raspberry Vanilla Latte (SGD$7.50) - sweet but not overly so, and thick, creamy with a fresh raspberry taste. While it was nice enough, I kept thinking there was a somewhat cough-mixture-ish flavor to this drink.

Nonetheless, the Vanilla Waffle with Salted Caramel Sauce (SGD$8.90) did not disappoint. *Katherine and I ordered one, and then when I was back here with *J and *L, we ordered the exact same waffle again.

The waffle was still crispy on the outside as ever, with the inside so good it melted in the mouth. The vanilla ice-cream was the "icing on the cake" literally, adding a touch of cold sweetness to the piping hot waffle. The salted caramel sauce was deliciously slathered around the waffle for flavor improvisation.

When I returned, *L and I both ordered hot teas (SGD$3.20 each). I had some Christmas tea, we three of us shared a Vanilla Waffle with Salted Caramel Sauce again. Actually, thinking in retrospect, we should have ordered the Chocolate or Pandan waffle this time round, just to try a different flavor.

Overall, it is a pretty little cafe with funky decor and delicious desserts - and though located under a HDB block, it does not lose out to any other cafe in town. A quirky enough cafe, but not to be confused with the Mad Hatter cafes in New York or UK.