Category Archives: Restaurants

Department of Caffeine

Opened two years back, DOC is increasingly known for making wonderful pancakes and waffles. So when my friend was going through a pancakes craze, I said why don’t we give DOC a shot?

Brunch crowds at DOC are usually pretty long, so it’s wonderful that they are conveniently located at Duxton, surrounded by amazing shops like Flor Patisserie. and Littered With Books. There were about 5 people in the waiting list before us, so we spent the 20 minutes waiting time exploring the area.

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Long Black (S$4.50)

What surprised us about the weekend brunch menu (not the one featured above) was that half their food menu was crossed off. Savoury items like salads and meats were removed, leaving us with the typical brunch fare of waffles/pancakes/French toast and the usual scrambled eggs. It was a tad disappointing. Given the highly saturated brunch scene in Singapore, I would think that most cafés would try to stand out with interesting or slightly unique items. With that narrow a menu, DOC must have a great confidence in those few items.

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Flat White (S$5)

Having had Ronin’s coffee almost daily for the past month, DOC’s fell short. The Long Black was not as fragrant nor as strong. For the newly converted though, it is light enough and not overly acidic. Decent coffee at the very least. The Flat White fared better. The coffee was smooth and creamy, while the foam was really fine. Altogether a pretty well executed cuppa.

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Stuffed French Toast (S$16)

French toast is not usually featured on brunch menus, so we decided to give up on the waffles and have this instead. Essentially slices of brioche stuffed with maple syrup bananas, served with vanilla yogurt, blueberries and toasted almond slivers; this was nothing much to rave about. While Wild Honey uses brioche to their advantage, resulting in a buttery and fluffy French toast, DOC’s brioche fell short. They might as well have used normal bread. The bananas were overly mushy, there was no hint of any maple, and the tart yogurt sauce tipped the dish over. It sounds impressive on words, but a simple thick cut French toast with caramelised bananas, a dollop of yogurt and drizzles of maple syrup would have fared much better.

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B.O.E. (S$20)

Very adorably named “Bit of Everything” thus “B.O.E.”, it’s described as twin nests of premium spanish serrano cured ham & onsen egg and dill dressed smoked salmon with citrus dressing on herb and parmesan english muffins. A decent dish, nothing disastrous and nothing amazing. The combination of smoked salmon and serrano ham in a single dish does lend to the B.O.E. idea, and it very welcomed. We got a taste of everything within a dish. It would have been great to have another egg though cause one is just plain stingy. The downsides are the muffins, which had none of that amazing flavours and was just dense; and the salad which was not seasoned and tasted extremely raw.

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Shepherd’s Pie (S$16)

Smooth melt-in-your mouth mash atop a mess of piping hot saucy mince, this was the most impressive dish of the lot. Having diced vegetables together with the mince, as in a traditional shepherd’s pie, would have made it perfect. That, and a seasoned salad of course.

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This visit’s seen more hits than misses. I have visited on the weekdays though and know they make pretty decent savoury dishes, so there’s definitely more to DOC than their slightly disastrous brunch. For their famed waffles and pancakes, it’s still worth a visit.

Department of Caffeine
15 Duxton Road
Singapore
S(089481)
6223 3426

Mon-Tue: 10:30am-7:30pm
Thurs-Fri: 10:30am-7:30pm
Sat-Sun: 9:30am-7:30pm

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The Fabulous Baker Boy

The Fabulous Baker Boy is not news to brunch junkies. Most famous for it’s cakes, this quaint little bakery cafe has been garnering a steady crowd and following in its 2 years of operation. It recently went through a renovation, refitting the cafe with air conditioners. In the sweltering hot Singapore, who can say no to a good brunch and yummy cakes in an air conditioned area?

The usual problem with popular brunch venues though is, well, its popularity. There are so many people it takes ages for the food to arrive. That’s where desserts come in.

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Valrhona Chocolate (S$8++/slice)

Using chocolate of 70% cocoa, the Valrhona Chocolate cake was fudgy, chewy, yet moist and light at the same time. We loved this an polished it off in less than a minute.

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Carrot Cake (S$8.50++/slice)

Touted to be one of the best carrot cakes in Singapore, it certainly tasted so on the first bite. It was fluffy and lightly sweetened, and the shredded coconut was a wonderful addition. However it fell flat after a few mouthfuls. The cream cheese frosting lacked the tang, the walnuts and raisins weren’t significant enough, and the carrot laden sponge tasted like any normal vanilla sponge. It was quite the disappointment.

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Salted Caramel (S$8++/slice)

I loved how luscious salted caramel is generously slathered between the layers of valrhona chocolate torte. It gave the otherwise dense chocolate cake a welcomed salty balance. It’s my favourite out of the 3 we tried. It is quite a big slice though so it might be good to share it with a friend, to prevent it from getting too jelak.

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Corned Beef Hash (S$17++)

Chunks of corned beef, with onions, potatoes, and a little bacon, this is an absolutely hearty dish. I’m far from being English, but a spoonful of this sent me straight home. Simple fare, cooked with passion and love. This unconventional brunch dish is a definite must-try when visiting TFBB.

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Wild Mushroom Salad (S$14++)

Anything with an egg looks awfully awesome. Sadly the only other commendable part of the dish is the reduced balsamic dressing. Not many F&B establishments use reduced balsamic, which definitely kicks any salad up a notch. The mushrooms though are mediocre, simply sautéed with garlic. The salad didn’t taste like a properly composed dish, but more like a handful of veggies with a side of mushrooms.

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Towkay Ng’s Eggs Ben(S$12.50++)

TFBB’s eggs ben stand out from the others because of the way their eggs are made. Most eggs ben come with the average poached egg – a harder exterior of egg white encasing liquid yolk. TFBB’s eggs are similar to that of Symmetry’s, like a soft-boiled egg, with a softer egg white exterior encasing the yolk and semi-cooked whites. The hollandaise sauce was very well executed. It is a pity the brioche slices used were not distinct, so much that swapping it with the normal muffins would be preferable.

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Guinness Beef Pot Pie (S$18++)

A perfect pot pie, if not a tad too salty. It takes 15 minutes to make a pot pie, so you are assured it’ll come fresh out of the oven, steaming hot to your table. Crisp buttery pastry and delicious tender stewed beef, it’s absolutely worth the wait.

Several hits and misses, but the hits do explain why TFBB is such a popular spot. They don’t merely sell your usual brunch fare, including their interpretation of many local dishes. While their cakes have been slightly disappointing, the savoury dishes were executed pretty well. In the highly saturated ‘hippy’ cafe scene, TFBB is definitely one to look out for.

The Fabulous Baker Boy
The Foothills
70 River Valley Road
#01-15
Singapore
S(179037)

Closed on Mondays
Closed from 4:30pm-6pm daily

Tue-Thurs: 11am-10pm
Fri: 11am-11pm
Sat: 11am-11pm
Sun: 10am-5pm

Brunch/Lunch till 2:30pm
Tea till 4:30pm
Dinner till 9pm

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&Sons bacaro

Bacaro = A traditional Venetian gastrobar, where people stop to enjoy a drink together with little plates of food (cicchetti is similar to the Spanish tapas, but think of it as a regional variation).

This idea of casual dining seems to be increasingly popular, with Morsi and Sorsi launched by Lino Sauro of Gattopardo not too long ago; and now &Sons by Beppe de Vito of il Lido. Opened last December in China Square Central, &Sons seems to already have a pretty strong following. I’ve been there quite a few times, and they are always packed to the brim. Then again, with a wonderful ambience, affordable delish cocktails, and absolutely stunning cicchetis, why wouldn’t they be?

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Proscuitto di Parma & Melon (S$12++)

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Proscuitto San Daniele, Pickled Pears (S$12++)

There are features that distinguish both kinds of cured meats. However my unrefined taste buds aren’t accurately able to decipher anything. That aside &Sons cures their own meat, and judging by their proscuitto they are really good at it. The pickled pears are an absolutely ingenious pairing, adding a tinge of sour to the commonly sweet and salty combination.

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Burrata, Asparagus Cream, Hazelnuts (S$15++)

Lightly dressed greens, a generous portion of fresh and creamy burrata cheese, rounded of with grounded hazelnuts and a drizzle of olive oil – perfection in a plate. The quality of the ingredients lends to a fresh and appetizing dish.

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Grilled Smoked Caciocavallo, Avocado (S$15++)

I was really surprised when I found out that what I ordered was simply cheese! Meaty and chewy, the caciocavallo was deceivingly similar to perfectly grilled calamari. The charred exterior gave the smoked cheese an interesting contrastive texture, hitting the simple ingredient up many notches.

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Tagliolini, Crab & Nduja (S$9++)

For those who don’t know, I first fell in love with contemporary European cuisine after an amazing dinner at il Lido. I was most impressed with the pasta I had, which so happened to be their then Lobster Tangliolini. So this dish was an absolute throw back in time. Al dente noodles, perfectly executed sauce, balanced by slightly tangy crumbles of cheese. Wonderfully executed.

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Spaghetti, Sea Urchin Carbonara (S$16++)

This carbonara perfected the fine line between decadent and overly creamy. All mixed up, the sea urchin cream just barely coats the al dente noodles. It’s like a good aglio olio, where the olive oil is just enough to make it really savoury and falling short of oily. With sea urchin being naturally creamy, &Sons achieved the perfect balance. Of course it also helps that there was a copious amount of crispy bacon bits.

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Tagliatelle, Truffle Pesto (S$12++)

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Wagyu Beef Tagliata, Salsa Verde (S$26++)

The wagyu was nicely seared and tender; a decent dish. Compared to the other dishes it was not much to scream about.

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Baccala Cakes, Sea Urchin Sabayon (S$13++)

These entirely charred balls are actually cod cakes. Break into it, the fresh, sweet cod pairs wonderfully with the creamy sea urchin sabayon. It is odd though that it’s so burnt on the exterior; wonder if that’s intentional?

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Foie Gras, Pumpkin Cream & Roasted Onions (S$18++)

An unexpected combination, this dish is yet another culinary surprise. The usual apples or citrus pairings are absent here; instead &Sons uses another textually similar complement. Yet it works. The sweet pumpkin cream and the roasted onions paired really well with the buttery foie gras.

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Gelato – Pistachio (S$5++)

Creamy, fragrant and bold, this is the real thing. &Sons’ amazing Italian gelato is a must-have.

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Salted Caramel Strawberry Jubilee (S$12++)

A rather ambiguous name, this is rather like an Italian’s eton mess: meringue, ice cream and strawberries all jumbled up into a sinfully delish dessert. The plump and fresh strawberries were the highlight. Not exactly salty nor adding a slightly burnt and smoky dimension, the salted caramel however fell flat. It would have been perfect if the salted caramel was more pronounced.

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Raspberry Zabaione (S$12++)

A light custard, this classic Italian dessert is presented similar to a creme brulee. Flame-torched with handful plump tart raspberries, it is a wonderful way to end the dinner.

&Sons may be new, but being set up by people well established in the F&B industry it is definitely the new kid to look out for. They have recently launched their lunch promotion, offering wonderful pastas (a much bigger portion) at S$8. With the nice ambience, wonderful service and great food, it’s definitely a must to dine at if you’re around the CBD.

&Sons bacaro
China Square Central
20 Cross Street
#01-09
Singapore
S(048422)
6221 3937

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Poulét

A French casual dining restaurant, Poulét’s been around for quite awhile, probably a year or so, and has several outlets across the island. Dishing up typically classical French dishes in a contemporary bistro, it really seems as if Poulét brought a little of Paris to Singapore. Yet despite my love for European and French food, I haven’t visited them till recently. After my long stay in France I wasn’t sure Poulét would come close to anything I’ve had there.

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French Onion Soup (S$5.80++)

Lightly sweetened, this is one of the better French Onion soups I’ve had thus far. It’s definitely more savoury than sweet, though not savoury enough. The French Onion soups I tasted in France were all extremely savoury, with a rich beef stock and topping of melted gruyere. The Singaporean counterparts though seem to all be really really sweet. Poulét serves a decent soup; but nothing more.

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Sauté Wild Mushrooms (S$7.80++)

As usual the wonderfully oozy egg is the center of attention. Especially in this case where the liquid yolk is encased in such a solid and smooth white exterior. The shrooms themselves were simple and plain, nothing outstanding.

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Escargot de Bourgogne (S$8.00++)

Poulét’s escargot’s are slighlty different from the usual escargots, due to the addition of tomato puree. Salty parmesan, fragrant garlic and herbs, rounded off with slightly tart tomato puree – a wonderful composition of flavours. Just a little more seasoning and c’est bien. It’s not the best I’ve had, but it comes close.

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Half Poulét Roti(S$15.80++)

“Poulét” meaning chicken, it isn’t surprising for roasted chicken to be crux of their menu; or one of their better dishes. Tender and succulent, the chicken is roasted to perfection, with the skin being slightly sweet. The Chardonnay sauce is a surprisingly delicious addition, balancing out the drier chicken bits. I don’t usually like cream sauce, but I thought this is pretty yummy. My only request would be to have more spinach.

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Oxtail de Bourguignon (S$15.80++)

The server described this to be one of their bestsellers. Sadly it was an utter disappointment. While they nailed the tenderness of the meat, the sauce was executed horribly. It was bland, diluted, and lacked the richness that defines a bourguignon. Besides the tender meat the entire dish fell flat.

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Banana Bread Pudding (S$6.80++)

We originally ordered the Panna Cotta, just to find out it’s no longer on their menu. But wait, they serve Creme Brulee which is also not on the menu. Hmm I don’t really understand how that works. Anyhow we ended up with this Banana Bread Pudding which wasn’t all too bad. The bread pudding itself was a tad too custardy. The ice cream was not too impressive either. However the banana addition was surprisingly pleasant. The banana bits weren’t overwhelming, and was just enough to add a tinge of ‘banana’.

I’m still not convinced that Singapore can make wonderfully delicious, affordable tasting French food comparable to any roadside bistro in France. Still Poulét, with its hits and misses, does have its fair share of nice dishes. For affordable escargots and roasted chicken, I’d definitely return to Poulét.

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Amorino: one of the best gelatarias in France?

It’s surprising that gelato chain-shops like Amorino is considered by some of the locals to be probably the best gelataria in France. I’ve had my first taste of Amorino in Spain last year, and the experience was pretty good. Wanting to test the Frenchs’ judgement, I decided to give it my second go in Paris.

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Wooden furniture illuminated by the orange lights, Amorino exuded a homely vibe that made us feel welcomed at once. Walking towards the gelato counter, one will be amazed at the flavours offered. From your typical Chocolate and Vanilla, to exotic Pineapple and Coconut sorbets, and finally to never-heard-before ones like Speculoos; the sight of this astounding range was pretty damn exciting!

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I like Amorino’s concept of sales, charging customers for the size of cups/cones bought without restricting the number of flavours they can try. In other words, we could try all the flavours if we wanted to! The staff would then scoop an equal amount of each flavour into the cup/cone, and the amounts differ depending on the number of gelato flavours chosen.

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Clockwise from bottom to top: Cioccolato Ecuador Pure Origine, Speculoos, Caramello al Burro Salato, Pistacchio del Bosforo.

We got 2 grande cups for the 7 of us, with 4 flavours each. The pistachio was simply heavenly. Nutty and fragrant, it is probably one of the best pistachios I’ve ever had. Amorino offers 2 kinds of pistachio-flavoured gelatos, with one being sweeter and less nuttier. If I’m not mistaken, this is the Pistacchio del Bosforo. It has a deeper nutty fragrance and aftertaste, without being overly sweet. An absolute delight. The Cioccolato Ecuador Pure Origine was spot on. Apparently Speculoos is a brand of biscuits! I never knew so I can’t really comment on the authenticity of the flavour. It just tasted sweet and wasn’t that memorable. Finally: having tried several delicious salted caramel desserts, this gelato was disappointing to say the least. I think it would suffice to say I couldn’t tell the Caramello al Burro Salato from the Speculoos.

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Clockwise from bottom to top: Cocco puro Sri Lanka, Yogurt con Yogurt 0%, Tiramisu, Nougat.

This turned out to be the better of the 2 cups. First off the Yogurt con Yogurt 0% was absolutely delish. With little bits of coconut in the gelato, it was creamy, fragrant, and unique. Probably one of the best coconut-flavoured gelatos I’ve had too. Cocco puro Sri Lanka was another favourite of mine. I guess the best way to describe it is “slightly soured milk”. It has all the decadence and creaminess of milk gelatos, with a dash of sour that gives it a refreshing spin. The Nougat I didn’t like that much. Unlike the Australian nougat tidbits we love, this tastes much more like those almond essences. Tiramisu wasn’t that bad, except it would make a better Coffee than Tiramisu.

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With the hits and misses measuring at a 50/50, I guess I wouldn’t call it one of the best gelatarias in France. That’s not to say they don’t serve good gelatos. If you’re ever anywhere near Amorino, I’d still say it deserves a visit. Who knows, you might find some of the flavours actually worthy of those empty calories!

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Jacques Genin

Just a mere 15 minutes walk from Musee Carnavalet at Le Marais, Jacques Genin was the first sweets stop I scheduled into our itinerary. Having read so much about its amazing Pate de Fruits, chocolates and Paris Brest, I was dying to try them for myself. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s because Le Marais seems to be such a gothic district, I was expecting a small wood-furnished boulanger patisserie. Jacques Genin is anything but that. Huge glass windows reaching to the ceilings, bright orange lights and neatly arranged displays, it’s chic interior was extremely attractive.

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Food displays (left to right, clockwise): chocolates, packets of chocolate treats, caramels, pates du fruits.

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Pates de fruits

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Spiral stairs to the kitchen.

We came in a big group of 7, but the staff was very nice in preparing a table sufficient for us. It was really pleasant to find that he could speak fluent English! I know we’re in France and should learn to speak French, but…really it gets annoying when you’re trying to order food with that language barrier.

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After a 10 minutes wait or so, we were shown to our table where we were immediately served glasses of water. Thereafter the staff informed us about the pastries of the day, in which the Paris Brest was not included. So I asked about it, and I was told that since about a year ago they’ve stopped making regular pastries. They still have a few basics like eclairs featured on the menu, but the rest of the pastries change on a daily basis.

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Complementary chocolates

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Degustation aux caramels

This degustation featured a selection of 6 of their signature caramels. I can’t name the various caramels cause they weren’t written down, and in the mess of eating the various sweets I didn’t pay that much attention to these. What I can tell you though is that they are superb. That says a lot, coming from someone who doesn’t like caramels. Smooth, velvety and rich without being cloyingly sweet, these caramels are perfect. Perhaps what was lacking was the obvious difference between the 6 caramels. If I couldn’t tell the flavours of the caramels, I guess it isn’t that obvious or well done. Kudos for mastering a beautiful caramel though.

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Hot Chocolate

This isn’t your Starbucks diluted sugar-spammed hot chocolate. Parisian hot chocolate is much more different. Thick, decadent, and extremely rich, the hot chocolate tastes more like a melted block of chocolate than a drink. As delicious as it is, it becomes hard to swallow after about half a cup. It is very nice though, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who visits Jacques Genin, except it might be wiser to share it with a few friends.

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Praline Millefeuille

Having eaten millefeuilles at almost every bakery I pass in France, I would say that this is by far the best millefeuille that I’ve had besides Laduree’s I tried a few years back. The puff pastry is extremely delicate, with a perfectly caramelised outer layer, yet sturdy enough to hold the smooth praline creme patissiere. The best part of eating a millefeuille is cutting into it for the first time, hearing the crackle of the puff pastry, then putting a spoonful of that mess into your mouth. Il est parfait. JG’s millefeuille stands out because of its puff pastry, in particular how it remains crisp even in your mouth. I felt that the praline creme patissiere could be more pronounced though. It tasted like a slightly nuttier chocolate instead of having that very distinct praline flavour.

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Eclair Chocolat

They definitely have the best chocolate eclair I’ve tried thus far too. Perfect choux pastry, with a crisp surface and a fluffy interior; filled with amazingly smooth dark chocolate creme patisserie. Absolutely heavenly.

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Tarte au Citron est Basilic

I loved how the basil was subtle yet definitely discernible here. It kept the tart from getting boring after a few bites. In addition the lemon curd was just the right amount of sour. Eaten with the lightly sweeted shortcrust base, this tart was a breath of fresh air to all the chocolatey sweetness. A must-try to balance out all that sugar.

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On hindsight, it probably wasn’t such a good idea to put this first in my to-eats list. Cause everything pales in comparison now. If you happen to be in Paris, be sure to pay Jacques Genin a visit. Trust me: you won’t regret it.

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Restaurant-quality dishes with Tefal pans: cooking workshop at ONAKA

Say “quality restaurant food”, and I doubt “healthy” is the first word that comes to mind. Duck confit with creamy mashed potatoes and pan gravy; Spaghetti Carbonara with crispy bacon bits topped with a 42 degree poached egg – fantastically fancy, delicious, and utterly sinful. Hardly healthy at all.

Yet ONAKA Restaurant and Wine Bar disagrees. An acronym for Optimum Nutrition and Kitchen Arts, ONAKA revolves around the concept of conscious eating with a passion for cooking healthily. What’s really impressive is that the restaurant uses all-natural and selective organic ingredients without artificial additives, chemicals, colorings, flavorings, MSG, and trans-fats. About 50% of their menu is Vegetarian with special focus on Low Glycemic, Gluten Free and Vegan options; and no pork and lard is served at the restaurant! One word: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

It’s no surprise that Tefal, reknowned for their non-stick cookware, is the restaurant’s the natural choice conscious and healthy cooking. Where better to showcase the qualities of Tefal Comfort Touch Pans than at ONAKA? Attending a cooking workshop there thus marked the beginning of our culinary journey!

So to ONAKA at Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC) us 5 privileged bloggers headed to one fine Saturday afternoon. Conducted by Head Chef Jason Vito and his Sous Chef Benson Tong, the 2-hour workshop featured three dishes all whipped up with the Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan: Garlic Prawns on Toast, Roasted Mushroom Soba, Butternut Squash Pancake with Banana Ice Cream. For recipes and detailed cooking instructions, click on the title of the dish to view the respective cooking videos.

Garlic Prawns on Toast

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The meal started off with a wonderfully composed dish.

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Aromatic herbs and vegetables were first sautéed with some olive oil, before the prawns were added and flambéed with white wine. A knob of butter was later whisked in to emulsify the pan juices into a sauce. To plate, the prawns were placed atop a slice of homemade rye bread, drizzled with the sauce, and garnished with some micro-herbs. The final touch was a dollop of lime foam, made by passing some soy lecithin and lime juice through a handheld immersion blender.

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Prawns searing beautifully and evenly in Tefal’s frypan.

I must say I was extremely impressed with how Tefal’s Frypan allowed the even heating of the pan, which was reflected by the beautiful pink-ish sear of the prawns.

With Spanish cuisine as the backbone of this dish, the addition of chilli and kaffir lime leaves added a subtle Asian touch. The rye bread was lightly toasted in a panini press before being plated, and when soaked with the sauce resulted in a delectably chewy texture. Absolutely divine.

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Chef Jason holding up a dish to the camera for the omy crew!

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Our portions: sitting and ready to be gobbled.

And the cherry on top is, from preparation to serving, this simple but elegant dish can be whipped up in a mere 30 minutes! A perfect appetiser for any dinner gathering.

Roasted Mushroom Soba

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Smoked shimeji mushrooms were first sauteed with roasted shiitake mushrooms. Then dashi, tamari and mirin were poured in and brought to a boil. Next, blanched soba noodles were added and heated through before serving. A drizzle of truffle oil, and presto you have yourself a delicious vegan lunch!

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This deceivingly simple set of instructions undermines the sheer amount of thought and effort behind this ingenious dish. Chef Jason explained this to be intentionally designed for vegetarians. And not just any Lacto-ovo Vegetarian or Vegan, but Buddhist Vegetarians who cannot take even garlic or onions. This is no easy feat, because the dashi that is used as a base cooking stock in typical Japanese dishes is made with stripjack tuna and konbu (a.k.a. edible kelp). Talk about commitment to their trade, what the geniuses at ONAKA did was to go through a tedious 1.5 hour process of making their own dashi using dried konbu, specially shipped from Hokkaido, and smoked shiitake mushrooms in place of the traditional tuna.

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Plates of mouthwatering drool-inducing soba prepared for us!

Besides the special dashi, other elements of the dish came together in this perfectly composed dish. I especially loved the idea of roasting the mushrooms to give them a meaty texture, which is usually absent from vegetarian dishes. The truffle oil was also an unexpectedly welcomed addition. I dreaded tasting this dish because I have this thing against truffle oil. But I was extremely surprised that I actually liked the addition of truffle oil here! It gave this seemingly Asian dish a very subtle Western influence, simultaneously preventing the dish from falling flat after a few bites. Trust the truffle-hater when she says that it works wonders here and it is absolutely delish.

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Pumpkin Pancake with Banana Ice Cream

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Our tummies were a little more than bursting at this point, but dang pumpkin pancakes sound way too decadent to be missed.

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Ingredients required for this dish includes roasted butternut squash, and Chef Jason saw it necessary to show us the difference between a squash and a pumpkin.

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Cutesy smiley drawn on our butternut squash by Chef Jason 😀

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These pancakes are shockingly easy to make. They follow the standard wet ingredient-dry ingredient procedure every baker is familiar with. First, mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients separately. Next make a well in the middle of the bowl of dry ingredients, pour the liquids in and stir the mixture until it is combined. Cook the batter over a pre-heated pan over medium heat, and presto you’ve got yourself a wonderful pancake! The key here is to take care to not overmix the batter, as it could result in flat and tough pancakes. Now that would be nasty wouldn’t it.

Tefal Frypan’s non-stick qualities were best displayed here. Despite having no oil added to the pan, the pancake browned evenly, and flipped beautifully without leaving a trace of batter behind.

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Oven-roasting the squask could take up to an hour depending on the sizes of your chopped squash, so it’s good to know that it can be prepared ahead and refrigerated before being used in this dish. What is wonderful about this recipe is its versatiliy. Want it to be gluten-free? Replace the white flour with gluten-free flours like nut flours, bean flours, or simply King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour. Don’t like squash? Replace it with other root vegetables or even caramelised fruits, like bananas and apples.

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Boy oh boy was I lucky I decided not to skip out. The squash gave these cloud-like jacks a savoury bite, while the macerated berries and ice cream added to the contrasting textures and flavours of the dish. Fluffy and lightly sweetened, it will suffice to say that I am definitely saving these pancakes for a special occasion. Maybe a birthday breakfast-in-bed?

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And that was the last dish of our 2-hour cooking workshop. Thanks to the amazing staff from omy.sg, Tefal, and the wonderfully talented chefs over at ONAKA, I left the restaurant feeling overly ambitious and inspired to whip up my very own super healthy 7-course meal. That and feeling horridiously full to the brim.

I felt ridiculously happy for a few reasons. For one I have never found a restaurant living up to its claims of serving healthy yet delicious food. The Living Cafe was an utter disappointment, and vegetarian restaurants – with all their oyster-sauce dishes and fried mock meats – aren’t no better. Having personally seen the ingredients that go into the preparation of ONAKA’s dishes, I am honestly impressed at how they mastered the fine line between restaurant-quality, even fine-dining worthy, dishes and healthy conscious eating.

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Chef Benson Tong told us about this chilli jelly they made to serve with their “Oyster Omelette”, essentially their rendition of the traditional hawker oyster omelette that we have here. Eaten with their homemade rye bread, the jelly kinda tastes like a solidified cube of chicken rice chilli.

The wonderful food aside, I’ve never interacted with chefs this intimately before. Cracking jokes with them, learning about the different steps that goes into the preparation of their dishes, even down to where they source their ingredients from. It’s so easy and quick for people to make a judgement about a dish, to nit and pick at it, that we often forget the tremendous effort invested by every person in the culinary team. From the head chef down to the very waiter. This experience has made me more aware of what goes on behind a dish. And I’ll be sure to hold my reservations and talk to the chefs or servers before fixing my judgement.

But of course the ultimate motive behind this cooking demonstration was for us to learn more about Tefal pans’ functions, before coming home to whip up a few of our own dishes. We left ONAKA with our very own 2 pans from the Tefal Comfort Touch Pans series, ready to head on to the next part of this challenge!

Do scoot over to Tefal Chef Challenge for updates on my progress, and stay tuned for the recipes! Check out our posts and vote for the one you think deserves to win, and you might just win yourself a Tefal blender!

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