Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Populus Café – Simple Breakfast and Good Coffee

Magic at The Populus

Our friends from Malaysia are in town for an exhibition and we are glad to accept their brunch invitation. What an opportunity for us to escape our daily grind and have a delicious brunch in the city.

This is actually my second time visiting The Populus Café. My first visit was a few years back during our makan kaki café hopping session. At that time, the experience was not overly impressive, probably because it was our third stop on that day.

The Populus

Apparently, we arrived much earlier than our friends, so we decided to order first. Simple Brekky ($12.50) – scrambled eggs and mixed mushrooms and back bacon (2 items from extra menus) on multigrain toast.

Simple Brekky 

It was a solid, unpretentious breakfast. The scrambled eggs were done right, eggy, creamy and moist sitting on two slices of thick toast. The bacon is crispy and the mushroom is buttery awesome.

LD ordered Populus All Day Big Brekky ($25) – Soft poached 64º eggs, aerated hollandaise, potato rosti, frankische sausage, smoked salmon, homemade baked beans, L&P mushrooms, and mixed salad.

Populus All Day Big Brekky

The version of a luxurious breakfast. The egg is perfectly done and ooze out nicely when you cut through it. Hollandaise sauce is light instead of rich and thick, while the vinegar taste in the poached egg is very subtle almost undetected. On the base was rosti instead of bread, however, we will like it better if it is crispier and with a touch of salt and pepper on it. With the smoked salmon and sausage, it was like a party on the plate.

To accompany the breakfast, LD ordered Paris Moonlight Tea ($8). It was very fragrant, flowery and easy to drink.

Paris Moonlight Tea

I ordered Magic ($6) for my coffee. For the beans, I asked for something nutty, bold and chocolate less fruity. The barista picked the blend for me, nicely executed latte art and it was just yum.

Magic

The place is comfortable and good to catch up with friends. Of course, the delicious food and drinks help as well. Other than breakfast, their worldwide inspired lunch dishes look interesting. I look forward to my next visit and try the rest of their menu. Cheers!!

Food & Drink: 7.75/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Budget per Person: $11 - $25, $26 - $50

The Populus
146 Neil Road
Singapore 088875

T: +65 6635 8420
IG: @Thepopuluscafe
OH:
Mon: 09.00 – 19.00
Tue: 09.00 – 16.00
Wed – Fri: 09.00 – 22.30
Sat: 09.30 – 22.30
Sun: 09.30 – 19.00

Menu available Online

Please check their website for other location

Monday, 16 July 2018

Som Tam – Twirling Som Tam Way to Your Stomach [MEDIA INVITE]

The Spread @ Som Tam 

Som Tam is a Modern Thai Fusion Restaurant by Jus Delish Group. The group behind Gin Khao, Talay Kata and currently running Porn’s as well. Som Tam opened its door in September 2015, showcasing Thai Fusion dishes that enhance the diners’ taste buds.

Som Tam Singapore

Recently, the team at Som Tam has created a few unique and unexpected dishes and mocktails for diners to savour.

Som Tam Motto

Black Chicken Curry with Musan King Durian ($26.80). Yes, you did not read it wrongly. Musan King Durian with chicken curry. Don’t expect to see the durian prominent in this dish, because it is mixed into the curry. You can expect a bold, rich, creamy and pungent black curry that will burst in your mouth. At first, it really tasted foreign to me, however, I got used to it after a few bites.

Black Chicken Curry with Musan King Durian

The chicken itself is moist and tender. They use only the leg part, to ensure the meat remain succulent. Served with this curry are roti (prata) and som tam. To balance the richness, it is good to eat the curry with the som tam. Instead of roti, I think white rice will go better with this curry.

Part of the Dining Area

Massaman Curry with Roti ($23.80). Not the first time that I ate Massaman curry. The version at Som Tam is thicker, richer and sweeter. Though the menu said that it is spicy, it is definitely not and the sweetness of the curry can be too subtle for those like spicy food. The chicken is moist and tender. Similar to the black curry, it is served with roti (prata) and som tam.

Massaman Curry with Roti 

Thai Souffle Steamed Egg ($10.80). Presentation wise, it is the same as the Korean version of steam egg. The difference, however, Som Tam version contain tom yum broth and fish sauce, making it fluffier and lighter with a touch of seafood taste from the tom yum. The best part of course, the eggs did not stick to the wall of the pot, unlike the Korean version. Definitely, a must try dish here.

Thai Souffle Steamed Egg

Thai Style Grilled Squid with Mentaiko ($18.80). The squid is nicely grilled. Springy with a slight chewiness. Borrowing the playbook from Japanese receipe, the mentaiko sauce is added to creamy bold flavour to the dish.

Thai Style Grilled Squid with Mentaiko

Together with the new dishes, you can also enjoy their innovative mocktails. Blue Cha with Coconut ($6.80), refreshing combination especially with coconut water as the base. Rainbow Perrier Ice ($6.80), sparking, with different syrup flavour from the ice. The sweetness level is very low.

Blue Cha with Coconut 

Rainbow Perrier Ice 

Purple Rain ($6.80). Combination of lime juice and blue pea flower syrup seems to be in trend now. The more you pour the lime juice, the lighter the colour becomes. Avocado Shake ($7.80), rich, creamy and bursting with avocado flavour. Almost the same flavour as the Indonesian version.

Purple Rain

Avocado Shake

Overall, it is indeed a creative creation by the team at Som Tam. LD and I personally have difficulties in accepting the flavour of the curries as it is quite different from the Thai curries we had before, but I must tip my hat to their creativity. We totally love the egg souffle, mocktails and avocado smoothie. Do give these new dishes a try and let me know what you think. Cheers!!

Food & Drink: 6.5/10
Value: 6.5/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 7/10
Budget per Person: $26 - $50

Som Tam
Modern Thai Fusion
181 Orchard Road
#08-13. Orchard Central
Singapore 238896

T: +65 6238 6872
IG: @Somtamsg
OH:
Mon – Thu: 11.30 – 15.00, 17.30 – 22.00
Fri – Sun: 11.30 – 22.00


Friday, 13 July 2018

AquaMarine – Crustaceans Bonanza and Singapore Heritage Buffet [MEDIA INVITE]

Crustaceans Seafood Stew

July and August are special months in the calendar of AquaMarine at Marina Mandarin Singapore. This July, it is an open invitation to seafood lovers to enjoy the Crustaceans delight. Highlights of the dishes include:

Boston Lobster Thermidor

Boston Lobster Thermidor baked with Asian sambal and cheese. The flesh of the lobster is springy and with cheese. The taste of the sambal is subtle, however, it offset the richness of the cheese nicely. As the main attraction, you will need to queue for this dish, but it is definitely worth the wait.

Boston Lobster Thermidor

Scampi with Organic Pumpkin Risotto. I like the presentation as it uses the cheese wheel as a serving bowl for the cooked risotto. The risotto is creamy and al-dente, alas the taste of the pumpkin seems to be diluted by the cream. The scampi is fresh, while the parmesan added to the richness of this dish.

Scampi with Organic Pumpkin Risotto.

Southern France Crab Gateau. In simple term, humongous crab cake. The combination of crispy exterior, with natural sweet crab fillings, is just awesome. I think this is the best dish of the night. Yum Yum!

Southern France Crab Gateau.

Black Pepper Crab, one of the famous Singapore dishes. The crab is meaty and fresh, while the black pepper sauce does have a kick in it. Be prepared to get your hands dirty for this dish and lick off the black pepper sauce later.  

Black Pepper Crab

Crispy soft-shell prawn with cereal and chicken floss. Cereal prawn is one of the perennial favourite zhi char dishes. It is crisp and succulent, and you can enjoy the prawn without using your hands.

Crispy soft-shell prawn with cereal and chicken floss.

Crustaceans Seafood Stew. A hearty dish that I have a soft spot for. Seafood ingredients include Boston lobsters pincers, clams, scallops, prawns, squid, crabs and vegetables. All inside a robust and hearty broth. Who can say NO to this dish?

Crustaceans Seafood Stew.

Crab Meat Fried Rice. The force of the Wok Hei is strong with this fried rice. The al-dente rice is simply fried with egg and topped with crab meat at the end. A simple seasoning with lots of crab meat, making this carbo-loaded dish not to be miss.

Crab Meat Fried Rice

Cold Seafood. Part of AquaMarine regular buffet line up. The huge oysters are fresh, brainy and delicious to suck. While the prawns are springy and crunchy. A top-notch seafood indeed.

Cold Seafood

AquaMarine – Crustacean Nights
When: 19 June to 31 July 2018, Every Tuesday and Thursday dinner.
Where: AquaMarine at Marina Mandarin Singapore
Time: Dinner, 18.30 – 22.00
Price: $72++ per Adult, $36++ per Child
For enquiries and reservations, visit www.meritushotels.com/marina, call (65) 6845 1111 or email: aquamarine.marina@meritushotels.com.

Seafood Penne

For the month of August, the theme will be Singapore Heritage Buffet, which includes these mouth-watering dishes.

Wagyu Beef Rib ‘Satay’

Wagyu Beef Rib ‘Satay’. The sumptuous version satay. The wagyu beef ribs are marinated with satay sauce before it goes into the oven. The meat part of the ribs just fall off the bone and it just melts in your mouth. The rich peanut flavour absorbs evenly into the flesh and you can top up the peanut gravy during serving. Yum Yum

Wagyu Beef Rib ‘Satay’ - Small Portion

Deep-Fried Asian Crab Fitter with Salted Egg Mayo. Crispy and delicious, filled with the sweet flavour of the crab. The salted egg mayo is placed at the bottom, so you have to make sure you dip it to get the rich, saltish creamy mayo. Expect a crab flavour bomb in each bite.

Deep-Fried Asian Crab Fitter with Salted Egg Mayo.

Marinated Ayam Buah Keluak Shawarma in Lotus Bun. Creative invention with the touch of Peranakan. The soft lotus bun wrapped the succulent buah keluak boneless chicken definitely something you can look forward too.

Marinated Ayam Buah Keluak Shawarma in Lotus Bun

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou. This version here is comparable to the top chilli crab restaurant in Singapore. The silky egg chilli gravy is fiery and packs with punch, perfect to dip the fried mantou in. The crab itself is fresh and meaty and perfectly soaks up the gravy.

Singapore Chilli Crab 

Fried Mantou

Sambal Whole Salmon Fillet. If you ask why not Stingray. The answer is because it is difficult to obtaining huge size of stingrays consistently to feed the customers in Aquamarine. The Salmon might be different in texture, however, look forward to the sambal to tantalise your taste buds.

Sambal Whole Salmon Fillet

On weekend (Friday, Saturday and the eve of Public Holidays), diners can look forward to our action station whipping out sugarcane juice and durian, all-time local favourite that you simply cannot miss.

 
Part of Desserts

AquaMarine – Singapore Heritage Buffet
When: 1 to 31 August 2018
Where: AquaMarine at Marina Mandarin Singapore
Time: Dinner, 18.30 – 22.00
Price: From $60++ per Adult, $30++ per Child
For enquiries and reservations, visit www.meritushotels.com/marina, call (65) 6845 1111 or email: aquamarine.marina@meritushotels.com.

Food & Drink: 7.75/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 8/10
Budget per Person: $51 - $80, $81 & Above

AquaMarine
6 Raffles Boulevard
Level 4, Marina Mandarin Hotel
Singapore 039594

T: +65 6845 1111
IG: @marinamandarinsg
OH:
Breakfast: Daily 06.30 – 10.30
Lunch: Mon to Fri, 12.00 – 14.30
Lunch: Sat, Sun & PH, 12.00 – 15.00

Dinner: Daily 18.30 – 22.00

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Caesar Park Hotel Taipei – Superior Double Room Review

Caesar Park Hotel Taipei
Image Credit: Booking.com


Caesar Park Hotel Taipei **** (4 Star Hotel)
台北凱撒大飯店
No. 38, Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, Zhongzheng District, 100 Taipei, Taiwan
忠孝西路一段38, 中正區, (台北市, 100)


 
The Bedroom

Room Type: Superior Double Room – TWD 4100 nett (S$ 185 nett) – Without Breakfast
Stayed: May 2018
Booking through: Booking.com

Location: (10/10)
Located smack across Taipei Station, the location is very centralised. LD and I need to take HSR the next day, we just need to cross the street to reach the station.

Taipei Main Station


Around the hotel, there are lots of restaurants to satisfy your cravings. We went to eat Taiwanese Mazendo beef noodle at the next building. In case if you are die die must eat Singaporean food, there is Hawker Chan located at the building next door as well.

Mazendo beef noodle 

Noodles in Tomato Soup with Braised Beef Brisket

You can begin your shopping spree from Taipei Underground Mall continue Zhongshan Metro Mall. The shops in these malls can be separated into different categories: shoes, bags, handphone accessories, hobbies, food and entertainment. Don’t expect to find branded stuff here.

LINE Shop at Taipei Main Station


Room: Overall (8.375/10)
Cleanliness (9/10). Space (8/10). Room Facilities (8/10). Bathroom (8.5/10)

The room is clean, spacious with a generous walking space. There is also a sofa for you to relax or put your bags. TV size is decent, sufficient for the room size. Good working table with universal plug. Amenities for coffee and tea are provided as well. Safe box size is standard, sufficient to put 11” laptop in it together with your valuables.

The TV and Amenities

Bathroom amenities are good. Complete set of Towels: body, hand and face. Toiletries are kept in one of the drawer and hair dryer in the other drawer. One of the things that I like about older hotel is that there is a bathtub. You hardly find this in a boutique hotel or modern hotel if you book a superior room. So plus point here. I used the bathtub for soaking, though I find that part of the wall is ageing.

Bathtub and Sink

Shower

The space in the shower is generous indeed. The door is working properly and you don’t see any water splashing out after you finished showering. I love the toilet bowl, as it comes with Washlet.

Toilet Bowl with Washlet

Wifi Connection: Wifi Connection is good. Very fast and easy to connect

Hotel Amenities: N/A – No time to check it out
(Gym, swimming pool, spa, etc)

Hotel Restaurant: N/A – No time to check it out

Service: 10/10
During the booking, I asked for hard pillows and it was arrange prior to our arrival. We absolutely had a good night sleep.

The Reception
Image Credit: Booking.com

Overall: Highly Recommend.

This is our second time staying at Caesar Park Hotel Taipei. A very good hotel for business or holiday. If you need to move around Taipei, this is one of best location that you can get. Love it, will definitely in my list for the next Taipei visit. The price is reasonable considering it is a 4* hotel and its enviable location. 

Monday, 25 June 2018

Niku Kappo – Evolution of Japanese Beef Cuisine

Wagyu Sashimi at Niku Kappo

Explore the evolution of Japanese food culture through generations at Niku Kappo, their motto stated in Niku Kappo website. This statement sure makes my culinary senses comes to life. Niku Kappo is a Japanese restaurant that focused on their Wagyu Beef offerings. When you reach the front of the restaurant, the beef replica and wagyu beef cuts are staring right in your face, you will know what you must eat here.

Niku Kappo at Ion Orchard

Our beef exploration begins with Wagyu Mori ($29.90), Assorted Wagyu Beef Sashimi. For beef sashimi virgins, I strongly advised you to give this a try. This assorted beef sashimi is just amazing. The marbling and texture of each slice are unique and easy on the palate.

Wagyu Mori

Wagyu Sashimi

Wagyu Sushi Mori ($28.90), Special assorted wagyu sushi (6 kinds, 1 pc each). It consists of Wagyu Toro Sushi (The fattier wagyu); Wagyu Rossini (Wagyu sushi served with foie gras and shaved truffle); Wagyu Uni Sushi (Grilled Wagyu topped with uni); Wagyu Rump (Wagyu sushi using the leaner meat); Wagyu Tataki Sushi (Beef that is seared on the outside and raw on the inside); and Grilled Miso Wagyu (Wagyu slice is marinated in miso sauce).

Wagyu Sushi Mori

Each of the sushi showcase different way of enhancing the flavour of the wagyu. I tried the Wagyu Toro Sushi and it just melts in your mouth. Almost like eating an Otoro sushi. The other piece that I tried was the Miso Wagyu, where you can taste the miso sauce soaks into the sliced of wagyu and infused the flavour into the sushi rice as well.

Wagyu Toro Sushi

Wagyu Kushi Mori ($39.90), Assorted wagyu skewers consist of Grilled Wagyu with grated radish and ponzu sauce; Wasabi; Flavoured with Edo sweet miso; Flavoured with Saikyo Miso, Flavoured with homemade steak sauce.

Wagyu Kushi Mori

The seasoning and marinate gave different flavours to the juicy and succulent Wagyu Beef Skewers. #Beefgasm indeed. It is recommended that we eat this before it gets cold, and we extinguished it double-time.

Part of Our Wagyu Spread

Yaki Tetsu Kobe Style – Kyushu Wagyu ($38.90 per person). Min order 2 pax. The signature dish of Niku Kappo. This historical dish originated in Yokohama in 1868, when it was not a common practice to consume beef in Japan. It begins with a dish called Gyu Name.

Ingredients for Yaki Tetsu Kobe Style – Kyushu Wagyu 

It evolved through the years and the dish was refined by adding miso and leeks to remove the smell of the beef. Slow cooked in cast iron (Yakitetsu), the beef absorbs the flavours from miso, vegetables and other ingredients.

Yaki Tetsu Kobe Style – Kyushu Wagyu 

In Niku Kapo, the Yaki Tetsu Kobe Style will be cooked on the customer table if the space allowed or at the nearest location if the table is crowded. The taste is just marvellous. The white miso and foie gras absorb into the tender and succulent beef, vegetables, beancurd and glass noodles. The beef just delicately melts in your mouth while the rest of the ingredients coated in rich and creamy white sauce.

Yaki Tetsu Kobe Style – Kyushu Wagyu - Check out the Beef

We tried the Edo style (sweet miso) the last time, so we decided on white miso this time around. We recommend the Kobe style as it is more towards savoury flavour.

While beef is the main star here, there are other dishes for non-beef lovers. For starters, Niku Kappo Salad ($8.90) and EDO MISO Vegetable Dip ($8.90). The combination of fresh vegetables and potato salad definitely get a plus point in my book. Topped that with savoury pork floss and vinaigrette dressing, it created a good appetizer.

Niku Kappo Salad

Miso vegetable dip has always been LD’s favourite. The chilled and crunchy vegetables polished with minced meat miso dip is just delightful.

Edo Miso Vegetable Dip

Chirakashi Sashimi ($23.90). Niku Kappo version of Sashimi Moriawase served in fisherman style. What a presentation! Each sliced of the sashimi are generous and fresh. We definitely loved the touched of micro herbs and tobiko. Definitely value for money.

Chirakashi Sashimi

When we were seated, we were served complimentary mojito while we are looking through the menu. I also ordered Fruit Tea, Red Tea ($6.90). It is cold, refreshing and I ate the fruits inside (mango, kiwi, grapefruit, orange and lime) as desserts. LD and her friend ordered Sake.

Fruit Tea - Red Tea
Complimentary Mojito

The décor of the restaurant bright, zen and focused on maximising each space. The seating area are spacious, you don’t have the squeeze with your guest. Service is good and efficient. Price is definitely value for money.

Part of the dining area

Chef's Table

Overall, for a uniquely historic Japanese Beef Experience, this is a must try restaurant. Thank you very much to Andre and his family for introducing this place to us. Kanpai!! Cheers!!

The Moo Moo says it all. (See Top Left of the photo)

Food & Drink: 9/10
Value: 9.5/10  
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 8.25/10
Budget per Person: $26- $50, $51 – 80.

Niku Kappo
By Watami
2 Orchard Turn
#B3-23 Ion Orchard
Singapore 238801

T: +65 6509 9366
IG: @watami.sg
OH: Daily 11.30 – 22.00

Menu available online

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