FINE FARE - In the Mood for Food

dining adventures of a food fantatic and dessert devotee in Singapore

East Ocean: Best Value Lobster Noodles

Lobster Noodles in Butter Sauce

Recently discovered at East Ocean Teochew Restaurant... lobster noodles going for $9.80 a plate. This includes fresh half lobster and egg noodles in a light creamy butter sauce. Totally delicious, totally value-for-money.

Tip: Request to "upsize" to a larger lobster, which will only cost you about $14.80.

East Ocean Teochew Restaurant
Shaw Centre #02-181
Scotts Road
Tel: 62359088

11.30 am - 03.00 pm (Lunch - Mon - Fri)
10.00 am - 03.00 pm (Lunch - Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)
6.00 pm - 11.00 pm (Dinner - Mon - Sun)

Bosses Restaurant, Vivocity

Bosses Restaurant's Chinese name is 'Hei Se Hui', which translates to mean 'triads'. With its intriguing name, great view, and cool concept of a secret society themed restaurant, Bosses had the potential to become the next big hit in the Singapore culinary scene. Unfortunately, a winning idea can only take you so far. This restaurant has everything... except good food.

Menus can be a killer weapon during gang fights ...hence for your safety, the menu at the booths are chained to the table. I was looking out for dishes named using secret society lingo, or interesting write-ups on favourite dishes of triad bosses... but the menu is "sleep inducing" generic...

To be fair, the food at Bosses is not bad. It's just very normal. If you would like to give Bosses a try, here are some decent dishes:

Dessert Buns with Custard Cream & Salted Egg Yolks

L-R: Crispy Aromatic Duck; Wasabi Prawns

Bosses Restaurant
1 Harbourfront Walk
#02-156/157 VivoCity
Tel: 6376 9644

Hours: Noon to 11pm daily

da Mario Pizzeria - Robertson Quay

Pizza Paesana - Tomato, cheese, porcini mushrooms and ham ($17)

Where can you find the best thin-crust pizza in Singapore? Prego, Valentino, Da Paolo, La Forketta, Pasta Fresca... These are all good but have fallen short of my benchmark, which is (ironically) a small, dingy shop, serendipitiously chance upon in what may be considered to be bad neighbourhood no less.

My quest to find the best pie led me to da Mario Pizzeria today for lunch.
da Mario serves traditional handmade pizza at affordable prices, between $15 to $18. The most expensive pie, Pizza Paolo E Roberto (with tomato, cheese, ham, mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella cheese) will only make a small dent in your wallet, at $25.

Is the pie any good?
Definitely worth a try. Our pizza was classic, simple, yet tasty. The cheese melted to a perfect mild and creamy consistency, while the sauce was basic but flavourful. Overall, a good balance of crust, cheese, sauce and toppings, which melded together into a pleasing pizza concoction.

What about the crust?
Chef Mario who hails from Abruzzo, Italy, makes his sauces from scratch and prepares fresh pizza dough daily. You can definitely taste the difference in the handmade crust as it's thin but substantial, and not too dry or greasy.
There is however, a small area for improvement, as the crust was crispy at the sides but somewhat soggy in the middle, perhaps due to the heavy toppings.

[Side note: Not sure if this is true but I've heard that handmade pizza is never biscuit-thin or ultra-crispy. For the crispy crust, most restaurants use a special machine known as a dough sheeter which rolls out the dough quickly and evenly. The dough is typically rolled through the sheeter about 5 or 6 times, to get it down to the paper-thin thickness.]

Located at a quiet corner of The Quayside at Robertson Quay, the cozy Pizzeria is an ideal place for a pleasant and relaxing meal. On a cool day, choose to sit at the small, no-frills al fresco dining area for a laid-back lunch.
Chef Mario is friendly and attentive. You can tell that it's important to him that you're enjoying your meal.

da Mario Pizzeria
60 Robertson Quay
#01-10 The Quayside
Tel: 6235 7623

12 to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm (Tue - Sun)

Champagne Tasting on Eve of Labour Day

click on the image to see details

Wine-tasting event for lovers of champagne and sparkling wine on eve of Labour Day.

Hermitage Wines
One Marina Boulevard, #B1-04 (Raffles Place)

30 April 2007 (Monday)

8 - 10 pm

Registration for this event is closed.
Email for information on future tastings.

Marrakesh, Clarke Quay

mixed platter ($26)

Marrakesh, a Moroccan Lounge bar, is one of the many new lifestyle bars at the revitalised Clarke Quay. This is one of Harry's bar, so you can expect the no-surprises, no-frills drinks menu (though some typical drinks have been "exotified" with the word "Moroccan" added to their names), and some variation of jazz music (here's it's supposedly "chill grooves").

Overall, what really sets Marrakesh apart are:

  • Exotic finger food - Interesting variety of middle eastern tapas. Try the mixed platter. It has something for everyone, such as tasty beef, lamb, and chicken shish kabab, pita bread, and salad. Served with different dips - hummus, moutabel, etc.
  • Swings - Swig and swing! Get yourself a table with the swing seats (only 3 available). Seats 2 comfortably. Has it been more than a decade since you last sat on a swing? Here's a chance to get in touch with your inner-child.

A quick review on how Marrakesh compares to some of the other themed-drinking holes at Clarke Quay:

  • The Clinic - Ambience is...well...cold and clinical. A fun experience though, with seats resembling hospital beds and tables segregated with white curtain separators. Drinks are served from test tubes, infusion drip packets and syringes. Downside? Limited seats outside, bar area inside looks drab and boring. Also, we kept expecting to see staff/patrons/anyone who looked like they could be McSteamy or McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy... but guess this place is more like ER... as in...errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... no George Clooney in sight.
  • Highlander Bar & Restaurant - Traditional antler chandeliers, contemporary stills of Scotland, and staff dressed in tartan kilts, this Scottish-themed bar has a warm and inviting feel. The wood-panelled bar features an extensive range of more than 200 whiskies by the glass ($10 - $70 per shot). Highlander serves authentic Scottish cuisine such as Haggis (that's $15 for boiled sheeps' innards - heart, lung, liver - minced with onions, oatmeal and spices encased in sheeps' intestines). Downside? Besides whisky, the drinks menu is unimaginative and limited. They also brew their own beer, but this hasn't received favourable reviews from my friends.
  • Kandi Bar - A tribute to Hed Kandi, Kandi Bar is supposed to be the chill-out, grown-up extension to the Ministry of Sound. Good for pre-clubbing drinks if you're a fan of Hed Kandi music, though the seating arrangement doesn't seem conducive for big groups. Downside? Decor is bright, loud, and orange...Is it only me or does it remind you of Patpong too?

Marrakesh – Moroccan Lounge & Bar
3D, #01-01 River Valley Road
Clarke Quay

Tel: 6338 7331

5.00 pm to 1.00am (Sunday to Thursday)
5.00pm till 2.00am (Friday, Saturday & eve of public holiday)

The Chocolate Factory - Service with a Scowl

Here's an update to the Sept 2006 Chocolate Factory review.

Questions about Service:

  • Why do the proprietors have perma-frowns on their faces?
    Isn't chocolate supposed to make people happy?

  • If the cafe has a "no photos" policy, why is this not communicated upfront?
    A growing community of nice people (family, friends, aquaintances) have been told off rather rudely by the proprietor and his wife that they "do not like people to take photos of the food". [Complimentary pair of perma-frowns included]

  • How come the "no photos" policy did not apply to 2 American models who were allowed to take photos of the shop, cakes and chocolates?
    The trigger happy models, shiny camera in hand, snapped away directly in front of the proprietress and the staff. Well... at least the perma-frown remained a consistent feature.

Shiro Japanese Haute Cuisine, Greenwood Avenue

Sashimi Moriawase
Shiro does to modern Japanese cuisine what Mortons does to steak. Once you try it, your pampered palate will no longer be satisfied with Sushi Tei (and Ichiban Boshi, Waraku, Sakae Sushi…the list goes on).

The Shiro Experience
Tucked away at a non-descript corner of Greenwood Avenue, Shiro has a minimalist façade with perpetually locked doors, a discreet doorbell and imposing security system. With no signage, except for an inconspicuous logo (“Shiro” written in stylised Kanji), this exclusive, reservations-only restaurant evokes an aura of mystery, almost like a secret society’s private clubhouse.

Shiro means ‘white’ in Japanese, symbolizing purity, simplicity and perfection. These qualities permeate every aspect of the restaurant’s aesthetics, from décor to food preparation, to presentation and service. The phrase “unpretentious but with style” neatly sums up the Shiro Experience.

Shiro’s décor is spartan with simple surfaces in neutral tones of beige and brown. There are only about 32 seats, with the tables closely placed, yet this somehow adds to the romantic and intimate ambience. The cozy interior is framed by dark velvet curtains and illuminated by the soft golden hues of evenly spaced spotlights, exuding an effortless air of grace and elegance.

L-R: Zensai (chef's selection of special appetizer platter); Kaki no Gurantan (oyster au gratin)

L-R: Yaki Shirako Kabuba Ankake (grilled cod fish roe with grated turnip served in glazed sauce); Akimono Tofu (freshly made angler fish beancurd)

L-R: Negi Toro Keki (sushi rice bedded with chopped tuna belly and spring onion); Ise Ebi Tazuna Age (deep-fried fresh lobster wrapped with wheat noodles)

Overall, the dishes are a synthesis of creativity and craft, presented with intricate attention to every detail. A truly exciting treat for the taste buds. [Try the Akimono Tofu (angler fish beancurd) and Kaki no Gurantan (oyster au gratin) for their excellent taste intensity!]

The sashimi, flown in almost daily from Tokyo, is incredibly fresh. The Sashimi Moriawase is recommended - the Toro (fatty tuna belly) and Hamachi (young yellowtail) have rich creamy textures that almost melt in your mouth, while the Ama-ebi (shrimp) and Geoduck (elephant clam) are deliciously sweet.

A 5-course set dinner is priced at $180 +++ per person, while set lunches are about $40 - $58 per person. Ala carte dishes and seasonal offers are also available.

The staff are attentive and friendly, taking the time to explain each dish and how it was prepared.
Requests are also tended to quicky and always with a smile.

Shiro Japanese Haute Cuisine
24 Greenwood Avenue
Tel: 6462 2774
Lunch: 12pm - 3pm (last order at 2pm)
Dinner: 7pm - 11pm (last order at 10pm)

Garibaldi, Purvis Street

Tritico di Agnello - Three Style Tasting of Lamb ($40)

A slight digression...
A friend once remarked that first visits to restaurants were like blind dates. The unknown "X" (this could be either your Dinner or your Date) evokes in you a sense of curiosity, excitement, and also slight apprehension. Does "X" look appealing? Would "X" be to your taste?

The anticipation culminates... to a particular defining moment when the realisation hits you --- at this point, you're smiling... having a good think to yourself... "X" is Great... [Of course, on less fortunate occasions, the defining moment could be when you realise that "X" is giving you indigestion. You mutter to yourself "never again!" and end up paying the bill grudgingly.]

My blind date experience can be summed up to the first day at Kindergarten... when my teacher introduced me to my "partner", a snotty boy, who endeavored to spit green beans (one at a time) at me during tea time. As such, I could never really relate to my friend's analogy until I met Garibaldi.

Garibaldi and my X-perience...
If Garibaldi was a blind date, I would start planning the wedding, naming our kids, and be willing to forgo the pre-nup. Often hailed as one of the best Italian restaurants in Singapore, it definitely lives up to its reputation.

First impressions count, and Garibaldi is definitely considered a "good looker". The bar is simple and elegant, with a great selection of wines by the glass and excellent cocktails. Enter the main dining area, and you find decor that is subtle, subdued and stylish --- a picture of understated class.

Background / Qualifications:
Chef and main partner, Roberto Galetti sets the culinary benchmark for fine Italian dining, having worked with one of London's best chefs, Adriano Paganini at the Hyde Park Hotel, as well as with the world renowned Bice Group.

The food is top-notch with fresh seasonal ingredients. Every dish is well executed, each showcasing nuanced, imaginative combinations that are never overwrought or overdone.

A standout among the entrées is the "Tritico di Agnello - Three Style Tasting of Lamb", that includes breaded lamb cutlet with tomato salsa, roasted lamb loin, and braised shank accompanied by pumpkin purée. The three distinct styles of preparation explore the different textures and tastes of the lamb, each a perfect point / counterpoint from the crispy cutlet to the mouthwateringly tender shank.

Note on desserts - We tried the Degustation of Desserts, which didn't quite compare to the main courses. Much too sweet for our liking.

Overall the dining experience is enhanced by the impeccable service --- the staff is attentive and polite, and friendly.

L-R: Foccacia toasted with Parmesan; King Scallops with Porcini Mushroom and Truffled Taleggio Cheese Fondue ($26)

L-R: Linguine with Crab Meat and Vodka Sauce ($28); Hand-made Spinach Noodles with Braised Duck and Paprika ($26)

L-R: Moscato D'Asti 2005 ($90/bottle); Degustation of Desserts with Chocolate Crème Brulee, Saute Banana & Spicy White Chocolate and Earl Grey Parfait with Apricot & Lemon Supreme Jam ($18)


36 Purvis Street #01-02
Tel: 6837 1468

Lunch: 12 Noon - 3:00PM
Dinner: 6:30PM - 11:30PM

Keyaki Japanese Restaurant, Pan Pacific Hotel

Kobe Beef and Seafood Teppanyaki Set

Keyaki at the Pan Pacific Hotel serves excellent teppanyaki. The ingredients used are fresh and skillfully prepared. Definitely a cut above teppanyaki at Inagiku (Raffles the Plaza) and more than a few notches above the over-rated Shima (Goodwood Park Hotel). To compare, Keyaki's style highlights the natural flavour of the ingredients, while Shima relies too heavily on sauces that is somewhat overwhelming to the palate.

The Kobe Beef at Keyaki is particularly recommended. Served in a platter with deep fried garlic, the beef is evenly marbled, incredibly juicy and expertly cut to cook evenly. The result is nothing short of perfection as each velvety piece is so tender, it almost melts in your mouth at a bite. What's more, the robust flavour of the meat leaves you with a pleasant lingering aftertaste.

Sadly, "good teppanyaki" and "not too expensive" don't seem to go together in Singapore. The Kobe Beef and Seafood Teppanyaki Set at Keyaki will set you back by $142+++.

Recommended for:
Teppanyaki fans, business lunches

Keyaki is tucked within a quaint Japanese garden on level 4 of the Pan Pacific Hotel. Walking along the passageway to enter the dining area, you'll pass by a small bridge overlooking a koi pond with a mini cascading waterfall. The entire scene has a rather picturesque quality, as if you've been transported away from the hustle and bustle of the city to a quiet and tranquil haven.

The decor within the restaurant is simple and pleasant, with wooden panels, pillars and celling, and adequate spacing between tables to allow privacy. However, the place does tend to get noisy when the its packed.

Keyaki also serves other Japanese cuisine including robatayaki, sushi and sashimi, tempura, shabu shabu and kaiseki.

Koi pond with a mini cascading waterfall at the restaurant's entrance

Keyaki Japanese Restaurant
Level 4, Pan Pacific Hotel
7 Raffles Boulevard
Marina Square
Tel: 6826 8335
Lunch: 12 noon to 2:30 pm
6:30 pm to 10:00 pm

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