Ronin Cafe Singapore

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Ronin Cafe Singapore
For a lazy Saturday morning, I visited Ronin Cafe with my friend at Hongkong Street in Clarke Quay. Ronin Cafe is a hipster indie cafe with simple but warm and comfortable style.

Surroundings:

This is the tinted doorway to fantastic drinks! I almost missed it as there wasn't any signboard.
Their logo hangs inconspicuously.
 
 
Cafe's lightings are dark and comfortable, with yellow lights shining on wooden tables. One gripe is that they do have uncomfortable chairs which make you feel like you're sinking down into the seat. But I got used to it pretty quickly.
 
 
 
Nice stool seats for 2-3 people lining the corner of the cafe. These seats are more comfortable than those at the proper tables.
 
 
Warning: It gets really crowded from 11.15am onwards. When I got there, the wait staff shared that the cafe was only open from 10.30am. 
 
The wait staff shared that their signature food items included the Brioche French Toast, Scrambled Eggs on Toast, 'Big in Japan' Curry Rice and Dirty Ronin Sandwich. All are substantial servings. Unfortunately, we weren't able to try the Curry Rice as it was not available at that time.

Instead, we went with the Brioche French Toast ($14.50) and Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($9). (I LOVE breakfast. :))
For my scrambled eggs on toast, I added the portobello mushroom (add $3.50) and the Pork sausage (add $4.50). It was a very satisfying breakfast. But the bread was somewhat not toasted well enough.

My friend went with the Brioche French Toast which contained braised apple, bacon, hazelnut butter and syrup. Does it sound very sweet?
It is. My friend said it was too sweet, but the salty bacon made it better as it balanced the sweetness better. But overall, the toast was nice and fluffy. This dish is very good for those with a sweet tooth, but I do have to warn that this dish is really sinful!

For the drinks, we took their signature Matcha-Tone (Green Tea latte, $5.50 - image below) and Wicked (Minted Mocha, $5.50).
I had my Wicked to-go. Although I'm a green tea latte lover, but to be frank, I did prefer their Wicked over their Matcha-Tone! While the Matcha-Tone was not too sweet (which was just great for me), the mint infused mocha (image below) had been so refreshing and delicious that I might have just branded it as one of my favourite drinks!
The drinks were smooth and I did enjoy it very much. This was the point-scorer for me in this cafe. I highly recommend the drink, it was really wicked!

(Haha, geddit? Geddit? Wicked is wicked!... ok, sorry.) :P

Ronin Cafe Singapore
Location: 17 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059660
Directions: Take the train to Clarke Quay MRT Station, Exit E. Cross the overhead bridge and head towards the direction of Hong Lim Park. Look out for Hongkong Street Signage and turn left. Walk straight down. You will see Fragrance Hotel and City Backpackers Inn. The cafe is right beside City Backpackers Inn.


Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro 四川饭店

Monday, 29 December 2014

Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro 四川饭店
To celebrate one of my bestie's birthday, I brought her to a fancy Szechuan restaurant sitting 35 levels above ground at Mandarin Orchard Hotel. I took the lift from the Orchard Wing through the Mandarin Gallery to level 35. 


I was greeted with a warm decor and posh surroundings.
 
  
 
 
I exceptionally loved the restaurant for the high ceilings and pretty lights. High ceilings added a taste of grandness to the place and I found myself getting comfortable quickly.

An introduction of the restaurant:
Akasaka Szechwan Restaurant, or Shisen Hanten as it is popularly known in Japan, was started in 1958 by the late Chen Kenmin who is regarded as Japan’s “Father of  Szechwan Cuisine.”Born in the Szechwan province of China, Chen Kenmin perfected his craft in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before settling in Yokohama, Japan. Capitalising on his expertise in Szechwan cuisine, he established Shisen Hanten with the vision of “making customers truly appreciate Szechwan food through all the five senses.” He passed down his legacy to his eldest son, Chen Kenichi, who himself earned wide acclaim as one of Japan’s most celebrated iron chefs.
Chen Kenichi then passed down his love for the Szechuan cuisine to his son, Chen Kentaro. Shisen Hanten at Mandarin Orchard Hotel Singapore is the chain's debut outside of Japan. 
Osmanthus pipa duck 琵琶鸭 (Half, $34)
To have this dish, pre-ordering at least a day before your visit is required as they need time to prepare the duck. My friend was allergic to nuts and seafood, so she couldn't take the sauce as it contained traces of peanut powder in it.

Even without dipping the duck in the sauce, the duck was good enough to eat on its own. It had a special flavour through marination and was roasted to perfection. Even better, it was 98% boneless, so there's no need to worry about spitting out bones.
Those who can eat the sauce should totally have it together with the duck. It was a wonderful combination when dipped into the sauce and gave it an overall deliciously unique flavour. This dish is highly recomended!

Hot & Sour Soup 酸辣湯 (Small, $10)
The Hot & Sour soup is also different from the original Szechuan type Hot & Sour soup as the spiciness and sourness was well balanced but not overpowering, unlike the original version of the dish. The soup was well done, with simple ingredients (mushrooms, meat, finely sliced beancurd) infused perfectly into the gooey broth.

Stewed fish fillet in super-hot Szechwan pepper sauce 水煮魚 (Small, $26)
If you've seen the original version of this Szechuan dish, you would probably be worried to order this dish. Would it be dripping with chilli oil? Spicy to no end?

Thank God, no.

I also asked them to not have it too spicy, and while retaining the flavour of the dish, they have managed to do this dish well without veering off the taste of the dish totally. I was bracing myself for an upset tummy after this (cos of the sheer spiciness of the original dish that I tried before), but fortunately, it wasn't that spicy and the peppery broth was still a pleasure to slurp. I was quite shocked that the dish came with all the red chilli peppers on top, but thank goodness it turned out quite fine.
The fish was nicely done and it was really tender and smooth.

Sautéed chilli pepper and chicken 辣子雞 (Small, $22)
This chilli pepper chicken is one of their most recommended dishes - at least by their wait staff. They weren't wrong. The dish was really nice and a surprising amount of crisp has made the texture of this dish very interesting!

Trio of egg poached with seasonal vegetable 金銀蛋滚时蔬 (Small, $20)
One of my favourite Chinese dishes. While it is nothing to rave about here, but I do like the broth of this dish and the vegetables were lovely too!

Chen’s original spicy soup noodle 担担麺 (Small, $12)
I have nothing to say about this dish other than to stick up both my thumbs. The texture of the noodles were really well done and bouncy.
The soup was not very spicy, just mildly, and it went very well together with the noodles. I recommend this dish to anyone who visits this restaurant.

Mango Pudding 芒果布丁 ($8)
I do not usually order Mango puddings in Chinese restaurants. But I'm glad I did, at this one. The pudding was really creamy and fresh. It was also worth it as you will find huge slices of mango in it. Topped with a little whipped cream and a wolfberry, it was a lovely and light dessert to end the meal with.

Hokkaido Green Tea Ice Cream 绿茶味北海道雪糕  ($8)
There are 3 flavours in total for this dessert, but I went with the Green Tea one. 2 others include Sea salt and Vanilla, but I didn't order that as the wait staff had recommended the green tea one. It was a good recommendation because the ice-cream was really creamy and tasty. It also came with some dried fruits, like raisins.

Overall, the meal was really good and satisfying. I would say that it was really worth the spend and here, I wish highlight the wait staffs' service, which really created a wonderful dining experience for us. Thanks to Doris, Danny and Yu Ting who had helped make the entire dining experience perfect. 

When I just casually mentioned that it was my friend's birthday, they surprised us with a complimentary slice of chocolate birthday cake during dessert time as well! My friend was really happy and we enjoyed our time here!


Menus can be viewed on their website and fans can follow them on their facebook for latest updates of their new creations

Average spending per pax: $70 - $90

Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro 四川饭店
Location: Orchard Wing Level 35, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867


GeekCafe.SG

Sunday, 28 December 2014

GeekCafe.SG
I was invited to the second branch of the GeekCafe Singapore about 2 weeks back for tasting of their coffee by one of the owners, Jeremiah, who also owns and designs and produces sellout watches under the brand, Ancien Soleil (Ancient Sun). 
While the general idea of the second branch will be a replica of the first cafe, much effort have gone into the styling and designing of the cafe to give it a rustic, hipster look that will offer a good place to chill and socialise. 

 
 

I had especially loved the lightings, which were picked with much care from their owners, who came from designing backgrounds.
Posters hung in their cafe, which is designed by the GeekCafe team themselves. 
 
During his introduction of their coffee, I was pleased to know that their cafe roasts their own beans. Their coffee uses a combination of Columbia and Brazil beans, and added with their coffee bean roasting and coffee making skills, the end result is a deliciously smooth and easy-to-drink cup of coffee latte!
Not only they are good at their coffee, but extended effort also goes into other drinks as well. I tried the Milk Hot Chocolate ($6) and the Green Tea Latte ($6), which is really good as well.

Usually, I dislike how hot chocolates make you feel very bloated at the end of the drink, and how it is usually very thick. But not for the Milk Hot Chocolate here, which is of the right consistency! They sourced one of the best chocolate powders from France and the rest is their own secret recipe, which uses only 33% cocoa powder, hence resulting in a drink that is light but does not lose the chocolaty taste. 

I liked how the Green Tea latte used the right amount of green tea powder, hence the taste wasn't overbearing as well. There was a slight saltiness in it and wasn't too sweet, which works just well for me! They have added a little brown rice mix in it as well for a unique touch of extra goodness.

All cakes are supplied from their partner, the Cat and Fiddle cheesecake store, which is well-known amongst cheesecake lovers. So be sure to order a cheesecake along with the coffee too!

The Spicy Arrabiata Pasta ($7.90) was very homely as well, and tasty for good value!
A warm, homemade mushroom soup with huge chunks of mushroom in it ($6.50) to comfort the stomach~
Another thing which is interesting to me, is that they also offer various classes, for example, a barista workshop, leather making workshops where people can learn to make crafts, or wait with a cuppa while their computer is being repaired! 

They also sell various items in their store, which includes the regular digital items, coffee making machines, drips, and more!
They have officially opened doors to their second branch last week! So, for good coffee and if you need to repair your computer (ouch!), visit them and stay tune on their website or facebook for available workshops as well!


GeekCafe.SG
First branch location: 81 Marine Parade Central #01-644, Singapore
Second branch location: 7F Crane Road, Singapore 429356
Tel: +65 6440-0256

This was an invited media tasting session.