Erwin's Gastrobar (MBFC Branch)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Erwin's Gastrobar (MBFC Branch)
It was a good day for an al fresco dining in Singapore, so I visited Erwin's Gastrobar with my bestie for lunch. She had dined there previously and was raving about their steak. Hence, she convinced me to give it a go. 
Their lunch menu was made up of a good selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads and pastas. I also liked that they had a column dedicated to healthier options - like the Lemon Sole, Baked Salmon or Herb Chicken Salad. The lunch is available from 11am to 3pm, every Monday to Friday. 

As we sat outside the restaurant, it was just nice and not warm at all. After settling down, we ordered food and the wait staff were pretty friendly, even though the place was pretty filled up. High seats are apparent in the restaurant, whether you sit indoors or outdoors.

DETAILS 

Area: 
Marina Bay / Bayfront

Country: 
Singapore 

Price: 
$$

Good For: 
Big Groups / Small Groups / Friends / Solo

Accessibility: 
Approx. 3 mins walk from Downtown MRT Station 

LET'S EAT!
Under the constant egging of the bestie, we ordered the Black Angus Rib Eye (200g, $22.50). The Rib eye was lean, but the bestie was disappointed when it was served. The steak had shrunk considerably, compared to the previous time she visited.
She went with medium well because she's on team squeamish (a.k.a no bloods in meat please!). Taste was on the average side for me, as were the sides (fries and salad).

Worth the cost? Yeah, sure, probably. Worth the tummy space? I personally think I can do without it.

For me, I asked the wait staff for restaurant recommendations, which led me to order the Classic Burger beef patty with black pepper cheddar and coleslaw ($18.00).
The purple coleslaw added lovely colour to the dark brown of my medium done patty.

While the beef patty and the almost fluffy buns initally made my day, the taste in its entirety came across familiar - then, eureka!
I knew what it was. It was the burger, that tasted like a super upsized version of McDonald's cheeseburger. At that moment of realisation, I literally felt my tummy scorn a little.

The only probable difference, might be the slightly juicier and thicker patty. The bestie agrees.

Finishing our mains, we wanted some dessert to up our moods. Then, I spot Cannoli on the dessert menu, and I was excited. Cannolis are not super common desserts which are offered, so we decided to try that. For $9.50, we were surprised that they served it in mini ice-cream cones instead of the usual fried shells. 
While I did enjoy its fillings - strawberries, apricot compote, vanilla mascarpone and chocolate ganache - the space of the mini ice-cream cone made sure to minimise the amount of fillings that would otherwise fill out this lovely Italian classic. 
Missing the oomph, much?

On top of that, I didn't enjoy the mini cones because some parts of the cones seemed to be softened, putting a damper on my meal's sweet ending. 
Overall, I couldn't say this was a great meal, just an average one. Perhaps with the bestie's constant praises, I had set higher expectations for this place than I should have.

Erwin's Gastrobar @ MBFC
Location: 8A Marina Boulevard #01-01, Ground Plaza Singapore 018984
Operating Hours: 8am - 11pm (Mon to Wed), 8am - 12midnight (Thurs & Fri)
Tel: +65 6634 8715
Website: http://www.erwins.com.sg/

Aloha Poke: Hawaiian Salad Bar opens Tanjong Pagar

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Aloha Poke: Hawaiian Salad Bar opens Tanjong Pagar
Aloha! As I step into the Hawaiian salad bar last Friday, there were neither any 'Aloha!'s nor dancing hula girls. But I was greeted with a huge work crowd, who were there for a go at the newly opened Aloha Poke, all aiming to get a healthy lunch.
A little overwhelmed at the support of the healthy-eats seeking crowd, their cashier does seem to be a little all over the place. But might be understandable, given that it was open just less than 2 weeks ago.

Chef Michael, himself, was helping out at the floor. And he even assigned me my seat at the crowded eatery. I got a seat shortly after purchasing my food.
For us, poke means to jab at someone with a finger, right? Well, the Poke in their name means something totally different. Or perhaps, a clever pun like Hawaii giving our food nation a hello "aloha poke"?

Anyway, Poke (pronounced Poh-keh) is a traditional Hawaiian staple for surfers, which comprises of seasoned Ahi (tuna) tossed with toasted sesame seeds, sweet onions and scallions.
According to Aloha Poke, their fish are always freshly prepared in their lightly marinated secret sauce. Mix them with superfoods, and you've got yourself an Aloha Poke salad.

DETAILS

Area: 
Tanjong Pagar / Telok Ayer 

Country: 
Singapore 

Price: 
$$

Good For: 
Small Groups / Friends / Solo / Takeaway

Accessibility: 
Approx. 2-4 mins walk from Telok Ayer or Tanjong Pagar MRT Station

LET'S EAT!
First, you have to select your order on a piece of paper first, which is available with pencils, around the eatery. Then, after you've selected it, pass it to the cashier, who will then confirm your order, and have you pay first.
If you are a first timer there (like me) and don't know what to order (or are just plain lazy to make your own choice), you can make a selection to have their Standard Nalu Tuna or Salmon bowl, which they will mix and match for you. In other words, what they recommend as the perfect poke bowl.

Every bowl is served with rice and salad, your choice of poke, and topped off with scallions, pineapple and lime. It also includes 2 complimentary add-ons and 1 superfood.

I told them I didn't want any rice in my bowl, so they removed that option for my bowl. If you go for rice, they will give you mixed rice - which is just a mix of brown and white rice.

My salad mix consisted of the vegs, 2 servings of Ahi Tuna (150g), original Aloha Poke sauce, carrots, almonds, pineapple and avocado. It did look very healthy and it made me feel like I was making a good healthy choice by coming here.
The bowl is the normal, standard sized bowl, and without rice, it felt as if the veg servings were still little. I just wish they would have put in more vegetables or offered an additional serving in replacement of the filling rice.

I did enjoy the taste of the entire salad. I squeezed the lime over the salad and mixed it well. The salad mix was light and refreshing.
The tuna was flavourful and fresh. However, I felt that the quantity of the ingredients, like the avocado and pineapples, would have better enhanced the taste of the salad if they just had slightly more of it within the bowl.

Anyway, there was a good amount of tuna, and I was a happy girl.
All done!

Other than the salad, you can also select from a wide variety of drinks too, like Cold pressed juices ($7.90), Cocoloco ($5.90), Nakd Water ($3.90), Kona Beer ($13.90) or Brother's Cider ($14.90).
For me, since I was aiming for healthy anyway, I decided to go all the way with the cold pressed juice -  'Never Miss a Beet'.
The purplish red mixure in a glass bottle consists of beetroot, carrot, kai lan, ginger, pear, pineapple and lemon. The juice tasted pretty good.

Other cold pressed juices flavours offered at Aloha Poke include the 'Smells like Green Spirit', 'Coco Cloud', 'Choco Sutra' and 'Citrus Ninja'.
All cold pressed juices are from A Juicery, which you can check out their juice ingredients on their website.

My total lunch bill came up to a whopping $23.80. Well, while taste scores above average, I'm not sure if I'm going to be poh-keh or not poh-keh with eating so expensive everyday.

Aloha Poke
Location: 92 Amoy Street Singapore 069911
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 11pm
Tel: +65-6221-6565
Website: http://www.alohapoke.com.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alohapoke

Dragon Bowl 龍碗 serves up lovely Cantonese Fare

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Dragon Bowl 龍碗 serves up lovely Cantonese Fare
Over last weekend, during my staycation at the nearby Marina Mandarin Hotel, I chanced upon a Cantonese restaurant within Marina Square mall. Opened on Valentine's Day this year, its first branch began in Aperia Mall, selling only dim sum items. A few months later in September, the second second branch within Marina Square mall was opened, serving not only Dim Sum, but also other Cantonese fare.

With an experienced kitchen crew spearheaded by Executive Chef Leong (who previously came from a Shang Palace background), they target to preserve traditional Cantonese flavours, serving a wide range of Cantonese dishes, such as 'Roast Peking Duck, Pan Fried “Kurobuta” Pork Chop with Honey Sauce, Braised Homemade Bean curd with Bamboo Charcoal Powder, Braised Pork belly in Special Sauce, Deep Fried Prawn with Pumpkin creamy Sauce, Double Boiled Fish Maw in Superior Shark’s bone soup and many more'.
Being a Cantonese girl myself and a lover of Cantonese food, I was very excited to dig into their dishes upon hearing about it.

Did you know? 
Visitors to their restaurant can also get a free Marina Square parking coupon from Dragon Bowl when they dine in the restaurant. That's awesome!

DETAILS

Area: 
City Hall / Marina Square

Country: 
Singapore 

Price: 
$$

Good For: 
Big Groups / Small Groups / Friends / Solo / Takeaway / Family 

Accessibility: 
Approx. 2-6 mins from City Hall, Esplanade or Promenade MRT Station

LET'S EAT!
We took up their $78++ current promotion, which includes their signature Roasted Peking Duck, Roast Duck Bone Soup and Braised Duck E-Fu Noodle.

This promotion serves up a 6-people portion. But as there were only 4 of us, we took half of the promotion, paying only about $39++, and also added on some ala-carte dishes to share.


Needless to say, this promotion of theirs is really worth it, because their usual price for the Peking Duck costs about $22 for half, and $40 for whole.

And they also did not waste any ounce of the duck meat, as the remaining duck was used to make the Roast duck bone soup (with preserved vegetables) and the Braised Duck E-fu Noodles, both are dishes that you will not be able to order off the ala carte menu. And even these non-menu items, tasted awesome.

Going back to the Roasted Duck, I can understand why it is their signature dish. In all ways, they did this dish right. The duck meat is tender and mostly lean, the duck skin is crisp and melts in your mouth.
Even the sweet sauce that you lather within the crepe before wrapping the duck in, is tasty and not overly sweet. (Pardon my tummy growling now while I'm typing this, recapping what I ate there is simply not easy.)

Under the ala-carte menu, we ordered their highly recommended Stir-Fried Tenderloin Beef Cube with Black Pepper & Red Wine (紅酒黑椒牛柳粒, $24 for small size). Seriously, I loved this dish.

The beef cubes were not only tender and flavourful, it was amazingly filled with the wok's breath (aka wok-hei). Even a picky eater, like my sister, could not stop munching on this.
We also tried their Braised Mixed Vegetables with Shredded Conpoy & Superior Stock in Claypot (上汤干贝什菜煲, $12 for small size), and our tummies were pleased with its flavours in entirety, as the conpoy really enhanced the fragrance and taste of the dish.
Sit back, eat and relax as a pretty lady in cheongsam strums and plucks on her Pipa, producing lovely classic and fusion tunes for your enjoyment. This live performance is only available on Fridays and Saturdays.
Overall, I really enjoyed the entire dining experience here, from the food, to the surroundings, to its service. I'm glad to add this restaurant as one of my favourite Cantonese restaurant. And yes, I will be back again to try out their dim sum too!

Dragon Bowl is also located very near Milk & Honey yogurt soft serve, which you can visit for dessert after a satisfying meal here.

Dragon Bowl 龍碗 - Marina Square (City Hall) branch
Location: 6 Raffles Boulevard Marina Square #03-129A, S039594
Tel: +65 68581588
Website: http://www.dragonbowl.com.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragonbowlrestaurant

A-One Bak Kut Teh (Star Vista)

Friday, 23 October 2015

A-One Bak Kut Teh (Star Vista)
Opened on 20 August, the multi-branch A-One Claypot House is now officially venturing into Bak Kut Teh (肉骨茶, abbrev. BKT). 
This new concept of theirs is known as A-One Bak Kut Teh, and the branch at Star Vista is their first BKT themed eatery, which has taken over the now defunct Boston Seafood shack.


DETAILS

Area: 
Buona Vista

Country: 
Singapore 

Price: 
$$

Good For: 
Big Groups / Small Groups / Friends / Solo / Takeaway / Family 

Accessibility: 
Approx. 3 mins walk from Buona Vista MRT Station (Exit C) 

LET'S EAT!

All cooked with their signature Bak Kut Teh (BKT) stock recipe, which uses high grade white pepper for boiling and simmering for hours, they have churned out many BKT themed dishes, some of which we tried when we visited. Some were less peppery, some were more fiery.

Under the dishes cooked with their bak kut teh recipe, I liked the good ol' Pork Ribs Soup ($10.90) which was peppery. I also liked that the tender meat which was easy to remove from the bone.

Take the meat and dip it into their dipping sauce mixture: Sweet black sauce, chopped garlic and chilli padi. The taste is awesome.


I am a lover of Pig's Organs Soup. Surprisingly, if you order their Pig's Organs Soup ($9.90), they also cooked it with a less peppery version of their BKT stock. However, I can't say this is my favourite, because the peppery taste takes away the essence of the soup, somewhat.



If you want something more filling, try their BKT Pork Ribs Porridge ($10.90) and Minced Meat with Meat Ball Porridge ($9.90). 
Like usual popular A-One porridge in other branches, the porridge here is cooked with pearl rice, which makes the porridge smooth, with softer grains. Both porridge is cooked with BKT stock for 45 minutes, using high pressure cookers.

Meat lovers, you can try the dry BKT Chicken Cubes ($12.90) and the Braised Platter ($14.90). 

The Dry BKT Chicken cubes are interestingly similar to the Kung Pao chicken dish. But for their rendition, they used their BKT soup base to cook it. It's fragrant, with addition of thinly sliced dried cuttlefish.

The Braised Platter, on another hand, is similar to the assorted braised items that you would go with your kway chap. While the gravy is flavourful, I was a little bummed out that they didn't include pig intestines in this dish. Both dishes are great with rice.

For non-meat lovers, you can have a go at the Ampang Yong Tau Foo and Assorted Vegetables in Sambal sauce ($10.90).
For the Ampang Yong Tau Foo, it comes in 3 sizes: small ($9.90, medium ($14.90) and  large ($18.90). Ours was the medium sized one, good for 2 - 3 pax.

The assorted vegetables feature, what A-One likes to call, the 4 'heavenly kings' of vegetables, namely: Sweet peas, eggplant, ladyfinger and long beans.

Overall, it is interesting that they have come up with this concept where most things can be cooked with a signature bak kut teh stock, but the control of the BKT flavour - more fiery, spicy, peppery or BKT prominent - are just a thin line from being different.

Hopefully, they have mastered controlling the flavours for various Bak Kut Teh dishes, because there must be an edge to the various dishes even if it is BKT themed. Importantly, flavours need to be kept consistent for its returning  BKT loving customers.

A-One Claypot House

Location: 1 Vista Exchange Green #01-46 Singapore 138617
Operating Hours: 10:30am To 9:30pm (last order)
Tel: +65-6734-6567
Website: http://aonegroup.com.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/a1porridge



This is an invited media tasting session.

Pies & Coffee: New menu items!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pies & Coffee: New menu items!
Founded in the year 2011, this pie cafe has since captured many hearts that love pie. Their pastries are buttery and carries crisp, yet crumble once it arrives in your mouth.

You might have remembered my review on Pies & Coffee's Orchard Branch last December. Unfortunately, their Orchard branch has since closed but they are still doing well at four other existing branches, namely: Robertson Walk, Rochester Mall, The Grandstand and Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC).

Details

 Area: 
Alexandra / Labrador Park

Country: 
Singapore

Price: 
$

Good For: 
Big Groups / Small Groups / Friends / Solo / Takeaway / Family

Accessibility: 
Approx. 3 mins walk from Labrador Park MRT Station

Let's Eat!

Today, I visited their ARC branch to try new flavours which they've recently launched about 3 weeks back.

For those who loves local flavours, you can try their Curry Chicken Pot Pie ($14.50). The curry is fragrant, paired with the succulent chicken, all set in a pot pie. It's an entire Chicken drumstick in there, so you're bound to get loads of meat there.
Some new offerings include the warm clam chowder ($9.20), Hungarian Beef Goulash Pot Pie ($14.50) and the lobster bisque baked rice ($14.90).

Warm your gut with these lovelies, especially if you like rice, as the lobster bisque baked rice takes six hours to prepare, all simmered and soaked in the goodness of the lobster bisque sauce before baking.

Personally, I also enjoyed the Hungarian Beef Goulash Pot Pie as the beef was really tender and its sauce went well with the pie crust. Their goulash has been stewed for more than 5 hours, much effort had definitely went into this seemingly small, yet filling pot pie.

You may also like to have a go at their all-time signature dishes, like the Wagyu Beef Cheek ($11.90), Charcoal Crust Curry Chicken Pie ($11.20), Croque Monsieur ($14.90) and the Barbeque Chicken Pie in Beetroot Crust ($11.90), if you haven't already done so.
On a sweet note, they also launched a Cake-of-the-month Hell'O'Ween Pumpkin Cake ($6.50 a slice, $52 for whole) at all outlets, which will be available only through Halloween.
Be sure to also check out their other desserts, like the Teh Tarik cake ($4.90 a slice, $39 for whole) and Blueberry Crumble ($7.80 a slice, $68 for whole).

All the new items, mentioned above, are available at all Pies & Coffee outlets.

Pies & Coffee
Location: 460 Alexandra Road, #01-18, Singapore 119963
Tel: +65-6273-0042
Operating Hours: 8.30am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am-6pm (Sat, Sun & Eve of PH)
Website: http://www.piesncoffee.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/piesncoffee.sg


This is an invited tasting session.