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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Food News, Lifestyle

4 Carnivore-Approved Healthy Eating Places – Deborah Tan

Are you one of those who have to have meat at every meal? And if you don’t, you just feel like something is missing and you leave feeling unsatisfied? Well, that makes the two of us. I need to have meat. Even if I’m tucking into a healthy salad, I have to have some kind of meat in there to break the texture.

But this single-minded obsession with meat wasn’t healthy and, as I learned, causing me to miss out on a lot of places with food that are as tasty as they are wholesome. And, ever since I “accepted” that I was going to have to eat at organic and vegetarian cafes (the boyfriend, unfortunately, is a big fan of “clean eating”), my dining options have widened considerably. If I wasn’t feeling a full and heavy meal, an organic/vegetarian cafe is a good alternative – better than simply popping into Subway or a fastfood joint.

So here are four places highly recommended by folks around us, approved by the team, and loved by carnivores like Denise and I.

The Living Cafe
779 Bukit Timah Road

balancedliving1

At The Living Cafe, the food does not contain red meat, cow dairy, white sugar, preservatives, additives and artificial colouring. While not strictly vegetarian, they do have a wide range of raw/raw-fusion dishes. I go there whenever I feel my system is a bit choked up with junk and gunk. They do a wonderful raw-food burger (TLC Burger) and I love their Flaxseed Chips. But initiates, you can try the Grilled Chicken Or Fish Brown Rice Bowl. Packed with flavours and textures, it is one satisfying, healthy meal in a bowl.

North South East West
200 Tanjong Katong Road

nsew1

Despite what several websites and people may tell you, it is still in operation. I was amazed by how popular and crowded this 100% vegetarian restaurant got at lunchtime. The menu is EXTENSIVE. You’ll find local delights like laksa, satay beehoon, Hainanese “pork” chop rice, and Western dishes like baked rice and “fish” nuggets. I tried the Hainanese “pork” chop rice and found it tasty without being greasy or too salty. The curry was flavourful and very addictive. It can get quite hectic so don’t expect this to be some Zen, chill-out place.

Real Food
The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #B1-52
Tai Wah Building, 110 Killiney Road

realfood1

The outlet at The Central is always crowded, I prefer the one at Killiney. Now, if you are in a rush, or expect your food to reach your table in under 10 minutes, don’t go to Real Food. Here, they make everything in small batches and from scratch. The person taking your order will also alert you if something you want is going to take a while to make. I love their Dumpling Noodles, a plate of it has like 5 full dumplings! If you are looking for something sweet, the French toast with apples and cinnamon is AWESOME (it’s so yums, I have to post up the picture too!).

realfood2

SunnyChoice
The Rail Mall, 434 Upper Bukit Timah Road

sunnychoice1

If you order the nasi lemak or the bak kut teh, you are going to be IMPRESSED. SunnyChoice doesn’t “fake” the meat-component of these dishes. Instead they just cook stuff like mushrooms, toufu, and eggplant creatively to give these dishes the textures meat-eaters expect to have. The bak kut teh is my all-time favourite – it’s got a strong herbal taste and the mix of veggies and toufu guarantees a filling and satisfying meal. Another thing to order at SunnyChoice is the Hakka Abacus – bite-size discs made from yam. Only, instead of minced meat, they are using a flavourful stir-fry of shredded mushrooms and carrots. Again, this is such a yummy eat, I have to show it here.

sunnychoice2

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 hasn’t stopped thinking about the french toast at Real Food. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Tastiest Thai Food Under $10 – Deborah Tan

I have recently made it my “hobby” to seek out good Thai food in hawker centres. Why? Well, before my encounter with the food at Bangkok Express (not the restaurant) at Newton Circus, I had always thought Thai food in hawker centres was a bit like “Japanese food” in hawker centres. You get a wannabe that isn’t like the real thing at all but charges double that of a bak chor mee. Also, my favourite food to eat at hawker centres is always something local like roast duck rice, five spice prawn crackers, or fresh fish bee hoon.

But Newton Circus’ local food is pathetic. From the You Kee duck rice (pitiful serving sizes) to the supposedly famous fried Hokkien prawn noodles that tastes like salt dissolved in oil and water, anything that isn’t BBQ seafood tastes HORRIBLE.

So when I found myself having to eat lunch at Newton Circus one afternoon, I was at a loss of what to eat. Seeing that the boyfriend ordered from Bangkok Express, I decided, “You know, everything sucks here so you might as well just break your rule and give it a go.” So I order the Tom Yum Chicken set ($6) and had one of my most memorable hawker lunches in a very long time.

Come to think of it, it does make sense. A lot of the best Thai food we eat in Bangkok are sold on the streets. Unlike Japanese food, Thai food is relatively inexpensive to create and therefore lends itself to a setting like a hawker centre. After eating my way through a list of 6 stalls recommended by friends, I have found my four favourites:

1. Bangkok Express
#01-04 Newton Circus Food Centre
500 Clemenceau Avenue North

BangkokExpress

What I ordered: Chicken with Cashew Nuts set, $6

Talk about value-for-money! This set comes with a generous serving of stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, some green papaya salad on the side, a small bowl of tom yum soup, and rice. Taste-wise, the food is bursting with sweet, sour and spicy, and every mouthful is satisfying as it is hearty. For small eaters, you may not even be able to finish everything. I just wish Newton hawkers would stop serving their food in those styrofoam plates and give us some real cutlery already!

2. Yummy Thai
#01-161 Old Airport Road Food Centre
51 Old Airport Road

Yummy

What I ordered: Chicken with Basil, $4.50

This may not be a spread like Bangkok Express but minced chicken was moist and came with a healthy dose of basil. There was a fried egg on top of the rice. This chicken with basil is very close to the ones I have tasted in Bangkok. I like that it had little chili padi cooked into it so it’s got a bit of heat, which makes it go even better with the steaming white jasmine rice

3. Tasty Thai Hut
#02-131 Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre
116 Upper Bukit Timah Road

Tasty

What I ordered: Chicken with Basil, $5 

I was initially very disappointed with the way the dish turned out. Unlike most chicken/pork/beef with basil dishes I have sampled, this was pale and super watery. The stall owner is a Thai lady and the menu has just 6 dishes. This was the only stir-fry. But guess what? It rocked my socks! The clear gravy was full of fish sauce flavour and imparted an appetizing note to the rice. Basil, long beans, peppers and chili padis gave texture and crunch. Overall, this was the stall that surprised me the most.

4. Pauline Thai Food
#01-68 Golden Mile Food Centre
505 Beach Road

Pauline

What I ordered: Pork with Basil, $4.50

This one reminded me of a pork with basil dish I used to have at a Thai restaurant my family frequented when we were still staying in Little India. Instead of serving it with rice, that dish came with a plate of lettuce leaves that you use to wrap the pork with. Being a kid, I refused to eat “green food”, so I was fed rice with the pork. Although it looked dry, this Golden Mile offering had a strong smoky, “wok-hei” flavour. The serving was huge and I struggled to finish it.

Do you have a go-to Thai hawker stall that isn’t mentioned here? If so, drop me a note in the Comment section and let me know where to find it!  Meanwhile, do check out these places during your lunch hour or on a weekend. I guarantee you won’t regret it!

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 doesn’t really like the Thai dessert mango with sticky rice. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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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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Magnum P.I – Which Magnum Tastes The Best? – Deborah Tan

They are everywhere.

Every day, as I drive home, Magnum teases me with its ads of its two new ice cream flavours, Pink Marc De Champagne and Black Espresso. For an ice cream that isn’t gourmet or “designer”, Magnum does a pretty good job selling them at a price higher than the average cone. Its use of supposedly premium ingredients and large portion seem to justify the price tag. Magnum is really what people call, “Affordable luxury”. You can eat it every day and you won’t burn a hole in your pocket … though you might have to change your jeans to a bigger size after a while.

But which Magnum tastes the best? Out of curiosity, we at Material World decided to conduct a taste test of all the Magnum flavours we can find at the supermarket. Our selection included the two newest flavours along with (1) Magnum Classic, (2) Magnum Almond, and the strangely titled (3) Magnum Gold?! (yes, the punctuation marks are part of the name). Each ice cream bar was rated according to three criteria: shell, ice cream, and both eaten together.

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Material World plays Magnum P.I

Magnum Black emerged the winner of this taste test, garnering two votes as the Favourite out of four. Magnum Gold was the grand loser of this test, garnering two votes as the Least Favourite Flavour.

Below the comments by each of the tasters:

Magnum Classic
Smooth vanilla bean ice cream covered in thick Belgian chocolate shell

Magnum Classic

Voted “Favourite” by Lili

Denise: “The shell tastes intensely chocolatey! But I like the vanilla ice cream best – tastes smooth and ‘premium’.”

Lili: “The contrast between the shell and the ice cream makes this a really nice dessert. Not too overwhelming. Just right.”

Vanessa: “The shell is too sweet and the ice cream tastes slightly bitter. I find this very flat and unexciting.”

Deborah: “Too plain and simple an ice cream to waste calories on.”

Magnum Gold?!
Smooth vanilla bean ice cream with sea salt caramel swirls and a Belgian chocolate shell coloured gold. Okay, can someone from Magnum please explain what’s with the “?!”

Voted "Favourite" by Vanessa Voted "Least Favourite" by Lili and Deborah

Voted “Favourite” by Vanessa
Voted “Least Favourite” by Lili and Deborah

Denise: “This is my second favourite. I think the caramel taste comes out strongly – a good thing for me. Shell and ice cream complement each other very well!”

Lili: “Too sweet!”

Vanessa: “The sweetness is just right and I like that the caramel isn’t too overpowering. It’s subtle and nice.”

Deborah: “Too cloying! Everything just tastes like burnt sugar inside my mouth. The ‘sea salt’ bit of the ‘sea salt caramel’ is totally missing from this.”

Magnum Pink Marc De Champagne
An extremely pink ice cream bar (gender marketing, anyone?) with swirls of Marc de Champagne inside ice cream of the same flavour. Marc de Champagne is not Champagne. It’s the solid remains of grapes after the juice is pressed from the fruit. These remains are also used to produce pomace brandy

Voted "Least Favourite" by Denise

Voted “Least Favourite” by Denise

Denise: “Taste artificial, like fake strawberries.”

Lili: “Refreshing on the palate because of the berry flavour. The alcohol taste is barely discernible.”

Vanessa: “I guess because of its alcoholic nature, it’d be great for dinner parties with adults …” [Note: The three of us gave her a “Whaaaaa…” look]

Deborah: “It’s just too pink for me. You do get that whole alcohol bubbling into your nose feeling but it hardly tastes like Champagne, or any fine beverages. It could be beer for all I know.”

Magnum Almond
Like the Classic, except this one has crunchy almond bits embedded into the shell

almon

Denise: “I don’t like nuts.”

Lili: “I don’t like nuts with my ice cream, makes it too tiring to eat.”

Vanessa: “This is my second favourite! Love the almonds! It’s like having toppings with your ice cream.”

Deborah: “The contrast in textures is a big plus for me. I love mixing crunchy and creamy together. My second favourite.”

Magnum Black Espresso
Swirls of espresso coffee in smooth vanilla bean ice cream covered in a dark chocolate shell

Voted "Favourite" by Denise and Deborah Voted "Least Favourite" by Vanessa

Voted “Favourite” by Denise and Deborah
Voted “Least Favourite” by Vanessa

Denise: “The shell is intensely flavoured and the coffee flavour comes out powerfully. I’m not usually a fan of coffee ice cream but this one works.”

Lili: “This is my second favourite. I like the shell and the swirls of espresso in the ice cream.”

Vanessa: “The ice cream is too sweet. Overall, too many strong flavours fighting each other. You don’t know which one to focus on.”

Deborah: “This is love at first bite! Great way to eat my coffee and get my caffeine fix. Could be psychological but I do feel more alert immediately after eating this!”

The Magnum ice creams featured were paid for by Material World and this taste test was conducted at no one’s request. All opinions are our own. Magnum ice creams are available at supermarkets and 7-Elevens islandwide.

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 to see more flavours of Magnum hitting Singapore soon. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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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

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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: Slappy Cakes in Singapore – Deborah Tan

The light-filled interior of Slappy Cakes makes it a great breakfast place.

The light-filled interior of Slappy Cakes makes it a great breakfast place.

The concept of cooking your own food at your table is not a new one to Singaporeans. We are big fans of steamboat and Korean BBQ, after all.

The next time you make your way to The Grandstand, go to Slappy Cakes – originally from Portland, USA. Located at the taxi stand, just in front of MAD, this new DIY pancake restaurant will prove to be a popular place for families, girly get-togethers, and young couples out on a casual first date.

Each bottle of pancake batter costs $8 and makes up to 6 big cakes or 8 medium ones. You can order a variety of fixings (stuff you put into your batter while it’s cooking on the pan) and toppings (stuff you put on your cooked pancakes) from a comprehensive list that includes crispy bacon, Brie cheese, pecans, lemon curd, 100% maple syrup, coconut peanut butter, and pork sausages.

Pancake batter in squeeze-bottles

Pancake batter in squeeze-bottles

You can be “predictable” and choose batters like buttermilk or wholegrain, or be adventurous and go for peanut butter or zucchini.

I was feeling adventurous and so I chose the zucchini pancake batter for this first visit (the boyfriend went with peanut butter). And, because I generally prefer savory foods to sweet foods, I went with Brie, crispy bacon for my fixings, and coconut peanut butter for my topping.

Whipping up your own pancakes is easy. The squeeze-bottle allows you to dispense just the right amount. Or, you can be totally creative and make heart-shape pancakes or pancake-scribbles the spell your name.

The non-stick griddle at the table are pretty top of the range and well-maintained so you don’t have to oil the pan. This means there won’t be any greasy smell attaching itself to your hair and clothes. If you and your colleagues are looking for a fun place to do a team lunch, you can easily head back to the office after sans Eau De Kitchen.

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Non-stick griddle pan ensures no oil is needed to make your pancakes

The zucchini pancakes turned out acceptable. There was no weird taste despite its name. It went well with the savory fixings though the coconut peanut butter might not be everyone’s cup of tea. After a few bites with the coconut peanut butter, I decided to use the complimentary butter that came along instead. This combination turned out to be more to my liking.

Zucchini batter + Brie + Bacon

Zucchini batter + Brie + Bacon

Overall, I found Slappy Cakes a nice place to hang out for a simple breakfast/brunch/lunch of pancakes. I do hope they’ll come to serve other breakfast stuff in future though cos those looking for a heartier breakfast might appreciate a good ol’ English fry-up or Eggs Benedict.

Trying to look my best without makeup!

Trying to look my best without makeup!

Slappy Cakes is located at The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, #01-20/21. Tel: 6466 3303.

All food ordered for this review was paid for by the author herself.

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 wishes someone can invent a meat-batter pancake for the carnivore in her … Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


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Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Shabu Sai – Denise Li

People don’t usually have good things to say about Orchard Central. Admittedly, the mall’s layout is rather confusing, with lots of strange turns, and nooks and crannies. But I’ve actually grown quite fond of it of late. It is, after all, home to homegrown fashion labels such as Sabrinagoh, Reckless Erica and Blackmarket. But the other reason why it’s my go-to mall in town is because of the number of quality food outlets that are housed there.

There’s …

Tanuki Raw, which serves up quality, value-for-money lunch sets (be sure not to miss the steak tartare don!).

Seventh Heaven, which will astonish you with its wide selection of decadent desserts and ice cream (I personally love their waffles with Salty Caramel ice cream, butter and maple syrup).

EWF, for its gorgeous Nutella Tart.

The mall adds yet another eatery to its stable with the opening of Japanese hotpot restaurant Shabu Sai (the restaurant’s second after its outlet at Causeway Point), and Material World was recently invited there for a tasting. Now, let me state that I’m not usually a fan of hotpot – I mean, isn’t the whole point of eating out NOT to have to cook your own food?! But I went with an open mind, and was not disappointed.

SHABU SAI (1)

Offering a selection of seven soup bases, Shabu Sai also boasts of more than 60 items on its buffet. In addition to pork, chicken and beef, you’ll also find sushi and seafood items such as mussels and prawns.

Shabu Shabu & Sushi

You can choose up to two soup bases, and I opted for its most popular choices – Tonkotsu and Sukiyaki. The former is thick and rich, while the latter is lighter and “cleaner”, so they provide a good contrast to each other. The stock was flavourful, but the only gripe I had was that they were both too salty. The restaurant can definitely afford to cut back on its use of salt in its soups After all, when you throw in an assortment of ingredients that includes meat, seafood and vegetables, these will go a long way in sweetening the broth.

I did like that fact that the meats came thinly sliced – the beef remained tender and tasty even though I’d left it boiling in the soup for a little too long at one point.

The affordable prices will definitely be a huge draw as well. Weekday lunch prices are at just $16.99 (and goes up to $29.99 for weekend dinners), and the buffet variety is exactly the same as for dinner. Throw in another $1.99 and you’ll also get to enjoy a free flow of drinks and soft serve ice cream.

Salad Bar

I enjoyed my dinner at Shabu Sai, and I daresay that it’s going to provide neighbouring Japanese buffet restaurant Kiseki a run for its money. But more importantly, I came away with it actually seeing the point of going for hotpot. It’s actually a fantastic option when you’re dining out with friends, because there’s plenty of time to engage in conversation with them as you wait for the food to be cooked. And isn’t the great conversation the whole point of dinner with friends, anyway?

Shabu Sai is at #08-09/10/11 Orchard Central. Call 6884 6760 for reservations.

Material World was invited for a tasting at Shabu Sai. 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. Lastly, she believes that everyone should make it a point to travel solo at least once in their lives. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets

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material world food review of earle swensens
Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Earle Swensen’s – Deborah Tan

material world food review of earle swensens

All-You-Can-Eat Salad Buffet with every main course ordered. Also available as a la carte for $13.90

Swensen’s has always been a “childhood” restaurant for me. That was the place my mum and my grandmother would take us for an ice cream treat, that was the place my friends and I would go if we were feeling a bit “generous” with our pocket money. Since I’ve “grown up”, I hardly stepped into a Swensen’s. Until recently.

So an invitation to check out Earle Swensen’s new menu came up and it had a very, very crucial word on it: STEAK.

Now, what’s the difference – first of all – between Swensen’s and Earle Swensen’s? Think of the latter as a more “grown up” dining venue! The new menu clearly exhibited this fact. It is chockfull of hearty choices featuring good quality ingredients with a well thought-out combination of meats, seafood and, of course, desserts.

Are you a fan of all-you-can-eat salad bars? If so, you will be pleased to find that at Earle Swensen’s. Besides the usual offerings of Caesar salad, macaroni and fruit salad, potato salad, you will also find thematic salads that change with the “seasons”. So whether it’s a Szechuan theme or a Indian theme, your tastebuds will be tantalised just enough for your main course.

material world food review of earle swensens

Charbroiled Black Angus Ribeye Steak

The steak menu is surprisingly affordable, considering the cuts used. Featuring Black Angus steaks and grass-fed steaks from New Zealand, the average price of each steak is about $36. You might wonder if the affordable pricing means anorexic cuts of meat. Not at all. My Charbroiled Black Angus Ribeye Steak ($35.90) was HUGE. I actually had problems finishing my steak! And I always take that as a good sign of a restaurant aiming to be a go-to location for steak.

I’m not asking for a GINORMOUS piece of carcass, don’t get me wrong. To me, a good portion should be slightly bigger than my palm and almost as thick as a deck of poker cards. I don’t mind paying a bit more for good steak and so, Earle Swensen’s Black Angus ribeye surpassed my expectations in terms of pricing and portion size. Good start.

The meat was done to my request and every bite filled my mouth with the subtle iron-ish sweetness of beef jus. In fact, the steak itself was so redolent of natural flavour that I didn’t even need to smother it with the accompanying black pepper sauce. Thank god that the restaurant served the sauce on the side and did not drown the steak in it.

You may choose between black pepper sauce or beef jus. Every steak order also gives you a choice of how you want your potatoes – mashed, fries and, if I remembered correctly, baked.

material world food review of earle swensens

Creamy Seafood Chowder in a bread bowl

There were other dishes for us to try. For non-beef fans, I found these dishes equally memorable: the Lamb Loin Skewer, the Fried Game Hen, and the Seafood Chowder. The chowder I recommend you share it with a friend since the combination of salad, and soup in a bread bowl, might fill you up too much to enjoy your main course.

The mains at Earle Swensen’s are definitely the highlight of a budget-friendly menu. Not only are the portions generous, the dishes are done well and feature good ingredients.

For a venue to have your weekly family dinner tonight, I strongly recommend checking out Earle Swensen’s today.

Earle Swensen’s can be found at VivoCity (1 Harbourfront Walk, #02-117, Tel: 6272 3306) and Changi Airport Terminal 3 (Viewing Mall Central, Level 4, Tel: 6443 7123).

Material World was invited to review Earle Swensen’s new menu. 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, Suits, and knows she can be a bit too shameless for her own good. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Food News, Lifestyle

Quick Bite At Pasarbella – Deborah Tan

Exploring the place even before it opens for business

Exploring the place even before it opens for business

If there was anyone more excited about the opening of Pasarbella at The Grandstand than me, that would be my boyfriend. Every time we go to The Grandstand, he would look longingly at the Pasarbella doorway and ask, “Is it opened yet?” Safe to assume, I think we rang up the place’s first transaction two weeks ago when we wandered in and found a stall selling organic produce opened. He bought kale, pumpkin, a couple of carrot and two very big potatoes. The lady remembered us when we walked past her stall today so I guess he must have made an impression! Haha!

Anyway, today, we were at The Grandstand again (I think I’m at that place at least twice a week!) and we saw that more stalls have been opened at Pasarbella. Yay!

lepatio1In fact, it is Le Patio‘s very first day at the farmer’s market. Mildly tired of our usual choices of either Omakase or Veganburg, we opted to try out the stall’s paella. It was slowly simmering away in a ginormous paella pan and was a picture of carb-and-seafood heaven waiting to be explored.

Coco!

Coco!

I said hi to the resident mascot (if I heard right, his name is Coco?). It’s a big stuffed rooster brought back all the way from France and it is really very cute (little known fact about Debs: I like fat soft toys)!

Well, here’s my short bit about Le Patio:

Admittedly, I was a bit confused about what cuisine it was serving. Everything was overwhelming pointing to French … but they have paella … which is Spanish. I guess we could call it European. But don’t let this minor detail affect you. The paella was wonderful. Cooked to the just the right starchy consistency, my serving came with a huge prawn, two mussels, a couple of baby squid, fish and chicken. It was a generous portion and – for a carb lover like myself – perfect. I certainly hope this isn’t an “opening day” portion because too often, stalls start off fantastic only to scale back later to cut cost.

lepatio5

Overall, I enjoyed my lunch at Le Patio. I shall be checking back at Pasarbella to try out the rest of the stalls. My next stop would probably be The Great Beer Experiment … Father’s Day is coming and my dad loves his beer!

lepatio3

Le Patio is Stall No. 27 at Pasarbella, The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road. The nearest entrance is the East End one.

Note: The author paid for her own meal at Le Patio.

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 to meet Steven Tyler in person one day.

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Guest Writers

[Guest Star] Living Life In The Wee Hours – Delphine Tan

Material World’s guest star this week is popular blogger Delphine Tan. As her blog’s tagline says, Delphine blogs regularly about “faith, family, friends and food”. Her posts are often accompanied by beautiful photography and have inspired many to live life simply, yet fully. Do visit her blog Life In The Wee Hours.

Delphine with her husband and kids

Delphine with her husband and kids

I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years. In the beginning, it was mainly inane stuff about what I did that day, nothing particularly interesting to anyone else other than myself and a handful of friends. I moved my blog two years ago and the focus now is my family and what we get up to on weekends and during the holidays. I tend to pack our free time with quite a variety of activities; so many people who read my blog assume that I must be a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) to be able to get so much done.

Now I blog mainly to have a record of where we go and what we do. Along the way, I realised that there were people interested in similar things that would use my blog as a reference and I was happy to share information wherever possible. I like to blog about the food we eat and I’m on a perpetual hunt for the best (according to my personal preferences, of course) Eggs Benedict in Singapore. We try to eat somewhere new every other week just to see what’s out there but we do have a few favourite joints that we find ourselves returning to again and again. We love going on holidays with the kids even though it is usually a logistical nightmare and I blog about our trips. I also blog a lot about the different activities for kids in Singapore, such as the playgrounds and museums.

While I love being a mother to two beautiful children, that’s not my only identity and I do like to have some personal time. Thanks to supportive family members and a wonderful husband, I get to find time for my own activities. People think that Singapore is small and boring but she has so much to offer and there’s a lot waiting to be discovered! I tend to be nostalgic and I like to wander around Singapore learning about the history and significance of various monuments and heritage areas. My recent jaunt was the Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour and the air raid shelter in one of the pre-war blocks there.  I’m also very fond of the green spaces in Singapore and try to explore them regularly.

Not a hands-off mum ... if that's the impression you're getting

Not a hands-off mum … if that’s the impression you’re getting

I think it’s really important to engage in activities without the kids so the husband and I try to have a date night every other week and we also go on holidays without the kids. Our last couple trip was to Yogyakarta and we explored Borobudur and climbed Mt Merapi. We also try to have our own ‘thing’: he has golf and I have… CIRCUS! I went for a trial circus aerial arts class at Circus Swingapore last October and signed up for the Intro course with my cousin’s wife this year. We just cleared the assessment for the intro course last week and we’ll be starting Level 1 next month. It’s the best class I’ve ever attended; it’s so fun and I look forward to it every week. When I first started, I couldn’t even get on the hoop without assistance. Now I feel so much stronger and more confident and that feeling keeps me buoyant the rest of the week.

I like to think that I’m well-rounded and doing a good job of juggling work, family and personal time. I’m happy to be a FTWM (full-time working mom) and I like my job as a teacher because it’s meaningful and benefits others. I try to avoid arguments about whether it’s better to be a SAHM or WAHM or PTWM or FTWM and just spend meaningful quality time with my family when I’m not at work. Of course, there are sacrifices to be made: I hardly watch TV, I don’t get as much sleep as I would like (hence the blogging in the wee hours) and our house is in a constant state of mess. But I think it is possible (and necessary for your sanity) to be a mom and still find time for yourself. It’s all a matter of give-and-take and ultimately, finding balance.

delphine3

A couple who laughs together …

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Food News, Infographics, Lifestyle

[Infographic] 5 Signs Of A Bad Macaron – Deborah Tan

OK. I won’t claim to have baked any macarons in my life. But I’ve sure eaten a great number of them!

Not my favourite dessert but with Laduree’s opening in Singapore this week, we are pretty sure a lot of people will be talking about those famous macarons.

Before you bite into one, here’s a guide to help you figure out just what – exactly – makes a BAD macaron. After all, it’s only when you know this, you are better able to enjoy a good one:

macaron101

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 to meet Steven Tyler in person one day.

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