31 January, 2008

Hanabi Japanese Restaurant

If you have not read this, I am not a big fan of buffet. This is especially so after my last trip to Ikoi did not impress me much. However, since my friend suggested Hanabi @ King’s Arcade, a direct competitor to Ikoi, we make a reservation for dinner on a Saturday evening.

When we arrived, it was fully packed – not a place conducive for conversations over dinner. However, with over 100 items to choose from, patrons will definitely be spoilt for choice.

We started with the Sashimi, and it was excellent. It was fresh and the serving was generous – definitely bettered that of Ikoi’s – no wonder another friend of mine has been urging me to visit them for their sashimi.

The Mixed Tempura was also of pretty good standard. I like for the fact that it is thinly coated with flour and served piping hot – it is simply enjoyable to consume them.

However, the Sushi Handroll could definitely be better. I totally despise seaweed used for sushi not being crispy – an indication that it is not fresh and has been left in the open for too long – no matter how good the ingredients are inside the sushi, mushy seaweed just does not cut it.

We also tried a few more dishes along the way, which however is too troublesome for review – so here are some of the other photos taken that night for your viewing pleasure.


Chicken Karaage

Agedashi Tofu

Chicken Tonkatsu


Kushi Mori - Shishamo and Mushroom

California Matroll

Overall, Hanabi is ideal for non-fussy Singaporeans who delight themselves in Japanese cuisine. With a wide menu range, this restaurant certainly appeals to them with the quality of food – in my opinion, definitely a better bet than Ikoi. Service was found wanting at times especially when it comes to topping up of tea and taking orders. Service staffs are mainly non-Singaporeans so communication could also prove challenging at times.


Food: 3.5/5 (Decent spread, wide menu range)
Service: 3/5 (Found wanting at times)
Ambience: 3.5/5 (Laid back decor, decent furbishing)
Price: 3.5/5 (Pretty value for money)
Total: 13/20
559 Bukit Timah Road
#01-03, King's Arcade
Singapore 269695

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27 January, 2008

YY Kafei Dian - Buns to crave for

I always have a fixation for things nostalgic. Perhaps it was the way I grew up where quaint kopitiams flourishes, and a notion that food courts serve sucky food for pampered people who do not know their food any better. It was no wonder why I am so excited when I discovered YY Kafei Dian – known for their Hainanese cuisine.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice was good by any standard. The rice seems a tad yellowish, probably from the chicken oil - pretty fragrant but could be tastier. The chicken though was of good texture. It was cooked in such a way that there is a nice layer of gelatine under the skin – and this could only be achieved by dipping the whole chicken into a pail of ice water prior to serving – as such, some may tend to find the chicken too cold for consumption.

The other favourite dish among the office crowd was the Char Siew Wanton Noodles. The noodle was tangy and ingredients were generous, but above that, there is nothing noteworthy to mention.

However, what YY Kafei Dian is probably most famous for is their Soft Kaya Buns. The buns are baked and toasted on the premises, and no one could ever dispute the fact that the texture of the bun is amazing – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Although I felt that Killiney’s kaya and butter combination is better, one should definitely try their peanut butter version, along with a cup of aromatic Hainanese Coffee...awwww!!!


Food: 4/5 (Consistent standard of food)
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 4.5/5 (Sucker for
nostalgic setting)
Price: 3.5/5 (Slightly costly)
Total: 15.5/20
37 Beach Road
#01-01, Formerly Shang Onn Hotel
Singapore 189678

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20 January, 2008

Astons Prime - Birthday Treat (or Trick)

Located a stone throw away from their flagship outlet, Astons Specialities, sits Astons Prime – a more Atas, or upmarket version of their sister outlet that cater a wider range of premium meat cuts – with bookings and reservations accepted.

The meal started off with the complimentary bread and homemade garlic spread, which my dad and I like it pretty much. While some might argue that the spread was bland and tasteless, I like it for its fragrant while finding some strong tasting ones overpowering, to the point artificial. Unfortunately, that is as good as it goes for the night. The Wild Mushroom Soup although generous with the shrooms, tasted just like any canned soup, and there is really nothing wild about it since the mushrooms used are nothing special. A case of misleading advertising? You tell me.

The main course was the USDA Certified Angus Beef Ribeye Choice Cut that is known for their propensity to produce tender, flavourful beef. They have just the right amount of marbling to insure a juicy, incredible full-bodied flavoured steak. When it finally arrived after a long wait, I was so hungry that any dish you serve me should taste good, but what do you know – first cut to the meat and there was no blood to be seen for a medium rare steak. A second cut that halves the steak shows the same result although mine was slightly better than my dad’s – at least my meat came with a hint of pink on the inside, while my dad's steak came well-done. Thank goodness we did not ordered the Grade 9 Wagyu Beef, which would have been a waste if it was cooked this way.

But more drama was to unfold as halfway through our dinner, we realised that my mum’s Fillet Mignon has not arrived. We checked with the staffs not once, but twice and the response we got was “Sorry but the grill is full, you would have to wait”. I was left wondering for a second whether the staff is implying that it is our problem that their grill is full? It is obviously an oversight that the kitchen has forgotten the order since 5 of us are already halfway through our mains. I wouldn’t be half as angry if he had proceeded to say that he would tell the kitchen to expedite the order, but instead he goes on to mention “other table is also waiting for their steak”. That really left me speechless – What has another table waiting for their steak got to do with us? Is the supposedly "you are not alone" statement suppose to make us feel any better? The manager tried to diffuse the situation by apologising and offered a complimentary oil soaked Chicken Quesadilla, which my bro-in-law had a bite and spit it out saying that it tasted funky. Badly trained staffs coupled with lousy service recovery methods, all these which can only be found Uniquely in Singapore.


Food: 1.5/5 (Unlike its flagship outlet, cannot serve a decent piece of medium rare steak)
Service: 2/5 (Badly trained staff and lousy service recovery)
Ambience: 3/5 (Simple furnishing)
Price: 2/5 (Not worth the price for such badly executed beef)
Total: 8.5/20
467 Joo Chiat Road
Singapore 427678

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14 January, 2008

Lunch @ Wild Rocket

Willin Low, owner and a lawyer-turned-chef, firmly believes that the real purpose of cooking is to make people happy, and opening a bistro tucked away in a quaint trendy corner is his dream. And this dream was realised in early 2005, when a friend convinced him to take a look at the Hangout Hotel nestled in the quiet enclave of Mt Emily Park.

Being located in District 9 but nestled on a hill away from Orchard Road nearby gives Wild Rocket the advantage of being accessible yet far away from it all. But most importantly, Wild Rocket serves what Will and his friends like to eat - basic, fuss-free cooking – simple good food with the best ingredients possible. The meal was kick-started with the complementary bread. Despite being served warm, I felt that the serving was pathetic, and also the lack of Balsamic Vinaigrette to the olive oil dip, disappointing.

I opted for the Salmon Carpaccio with Wasabi Sauce & Ebiko for my starter and I was impressed – the fish was lovely sliced into thin sheets and goes well with the Mayonnaises Sauce, but what I found absent was the lack of wasabi flavour which was pretty much non-existence in this dish.

Having heard so much about it, I naturally choose its signature Wild Rocket Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Relish as my main dish and boy was I sold. The Beef Patty was excellent – nicely mashed and chopped up, the texture was just right and what’s more it was enormous! Moreover, the sun-dried tomato relish complemented perfectly with the beef – producing a harmonise flavour of salty, sweet and sour all in one bite.

For dessert, I selected the Vanilla Ice Cream with Roasted Black Sesame Sauce – highly recommended by one of my colleagues – and once again, I was amazed by how such a simple combination could produce an excellent dessert. The texture of the sesame sauce was finely grind and produces an amazing flavour, and it was not too sweet which goes extremely well with the vanilla ice cream.

Overall, I will highly recommend this venue for a business lunch.


Food: 4/5 (Every dish was very good, but there is room for improvement)
Service: 4.5/5 (Very friendly and accommodating staffs)
Ambience: 5/5 (Nice environment and quiet - perfect for dates)
Price: 4.5/5 ($30 for excellent business lunch is affordable)
Total: 18/20
Hangout Hotel,
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Singapore 228119

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07 January, 2008

Waffletown - Waffle at it's best!

For those who craved for the once popular A&W Fried Chicken and it’s nostalgic fixed-stool-table, you can look no further than Waffletown at Balmoral Plaza. This old school American diner charm was once located at the basement of Bukit Timah Plaza and has since assembled a loyal following.

We were there on a Saturday afternoon and the outlet was fully packed with families and students. We ordered a 2 Piece Chicken Meal, coupled with Mash Potato and Coleslaw. Visually, the set did not look appetising at all in its presentation. But after sinking my teeth into the meat, it sets to dispel the notion that the dish is poorly executed. Its no frills approach ensure that the experience you get is one of “homely” feeling and not that of the commercialise KFC. I personally also like the coleslaw, which is not finely chopped – ensuring that every bite comes with a crunch of the cabbage.

However, the mash potato left much to be desired – it is made from powdered mix that does not give one the full-bodied experience of a potato. And if you wondered why we shared a 2-piece set, it is because as the name suggest, they also specialise in Waffles. I have to commend that this is the best waffle that I have tasted for a very long time.

It was freshly made, dished up hot and crisp, served with the opted Vanilla Ice Cream, Whip Cream and Blueberry Puree. The blueberry topping was very well executed – intense in flavour yet not too sweet. Like every wonderful finale to a dining experience, we left the place with a huge smirk on our face - Hmmmmmmm……


Food: 4/5 (Could be better with the mash potato)
Service: 4/5 (Very friendly staffs)
Ambience: 4/5 (I am a sucker for old-school diner)
Price: 4/5 (Value for money)
Total: 16/20
#01-02 Balmoral Plaza,
271 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259708

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03 January, 2008

Hup Kee - Fried Oyster Omelette

Once stood the famous makan icon in Singapore…the Esplanade Satay Club – the breezily located Makansutra Gluttons Bay offers plenty of local food galore. And among them stood one of my favourite ‘Ou Luak’, or Fried Oyster Omelette Stall – Hup Kee (Orchard).

This stall started off in the 70's at the famous Orchard Carpark night hawkers and now operates two outlets, the other being at the Newton Hawker Centre. What is so amazing about their dish as compared to others is that the eggs and the sweet potato flour are somehow done crispier, and less oily, which sources revealed is based on a 40-year-old recipe. I personally also found the eggs to be rather fluffy inside which gives it an excellent bite.

You will also find a good number of fresh, succulent and plump Korean Oysters served on top with a sprinkling of freshly cut coriander and spring onions. The chilli sauce that comes alongside is also tangy and very addictive. Standard of the dish is consistent, as I have since gone back a couple of times and definitely value for money! A must try every time I am around the vicinity.


Food: 4.5/5 (Excellent)
Service: 4/5 (Very efficient)
Ambience: 3.5/5 (Open-air, slightly hot and humid at times)
Price: 4.5/5 (Value for money)
Total: 16.5/20
Stall K, Makansutra Gluttons Bay
Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802 [CLOSED]

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