Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Fish & Co. Under 500 Calories Menu – Matthew Fam

Enjoying the same great recipes from Fish & Co. without bursting your calorie budget? This is totally possible with the restaurant’s new Under 500 Calories Menu. 

It’s no secret that we love to dine out. According to a 2010 health survey, 60% of Singaporeans eat out at least 4 times a week. However, dining out doesn’t always mean eating healthily. Firstly, it’s hard to gauge how many calories you’re consuming when your meal is presented on a large platter. We tend to finish whatever is on our plates, as we psychologically feel full only after its been cleared. This gives way to consuming excess calories.

How then, can we strike a balance with maintaining our calorie intake while still enjoying our favourite restaurant meals? Enter the new Under 500 Calories Menu by Fish & Co.

Healthier Portions of the Same Recipes You Love

Fish & Co.'s Under 500 Calories Menu contains 11 portioned dishes so you don't burst your calorie budget.

Fish & Co.’s Under 500 Calories Menu contains 11 portioned dishes so you don’t burst your calorie budget.

Fish & Co. partners with the Health Promotion Board to offer portioned-controlled meals that are less than 500 calories. The restaurant’s Under 500 Calories Menu features 11 favourite Fish & Co. dishes that have been re-portioned to cater to healthier diets.

You are even given a choice on how you wish to have the dish served. Sides are interchangeable- so you can opt for a serving of steamed vegetables in place of rice, for instance, while still keeping the dish below the set calorie amount.

Plus, these portion-controlled dishes are priced at 40% off their standard counterparts. Set from $7.95 to $11.95, you can do away with the misconception of paying more for healthier food, and enjoy them at reasonable prices.

Clinical dietician, Jaclyn Reutens explaining the importance of portion control.

Clinical dietician Jaclyn Reutens explaining the importance of portion control.

Why 500 Calories?

Clinical dietician Jaclyn Reutens, was at the event to share how this magical number came into play. She tells us that the recommended intake of calories for females is pitched at approximately 1700 calories. Sounds manageable? A single food court meal can go up to 800 calories per serving. And that’s not inclusive of the desserts we usually enjoy after! With this set target of 500 calories per meal, you can easily fit three within each day and sneak in a snack- all while keeping within your calorie allowance.

The Taste Test

Seafood Spaghetti, 376kcal.

Seafood Spaghetti, 471kcal. $10.95.

 

When I first ordered the Seafood Spaghetti, I thought having smaller portions meant measly smatterings of seafood chunks. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find my plate dressed with ample servings of prawn, squid, and mussels.

Moreover, with the option of having whole wheat pasta, one serving of this dish gives you 7g of fibre (out of a daily recommendation of 20g). I liked how its tomato-base sauce had the right amount of tang to compliment the seafood.

 

Grilled Salmon Cajun, 443 kcal.

Grilled Salmon Cajun, 443 kcal. $11.95.

 

I was also pleased to know that the same great taste of my favourite Fish & Co. dish (the Grilled Salmon Cajun) was not compromised, even though its portion had been reduced. The fillet wasn’t overcooked and remained succulent on the inside.

Even though I didn’t finish one serving feeling completely filled, the portions are adequate. Fish & Co.’s Under 500 Calories Menu isn’t designed to be a feast of epic proportions, but is instead a sensible way to enjoy the restaurant’s tasty dishes without breaking the calorie bank. Be it an outing with family, friends or dates, these portioned servings will satisfy your cravings and keep waistlines in check.

 

Material World was invited for a tasting at Fish & Co. and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and contributing beauty assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. Follow him on Instagram at @mattjfam.

 

 

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Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Platters Bistro & Wine Bar with Jeremy Nguee – Deborah Tan

Preparazzi is basically a chef-on-call service where you can engage Jeremy Nguee’s team to provide excellent F&B for your private dinner parties or your events. Preparazzi also does a “gourmet tingkat (tiffin meals)” service for those who want to eat well and healthily but have no time to bother with the shopping and the cooking. And if splashing out on an awesome caterer isn’t in your books, don’t fret; you can sample food by Jeremy at Platters Bistro & Wine Bar. Located on Club Street, Platters is centered on the concept of communal dining, where people share and eat off a platter of food.

Every four months, the restaurant will collaborate with a chef from Singapore to design 6 platters. From now till end of February 2014, chef Jeremy Nguee’s creations for Platters will be available at the restaurant.

Material World was invited two weeks ago to sample Jeremy’s creations and here’s what we have to say:

Thunder Thighs & Crackpot Rice
A platter of French frog legs, soft shell crab, crab roe rice with butter & bacon, and Tobiko & Hollandaise.

Thunder Thighs & Crackpot Rice, from $38

Thunder Thighs & Crackpot Rice, from $38

We found the frog legs tender (Jeremy first soaks the legs in milk) and the rice, an indulgent creation that uses pork lard and topped off with crab roe sauce, extremely addictive. Although this platter’s two “main” things – the frog legs and the soft shell crab – are both deep fried, you will not get the “oily”, “heavy” feel usually associated with, say, a basket of fried seafood. The bacon bits may have added a “sinful” touch but we found them unnecessary given that the Tobiko & Hollandaise already provided a nice brine-y complement to the platter. Still, this is not something we would order because it is kind of like fancy fried pub grub.

The Maniac Meat Main Course
A platter of grilled Angus sirloin, truffle roast spring chicken, home-made foie gras terrine with buah keluak butter, maple candied bacon, fat potatoes, grape jelly and charcoal crumbs.

The Maniac Meat Main Course, from $48

The Maniac Meat Main Course, from $48

Now, you will understand why we won’t order the above platter once you see this one. We would have liked to sum it all up in one word because describing it while you are hungry is just pure torture. But here goes … the buah keluak (a traditional Nonya dish) shell is stuffed with butter mixed with smoky buah keluak paste. Social dining etiquette demands you should share it but really, if you can get hold of one entire thing, just shove your fork in and scoop the wondrous creation into your mouth before anyone says, “Share leh.” At the tasting, the kitchen had to bring out EXTRA buah keluak butter because we simply could not get enough of it.

But enough of the “side dish”. The mains are just as awesome. Chef Jeremy has the kitchen make the terrine from scratch. It’s not some bottled paste you can from a supplier, this is made fresh. The steak is juicy, cooked to the right done-ness. Even though chicken is hardly my favourite meat, I found myself asking for a second piece.

Meat-lovers, you will love this platter. Trust us on that. Perhaps what the chef can consider is serving a basket of freshly baked warm bread with it so we can have one more conduit to deliver the heavenly buah keluak butter into our mouths.

The one word we would use to describe this platter? AWESOME.

Coffee Caramel Delight
A dessert platter of caramel fondant, coffee jelly, vanilla ice cream, chili chocolate crumb and peanut brittle. 

Coffee Caramel Delight, $16

Coffee Caramel Delight, $16

There is another dessert platter you can order but we prefer this one way more. It’s the kind of dessert platter you feel you don’t want to share. Really. If you want to leave Platters with your friendship intact, we strongly recommend you each get one. There is no need to pretend that you want to “sample” each element to fully savour the flavours. Best way to eat this is to combine a little bit of everything onto a spoon, put it inside your mouth, and wait for the orgasmic explosion of bitter, sweet, smoky, crunchy, nutty, soft, and creamy, to happen.

The peanut brittle leaves the most distinctive impression with its texture while the coffee jelly makes this platter an “adult” dessert with its roasted bitter note. Overall, this is definitely something one person can handle easily … oh, we said that already?

This Platters menu by Jeremy Nguee will run till end February 2014. Platters Bistro & Wine Bar is located at 42 Club Street (Tel: 6223 8048). It is closed on Sundays. Material World was invited to a food tasting by the restaurant. All opinions are the author’s own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She is craving for some steak for breakfast. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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1. Food Review: The Chop House

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Food Review: The Chop House – Tan Lili

Three words: Self-serve beer taps.

Well, I was pretty much sold when I was introduced to this concept at gastro-bar The Chop House, even before the food tasting session began. But lest you think yours truly loves her alcohol a little too much, allow me to explain how tremendously awesome self-serve beer taps are.

Called SelfTap Beer, this concept from USA is a first in Asia. There are five taps located at The Chop House for your drinking pleasure. Based on regular or happy hour rates, you’ll be charged by the millimetres. How it works is that you need to first purchase a stored value card from the cashier for $5, then top it up with any amount you want. Tap your card against the SelfTap reader, which unlocks the tap so you can pull your own pint. You’ll be able to see the amount deducted from you card and how much you have left. Once you’ve pulled your fill, tap your card again to lock the tap. Voila!

Perfect for an epic night out with your buddies!

Perfect for an epic night out with your buddies!

At the moment, Mac’s Great White Cloudy Wheat Beer (New Zealand) and Pure Blonde Premium Lager (Australia) are available at all five SelfTap stations, three of which are located at three six-seater dining tables – perfect for a great night out with friends after a long workweek.

Besides SelfTap Beer, The Chop House is also home to yet another first-in-Asia concept: it utilises a specially designed tap system that keeps brews constantly chilled at one degree Celsius from keg to glass. There are six beers on tap: Schneider Wiesse Tap 7 (Germany), Weihenstephan Original Lager (Germany), Mac’s Great White Cloudy Wheat Beer (New Zealand), Pure Blonde Premium Lager (Australia), Stellar Artois Lager (Belgium) and Kronenberg Lager (France). Prices start from $8 for 300ml. Iced cold beer, anyone?

Butcher's Bleeding Mary, $16

Butcher’s Bleeding Mary, $16

No? Well, then, choose from the menu’s 15 specialty cocktails, each $16. An interesting one is Butcher’s Bleeding Mary, a concoction of blended Roma tomatoes, tabasco, vodka, lemon, sugar cane and rosemary. Don’t be surprised when you see a piece of smoked bacon next to the celery stick in your glass! I tried Smith & Co, a blend of Smith’s Glenlivet 12, lemon, Tahitian lime, orange, brown sugar, cherry bitters and Coca-Cola. The slight bitterness balances out the citrusy flavours, making it a refreshing perk-me-up.

Of course, The Chop House isn’t just about great drinks. Dreamt up by the same people behind Wooloomooloo Steakhouse Singapore, this gastro-bar serves up classic western favourites, such as burgers and steaks.

To whet your appetite, try the homemade Mussel Soup ($10). The broth is delightfully creamy and flavourful, complementing the freshness of the New Zealand green-lipped mussels.

Berkshire Pork Chop

Berkshire Pork Chop, $32

Meat-lovers will be very pleased with the mains. One of the must-tries is Berkshire Pork Chop ($32). Grilled to pink-centred perfection, the meat is glazed with hoisin and black bean chilli sauce – lip-smackingly good! Another great dish is the USDA Prime Ribeye ($36, 200g). Tender, juicy, and filled with fat we can’t complain, it is exactly what you would expect from the reputable Wooloomooloo Steakhouse. I’m not exaggerating when I say that a collective moan of pleasure could be heard the moment we bit into this steak during the tasting session.

With any of The Chop House’s meat specialties, three complimentary homemade condiments – Beetroot Chutney, Chilli Mustard, and Onion Jam – will be served. My favourite is Onion Jam, which goes perfectly with Berkshire Pork Chop.

If you prefer non-meat dishes, you can’t go wrong with the fresh Mixed Seafood Platter for two ($42), which consists of salmon, prawns and calamari stuffed with herbs and breadcrumbs.

Apple Strudel in Tortilla with Vanilla Ice Cream, $11

Apple Strudel in Tortilla with Vanilla Ice Cream, $11

Now, I’m a desserts-before-main-course kind of girl, but the one thing that didn’t quite make the cut for me at The Chop House was the dessert we tried: Apple Strudel in Tortilla with Vanilla Ice-Cream ($11). While the vanilla ice cream and custard cream anglaise tasted heavenly together, the tortilla bread felt a tad tough.

But, with their cool SelfTap Beer concept and super-scrumptious mains, The Chop House is definitely worth checking out.

The Chop House is located at #01-161/162 VivoCity, Tel: 6376 9262.

Material World was invited for a tasting and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Drinks & Parties, Food News, Lifestyle

Indulge Yourself At Tiong Bahru Bar

Tiong Bahru, known for its yummy food and quaint architecture, is definitely a place to chill out on a lazy Sunday. And giving you the chance to do it for free, with Material World and Paco Rabanne, is Tiong Bahru Bar!

That’s right! The gastrobar is providing our 20 participants to our Sunday Sizzle with a delectable brunch. The menu looks like this:

Starter
Choice of Soup or House Salad

Main Course
Choice of Fish and Chips or Prawn Aglio Olio

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Prawn Aglio Olio

Prawn Aglio Olio

Dessert
Churros

End your brunch with Churros!

End your brunch with Churros!

And you know you won’t be disappointed with the food because TBB (as it’s fondly called) is owned by Chris Chong, the guy behind The Disgruntled Chef, and his cousin Bernard Seah. The mastermind behind the food is none other than The Disgruntled Chef’s Executive Chef Daniel Sia, whose culinary skills have earned him a following amongst foodies in Singapore.

TBB opens for lunch and dinner. For the office crowd who wants to chill out after work, TBB provides an eye-watering selection of wine, beer, and whisky. So if you want to stay behind for a tipple after our Sunday Sizzle, feel free to do so … just make sure the bootcamp trainer leaves first!

TBB Interior

If you want to sample TBB’s food with Material World and Paco Rabanne, be sure to sign up for our Sunday Sizzle now!

Tiong Bahru Bar is located at 3 Seng Poh Road. Tel: 6438 4360. Tiong Bahru Bar is the official food partner for Material World’s Sunday Sizzle on November 17 2013. This event is held in conjunction with Paco Rabanne, the official fragrance partner.

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Food Review: Nara Thai Cuisine – Tan Lili

Nara Thai Cuisine replaces Burger King, at Ion Orchard

Nara Thai Cuisine replaces Burger King, at Ion Orchard

It’s been a long-awaited moment for some; touted as one of Thailand’s best restaurants, Nara Thai Cuisine is now open for business in Singapore.

First, a bit of history: Nara Thai Cuisine was launched in Thailand in 2006, with the aim of bringing the best of Thai street food into a comfortable air-conditioned restaurant. Since then, it’s opened two more branches in the country. Nara Thai Cuisine prides itself on using only the highest quality ingredients while retaining authenticity through age-old recipes. Its opening in Singapore marks Nara Thai Cuisine’s first overseas outlet – and going by Singaporeans’ love of all things spicy and Thai street food, I wouldn’t be surprised if another branch pops up on this island soon.

But does the food live up to its claim? After all, you’d be hardpressed to find better-tasting street food than those on the, well, streets. Our verdict: If you love spicy Thai cuisine and have some cash to splash, go ahead and give this a shot.

For appetisers, a must-try is Larb Tord ($13.90) – these deep-fried spicy pork balls are quite something else. The Hors d’oeuvre Nara ($17.90), a selection of appetisers like Thai fish cakes, pandan chicken and satay, is not as spectacular as Larb Tord, but makes for a good sharing dish. Typically a balanced mix of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, the pomelo salad here at Nara Thai Cuisine – Yum Som O ($13.90) – leans heavily on the sweet side.

Yum Som O (pomelo salad) and Hors d’oeuvre Nara (a mix of Thai appetisers)

Yum Som O (pomelo salad) and Hors d’oeuvre Nara (a mix of Thai appetisers)

Of course, what’s Thai cuisine without Tom Yum soup? But here’s a dare for you: try Kaeng Som Cha Om Jung Sod ($17.90). Consisting of prawns and fried dill pattie omelette, this soup is tongue-numbingly spicy. In fact, I’d recommend that you treat the soup as gravy instead and pour it over your rice if you value your taste buds.

Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee (stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry)

Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee (stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry)

Speaking of spicy, one mouthful of the Moo Phad Kra Pao ($13.90) – stir-fried pork with chilli and hot basil – almost made me jump out of my seat. Okay, to begin with, I’m not the greatest fan of spicy food, but chilli-lover Denise also agrees that this dish is only for the hard-core eaters. A safer option for non-spicy eaters like me would be Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee ($18.90), or stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry. While the curry tastes a little like MSG and isn’t spicy at all, its saltiness and flavour go great with the soft shell crab.

Regrettably, we didn’t stay for the desserts. The menu offers quite a good selection of sweet treats, such as I-Thim Nara – coconut ice cream served with a selection of Thai sweet condiments, like red ruby, nata de coco and even jackfruit. For drinks, try their signature cocktail and mocktail concoctions. Nara Thai Cuisine Singapore has partnered with bespoke cocktail bar Bar Stories to create said concoctions, namely, the Siamese Sour, a mix of Kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar and calamansi whiskey sour; the Bangkok Rose, made up of soursop, calamansi, rose and vodka; and the non-alcoholic Agar Fizz, a combo of lemongrass, calamansi, and lemongrass agar agar.

Nara Thai Cuisine is located at #B3-21 Ion Orchard (replacing Burger King), Tel: 6634 5787.

Material World was invited to a tasting at Nara Thai Cuisine and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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The 2 Snowskin Mooncakes I Would Buy – Deborah Tan

It’s the time of the year again when I get asked left right center whether I prefer snowskin mooncakes or the traditional baked ones. Apparently, every year a lot of emphasis is placed on mooncakes because they are restaurants’ and hotels’ most commercially successful festival food. Yep, even more so than Chinese New Year goodies and Christmas log cakes.

My answer? Baked ones, if I have to choose.

Because my all-time ultimate favourite mooncakes are the Teochew flaky ones with a sweet-savoury paste rumoured to be made from pork lard. My grandmother used to buy these huge lard-cakes (that’s what my sister and I call them) from Geylang. Some people have told me that would be Thye Moh Chan – the pastry brand that was bought over by Breadtalk when it announced it would be closing shop, but since I can find no mention of lard in any of the pastries on the brand’s website, I don’t want to jump to any conclusion.

I will always miss my lard cakes.

Personally, I dislike snowskin mooncakes the most. I hate the liberties that have been taken with them in terms of flavours, and I hate that they always turn out too sweet. I have not met a snowskin mooncake I like … until I was given the ones by St Regis’ Yan Ting.

Although there are 5 flavours from St Regis’ Yan Ting’s lineup of snowskin mooncakes this year and only two won me over.

1. Pure “Mao Shan Wang” Durian Snowskin Mooncake ($108 for 8)
I don’t like durians so these were given to Denise and Lili to try. As they cut into the mooncakes, I was assaulted by a powerful acrid pong that sent my head spinning. If that was any indication of how “durian-ish” this mooncake is, I think durian-lovers will love this one. I could even see the fruit fibres in the paste when Denise brought a piece to her mouth. Yuck for me, yay for them.

st-regis-green-tea-snowskin

Green Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Melon Seeds

2. Green Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Melon Seeds ($66.80 for 8)
My favourite of the lot! The green tea flavour was distinctive without being overpowering. There was a certain cleanness to the taste of this mooncake. It wasn’t too sweet and the paste was definitely not cloying. The snowskin, thankfully, wasn’t sticky and my knife went through the whole cake cleanly.

3. Mixed Berries Snowskin Mooncake with Strawberry Paste ($66.80 for 8) 
My least favourite. Too sweet, too much berry-flavour, and the entire thing tasted like strawberry-custard pudding. From what I’ve observed over the years of dating an “ang moh”, these fruity flavours tend to go down better with foreign palates. I guess it’s because these taste the closest to a western dessert. For me, I just wish people would stop adding berries to mooncakes.

st-regis-purple-sweet-potato-snowskin

Purple Sweet Potato Snowskin Mooncake

4. Purple Sweet Potato Snowskin Mooncake ($66.80 for 8)
An unexpected favourite. Sweet potato is not a tuber I would voluntarily eat. Whenever I dine out and the dish has “sweet potato fries” on the side, I always request for them to be changed to normal ones. But I was told this was very good so I took a bite. It was very good. None of the sweet, earthy flavours you tend to associate with sweet potatoes. The sweetness in this mooncake comes through only as an aftertaste. Perfect with Chinese tea, this is a very light snowskin mooncake that would find favour in those without a sweet tooth.

st-regis-royal-milk-tea-champagne-truffle-mooncake

Royal Milk Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Red Bean Paste and White Chocolate Champagne Truffle

5. Royal Milk Tea Snowskin Mooncake with Red Bean Paste and White Chocolate Champagne Truffle ($68.80 for 8)
I was most disappointed with this. I like tea, I like Champagne … but put them together, the result wasn’t quite what I expected. Everything went well until I bit into the Champagne Truffle. I hate Champagne truffles in mooncakes because I feel most people put them in there for “gimmick purpose”. The well-balanced sweet and milky flavours of this mooncake was abruptly ended by the sharpness of the Champagne. If break-up had a flavour, this mooncake would be it.

Until someone creates a meat-filled savoury mooncake, the Green Tea and Purple Sweet Potato mooncakes would be the perfect Mid-Autumn treats for those with no sweet tooth.

St Regis gave the mooncakes to Material World for review purposes, all opinions are the author’s own. You may order your mooncakes from St Regis by calling Yan Ting (Tel: 6506 6887) or emailing them at yanting@stregis.com .

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and hopes someone would create a meat-filled savoury mooncake soon. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

HappyEndingsSurvey_256

 

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Food Review: Wawawa Bistro – Deborah Tan

(6) IMG_0446To be honest, I’ve walked past Wawawa Bistro a couple of times but I’ve never thought to eat there. Not because the surroundings or the ambiance ain’t welcoming enough. I’m just always iffy about eateries that are the ONLY dining option at far-flung places. I am of the opinion that they won’t care about the food because most people would have “no choice” but to eat there.

So when I was invited by the PRs of Wawawa to do a food review, I was – honestly – prepared to be underwhelmed.

We arrived at Wawawa at about 7pm on a Monday evening where there was still some daylight left for us to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings. I must admit that, once seated, the view in front of the restaurant was pretty breath-taking and relaxing. The vibe was casual – diners wearing their jogging clothes fitted in easily among diners in office-garb – and I liked the “wall-less” concept of the restaurant because you really feel as if you’re dining IN a park, not inside an air-conditioned box located in a park.

(1) mini burgerThe menu is extensive, boasting Western dishes and Asian-inspired ones such as the soft-shell crab laksa. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the food here are culinary works of art, but they are comfort food done well and the portion sizes, generous.

For appetizer, I recommend you share the Mini Beef Burgers ($13.80) with your friends. The juicy grilled mini patties are rich in beefy flavour and whet your appetite instead of filling your stomach. If you’re a small eater and are looking for a meaty dish with a manageable size, this could also work as your main. With mini burgers, there is always a chance that the entire patty is done too dry and you’d have to douse the entire thing in ketchup for it to be palatable. These were done just right and the buns were fresh and pillow-soft.

(2)pork knuckleThe Signature German Pork Knuckle ($25.80) is a dish for sharing. The crackling was addictive and worth every fat and calorie. The meat retained its juiciness and did not have an overwhelmingly “porky” taste. Still have room to try another main? I strongly recommend the Soft-Shell Crab Laksa ($12.80). When Vanessa wanted to order it at first, I was like, “Please?!?! Why are you ordering something you can easily get for $3 at a hawker centre?!!” But when the dish arrived, I found my mouth beginning to salivate. With an entire fried soft-shell crab on top of the laksa, this dish hit all the spots and checked all the boxes. It was flavourful, rich, comforting, spicy, and every bite makes you just want to have some more.

(3) lavaFor desserts, don’t turn your nose up at the Wawawa Chocolate Lava Cake ($10.80). Ours was done perfectly with a soft chocolate cake and a crusty shell that opened up to a thick, molten center of warm chocolate sauce. It was the perfect end to a more than satisfying meal and I understood why the restaurant had such a healthy crowd on a Monday evening – when you’re stressed, all you want is eat food that is focused on being unabashedly shiok. At Wawawa, the food is just that – shiok.

Wawawa Bistro By The Reservoir is located at Bedok Reservoir, 901 Bedok Reservoir Road. Tel: 6285 8038.

Material World was invited to a tasting by Wawawa Bistro. All opinions are the author’s own.

YOGA & BRUNCH WITH MATERIAL WORLD AT WAWAWA BISTRO

(5) IMG_0418

How would you like to do some yoga and have brunch here?

20 Material World readers will have the chance to enjoy a Sunday morning at Bedok Reservoir with a yoga session followed by brunch at Wawawa Bistro. Details:

DATE: 15 September 2013, Sunday
TIME: 9.30am SHARP
MEETING POINT: Wawawa Bistro at Bedok Reservoir
This is a LADIES-ONLY event. Gentlemen, we appreciate the support but we are unable to accommodate men at this event.

Every participant pays $10* to sign up. You’ll receive:
1. An hour-long yoga session with yoga instructor Lu Jingshi
2. A healthy brunch courtesy of Wawawa Bistro
3. A beauty goodie bag by Maybelline
4. A yoga mat

*The $10 will be spent solely on covering the expenses of the yoga mat and logistics. Wawawa Bistro will not be profiting from this event.

Booking Deadline: 11 September 2013, Wednesday

To sign up, simply fill in the form below and we’ll advise you on the payment method. WE DO NOT ACCEPT PAYMENT ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT. Only by bank transfer or cheque. All payment must be made by the Booking Deadline. Your spot will only be confirmed when we receive your payment.

BOOK MY MAT!

Share this story to enter your name for this draw!

Share this story to enter your name for this draw!

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In The Mood To Skyve? – Denise Li

There’s something about Skyve Wine Bistro that’s just inviting you to, well … skyve. Whether or not you’re illicitly doing it, the warm, welcoming ambience of this spacious Winstedt Road restaurant is the perfect spot to catch up with friends, or to have some quiet time reading a book over a glass of wine.

The restaurant isn’t new, having opened for about two years now, but they’ve got a new Executive Chef, 30-year-old Jachin, who worked there previously as its Senior Chef de Partie and Sous Chef of Hummerstons. He’s revamped Skyve’s menu and its focus is on hearty European fare with an Asian touch.

For starters, you can’t go wrong with the Petuna and Ume Somen, $20. The petuna is quite similar to the look and texture of salmon but without its overly fishy flavour, though it came lightly seared. This Japanese-inspired dish came served cold, with a myriad flavours that dance on your tongue. Apparently, this dish is so popular that there have been requests to make it into a main serving size.

Petuna And Ume Somen, $20

Petuna And Ume Somen, $20

Also not to be missed is the Skyve Beef Tartare, $22. This simple dish gets its complexity from the truffle egg yolk, ancho chili aioli (a Provencal sauce made with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolk), and these also helped temper the “rawness” of the beef.

Skyve Beef Tartare, $22

Skyve Beef Tartare, $22

The amazing starters set the tone for the rest of the meal. The main course menu is varied enough to suit a variety of palates without overwhelming. Vegetarians are bound to be delighted with the creatively-executed Polenta Mushroom Stack, $34 – delicious grilled Portobello sandwiched between two polenta cakes and accompanied by mushroom fricassee, vegetables and homemade pesto. The variety of textures on one plate made this dish positively delightful and proved to be quite filling, thanks to the dense polenta cakes.

Carnivores. you’re definitely not left out either. Chef Tan’s clearly a huge fan of the sous vide machine, as the two meat dishes we tried were prepared using that method. The Sous Vide Poulet (chicken),  $34, was amazingly juicy, and you’ll find yourself addicted to the candied pecan and potato puree that accompanied the dish.

But to me, the highlight of this tasting had to be the Spicy Kalbi Beef Short Ribs, $36. I loved that the sous vide short ribs had quite a bit of fat attached to it, giving it that lovely melt-in-your-mouth texture. That, coupled with the sticky, spicy, Korean-inspired glaze was just heaven in my mouth.

Spicy Kalbi Beef Short Ribs, $36

Spicy Kalbi Beef Short Ribs, $36

Skyve Wine Bistro is one of those places that you’ll want to stay and linger for just a little while longer. And there’s no reason not to, considering their amazing happy hour (or what they call “Skyving Hour”) deals. Draught beers and selected wines are one-for-one from 4pm to 8pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays), and 4pm to 11pm (Sundays to Tuesdays).

Skyve Wine BIstro is at 10 Winstedt Road, Block E #01-17. Tel: 6225 6690

The dishes featured here are from Skyve Wine Bistro’s dinner menu. Material World was invited to do a tasting, and was not paid for this review. All opinions expressed are the author’s own.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. She’s always on the lookout for the best happy hour deals in town. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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3 Meat Dishes Every Carnivore Will Adore – Deborah Tan

The water tank on top of the restaurant

The water tank on top of the restaurant

I don’t know about you but every once in a while, I fantasise about sinking my teeth into a bloody steak. I love red meat and a meal without meat is to me, an utterly unsatisfying one. You know what else I love besides red meat? FRIED CHICKEN. Most of the time, I avoid chicken unless it comes fried (preferably coated in a crispy batter) or served in chicken rice. I hate chicken done any other way.

Recently, I was invited to try the food at Outpost 903 Gastrobar. Opened by a lovely couple, the lively eatery is situation along Bukit Timah Road in a shophouse just next to the condo, Tessarina. You will identify it by the huge water-tank perched atop its roof.

A lot of the furniture inside Outpost 903 are custom-made by a designer in Vietnam who creates these pieces by recycling old stuff like crate boxes, factory lights, discarded steel fittings, etc. If you really want, you can enquire about how to purchase these furniture from the restaurant staff too. But let’s not get distracted.

Now, Outpost 903 has a pretty extensive menu that includes pizzas, sandwiches, salads and small bites. But the most outstanding dishes have got to be the MEATY ones. Here are my Top 3:

#3: Cheesy Steak Sandwich, $20

Cheesy Steak Sandwich

Cheesy Steak Sandwich

Bite into this juicy, cheesy sandwich and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Orgasm in a mouth”. Besides the ribeye steak that’s not tough at all (as most steak in steak sandwich tend to end up), there is also pork bratwurst sausage inside. The unctuous sausage made for a very nice contrast to the tender beef, and with the oozy sharp cheddar providing a kind of a flavour-bomb, this is one sandwich I don’t mind paying for.

#2: Crispy Pork Belly, $18

Crispy Pork Belly

Crispy Pork Belly

When I first bit into the pork belly, my eyeballs fell onto the floor. Kidding. Basically, it’s so good my eyes opened very wide. The skin is done to cracking perfection, and the meat is smoky, juicy and full of wholesome pork flavour. The sweet sauce (it tasted to me like a mix of maple syrup and hoisin sauce) that’s drizzled over the pork belly did a good job of cutting through the oil. Even if you are on a low-carb nonsense diet, DO NOT SKIP THE MASH. The home-made mash is a fine mix of buttery potato, spring onions and fried shallots, and it’s super addictive.

#1: Buttermilk Chicken, $16

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at AM 11.11.58

Buttermilk Chicken

A diner-inspired restaurant along Bukit Timah Road claims to serve up the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat. I admit, it was damn fine. However, this one from Outpost 903 is even better. I ordered this dish on a “secret” visit back to the restaurant after the tasting session so if it impressed me on “normal” day, you know this is the real deal. The batter was crunchy, without being bitter (something that happens when you over-fry the thing), the chicken was well brined and juicy, and the accompanying spicy sauce was SUPER HOT. I would recommend you ask for the half spring chicken to be chopped up into two so you can easily eat this fried work of art with your hands.

Be sure to wash down all that meat juices with a dessert. The Mango Float ($14) is perfect for refreshing the palate after your indulgent meal. Made with fresh mango and cream, I promise you it will hit the spot and you won’t even feel guilty about it. It’s fruit after all!

Outpost 903 Gastrobar is located at 903 Bukit Timah Road. Tel: 6468 4903

The author was invited to Outpost Gatrobar 903 for a food tasting. At this tasting, she tried the Cheesy Steak Sandwich and the Crispy Pork Belly. On a separate visit, she ordered the Buttermilk Chicken and paid for that herself. All opinions are her own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and thinks there are better ways to eat meat than in a burger. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Food Review: Afternoon Tea at Halia Raffles Hotel – Denise Li

If you’re not one of those people who are taking advantage of the upcoming super long weekend to jet off somewhere, let me assure you that it’s really not such a big deal. There are plenty of fantastic spots right here you can go to get away from the maddening crowd and just chill out, unwind, and catch up with an old friend. Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering one such place and I have to say, I’m almost reluctant to write about it as I love the fact that it’s not currently buzzing with massive hordes of people but … yeah, sharing is caring, right?

Afternoon Tea Set at Halia Raffles Hotel, $35

Afternoon Tea Set at Halia Raffles Hotel, $35

The place I’m talking about is Halia at Raffles Hotel. More specifically, high tea at Halia. It’s done the really old-school way – bite-sized nibbles served on a two-tier tea set. The Afternoon Tea Service (as it’s called), also comes with your choice of premium Gryphon teas, freshly-brewed coffee or their signature Halia Infusion (ginger drink).

There is a good mix of sweet and savoury treats here, all with Halia’s signature decadent touch, such as an Irish smoked salmon blini with caviar, and a foie gras mousse served within a flaky puff pastry. What stood out from the savoury selection was the blue cheese, which came with apricot chutney, pickled celery and honey walnut. It was an amazing explosion of flavours and textures. Others, like the aforementioned foie gras mousse didn’t really hit the mark – you couldn’t barely taste the fois gras.

For me, the standout item in this entire set was the scone. It was buttery and not at all dry, and had just the right amount of saltiness. It comes served with a lovely homemade jam and clotted cream, and it’s proof that simplest things in life offer give the greatest pleasure.

Food-wise, the Afternoon Tea Service has a good and varied selection of items. You’ll inevitably end up liking some items over others, but you’ll be willing to overlook this tiny detail for everything else this restaurant has to offer. Instead of opting to sit in the restaurant itself, snag a table in the courtyard behind the restaurant to soak in the lovely ambience of Singapore’s most iconic hotel. Seriously, I can never get bored of wandering around Raffles Hotel just admiring its colonial architecture.

Hot Halia Infusion

Hot Halia Infusion

Afternoon Tea Service is available daily from 3pm to 5pm for just $35, so why not take advantage of this holiday to pay Halia a visit? But hey, just because the tea service ends at 5pm doesn’t mean you have to leave just then. While we’re on the subject of life’s greatest pleasures, I’m fond of saying that the ultimate decadence is having a drink while the sun is still up. And Halia has just become my number one go-to spot for happy hour. Surprising it may be, but Halia actually has some great drink deals going on. Pints of Archipelago’s brews, for example, go for just $10 a pint!

Fascinated with Halia’s offerings? There’s more. If you’re in a particularly patriotic mood (and if you’re not going to be patriotic in the month of August, when will you be?), celebrate our nation’s independence by grabbing a couple of your buds to check out Halia’s Uniquely Singapore Set, $48. This set includes their signature dish, the Chilli Crab Spaghettini, as well as a Singapore Sling by Hendrick’s cocktail. I’ve had the Chilli Crab Spaghettini on a couple of occasions and I love it for its delectably light flavours. Plus it’s great for those who enjoy crab but don’t fancy the mess of peeling it yourself.

The Afternoon Tea Set is only available at Halia at Raffles Hotel, while the Uniquely Singapore Set is available at both Raffles Hotel and the Botanic Gardens.

Material World was invited to a tasting of Halia’s Afternoon Tea Set and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Hit her up for the best happy hour deals in town. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Food Review: The Black Swan – Denise Li

The Black Swan is the Lo & Behold Group’s (Loof, Tanjong Beach Club, The White Rabbit) latest offering and, in a nutshell, I’d say the restaurant and its offerings bear all the marks of the group’s signature style – classy but not stuffy, cool but not pretentious.

The Black Swan - Main Dining Room

Having opened for just two weeks, there was already a healthy crowd when Material World popped by for a tasting last Thursday. Step into the restaurant and you feel like you’ve been transported back in time – a high ceiling, wood panelling, marble inlay and dim lighting set the mood. Make no mistake, it’s hardly a romantic place though – its prime location smack in the centre of the CBD means it draws a stressed-out office crowd all ready to unwind and toss back a few cocktails.

That doesn’t mean that the food is not worth coming here for – far from that. Some reviewers are of the opinion that the food is unadventurous, but I’ve never been against classic dishes done well. Take the Char-grilled Beef Tartare, $26; rather than being served completely raw, it’s been flash-grilled for a hint of smokey flavour, and is mixed with capers, garlic, toasted sesame seeds and more so it’s palatable even to those who shy away from raw beef.

Also from the “small plates” selection, another must-order dish is the Baked Bone Marrow with Chilli and Konbu, $18. The seasoning of chopped chillis, shallots, chives and konbu does well to cut through the greasiness of the marrow.

Baked Bone Marrow With Chilli and Konbu, $18

Baked Bone Marrow With Chilli and Konbu, $18

I’m also definitely not averse to a good burger, and The Black Swan Burger, $26, passes the test with flying colours. It might not be an exciting dish, but it’s cooked well and served with quality ingredients – what more do you really need? The patty (made up of 90% chuck and 10% fat) was juicy and oozing with beefy flavour, and it’s accompanied by butterhead lettuce, red onion rings, mature cheddar and a sunny sideup. I love that it came with streaky bacon on the side for an extra indulgent touch.

The Black Swan_TBS Burger

The Black Swan Burger, $26

Another main worth mentioning is definitely the Stockyard Australia Ribeye Steak. $96. At 18oz, it’s just about enough for two, or perhaps one very hungry man. Ours was cooked to medium rare and what was amazing about it was how it was expertly prepared despite its mammoth size. It was evenly cooked to medium rare throughout the whole slab, which was great. Nothing annoys me more than ordering a steak medium rare, only to have it overly done close to the edges of the meat!

Though it’s tempting to fill yourself up with the mains, don’t forget to leave room for dessert. I loved the Dark Chocolate Dome, $!6. Underneath the Valrhona dark chocolate is a light vanilla creme and a hazelnut praline base. The Coconut Creme Caramel, $14, is also worth a mention – silky smooth and served with gula melaka, nicely contasting with the candied citrus and ginger.

Dark Chocolate Dome, $16

Dark Chocolate Dome, $16

The food might be secondary to those hankering for a drink after a stressful day at work, and the drinks menu is also impressive. There is a selection of cocktails concocted by its Beverage Manager Kamil Foltan, who has honed his craft in various bars and cocktail lounges in Europe. Despite my reservations about the potential tainting of a perfectly good single malt, I had the Golden Parachute, $19, a 15-year-old single malt whisky stirred with vanilla bean, maple syrup and enlivened with mandarin zest, and was surprised at how well the sweet flavour of maple syrup lent itself to the single malt. For my second drink, I had a gin ‘n tonic, but this wasn’t just any old gin. I opted for something I never tried before, Brooklyn Gin and was amazed at its smoothness, complexity of flavours and detectable citrus notes. The Black Swan also offers a wonderful selection of whiskys for single-malt lovers. These include the Yamazaki 1998/2012 Single Cask, Glenddronach 1972/2012 Single Oloroso Cask, and Laphroaig 1990 21 Years.

If you work in the area (or even if you don’t), The Black Swan is definitely worth a visit for its inspired cocktails, hearty dishes and old-world ambience. Fancy a late-night bite after a night at the club? You’ll be glad to know that The Black Swan is open for supper till 1am on weekdays and 2am on weekends.

The Black Swan is at 19 Cecil Street. SMS 8181 3305 for reservations.

Material World was invited for a tasting at The Black Swan. All opinions are the author’s own.

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Food Review: Cuisine Master Hotpot – Deborah Tan

I can’t believe I almost missed out on the food tasting for Cuisine Master! Founder Denise got invited to the tasting and she totally didn’t tell me until I asked her if she was interested in going to JPot for dinner. She said, “Oh, I’ll be eating steamboat on Tuesday already.”

“Huh? How come?” I expressed my astonishment because she hates cooking her own food.

“Oh. Got a tasting at this new hot-pot place at Boat Quay,” came a super lukewarm reply.

“TAKE ME WITH YOU!” She really didn’t have much say in the matter.

Mushroom Soup and Golden Broth - a match made in hot-pot heaven

Mushroom Soup and Golden Broth – a match made in hot-pot heaven

Located along Boat Quay, Cuisine Master Hotpot hails from Beijing where Master Chef Zhong Li Wen perfected the art of making super-divine hot-pot broth. Soup-lovers will love both the signature Golden Broth, a creamy-smooth concoction made by slow-cooking “old hen” and “old duck” for over 1o hours, and the clear Mushroom Soup, made from over 5 types of imported exotic mushrooms. The soups do not contain additives and MSG.

Because Chef Zhong is so proud of his soups, before the start of your hot-pot session, you’ll be served a bowl of the soups in their original state to allow you to fully savour the flavours.

The Golden Broth was rich and bursting with the full, hearty flavours of the chicken and duck. Every sip warmed and comforted every cell in my body. It was sweet without being cloying, rich without being greasy. So wonderful was this broth, I was almost tempted to just ask for a bowl of white rice to go with it and give the rest of the hot-pot meal a miss. The Mushroom Soup was almost black in colour but do not be put off by it. The earthy, briney flavours of the exotic mushrooms have an almost palate-cleansing effect and the soup gives whatever food cooked in it a flavour-boost.

Each table has its own dedicated server who will cook the food for you (a plus point in Denise’s book) and explain the benefits of each ingredient.

Super fresh seafood cooked perfectly!

Super fresh seafood cooked perfectly!

For those of you who get a kick out of cooking your own food, know that the servers are all specially trained to cook each ingredient perfectly and the dining sequence of each menu is designed for optimum digestion and health.

Another marvel of Cuisine Master Hot Pot is the high-tech system it uses to suck the “cooking smell” away from the diners. Each hot-pot rests within a “ding” (a sunken copper well of sorts modeled after what emperors in ancient China used when they had hot-pots). The “ding” has ventilation side-grills that pull away the smoke as it rises so your hair and clothes will remain “smell-free”.

So if you’re craving hot-pots for lunch, you can rest assured you won’t be returning to the office smelling like chicken soup.

The ingredients used are top notch and super fresh. We had geoduck, abalone, sea cucumber, and fish maw. I’m usually a meat-person but even I had to admit the freshness of the seafood was flawless. Divine broths, fresh ingredients perfectly cooked, and a highly personalised service. Cuisine Master Hotpot has really taken the hot-pot experience to another level.

I really am looking forward to my next visit. The thought of tasting the Golden Broth again is enough to make me swoon in hunger.

This is one of the must-eats you have to experience.

Cuisine Master Hotpot is located at 68 Boat Quay. Tel: 6438 9979

The author was invited to a media tasting at Cuisine Master Hot Pot, all opinions are her own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and loves soups as much as any Cantonese even though she’s Hokkien … Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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