Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bornga @Star Vista

Had lunch at Bornga for Korean BBQ for the first at Star Vista.  We ordered Woo Sam Yeop, which is a thinly sliced beef, and Samgypupsal, which means pork belly in simple English :), 200g each.

I thought with 400g of meat for the two of us, it might not be sufficient to fill our stomachs.  However, I was surprised.  They gave us plenty of greens, lettuce, chili, etc. If you worry about a healthy diet, at least these greens will help lessen the whatever bad effects BBQ food will have on your body.

And quite a number of sauces and sides to go with our meat.

Here are the meats we ordered in their raw form.

WooSamYeop ($28.00 for 200g)

Samgypupsal ($22.00 for 200g)

Wondering how you are going to get the best of the meat?  Don't worry, the service staff will do the job for you.  The staff skillfully BBQ the meat for us.  The woosamyeop is just nice, one minute more will be too much, one minute less will be not fully cooked.

Compared with the woosamyeop, the pork belly is less impressive in its quality.  I don't know where they source their pork belly, the skin was quite tough, which tasted like rubber.

If you lose a bit of appetite for consuming too much meat, their seaweed soup is there for you to enhance your appetite.  It was a bit mix of sweet and sour.  After drinking it, your saliva will come back and you will feel like your stomach can take on much more :)  And there is no additional charge to this soup.

Last but not least, your finishing 'dessert'.  My friend said it had 5 different tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and ...?

In terms of service, the waiter who did the BBQ for us was good.  For the others, I think many of them are either very new, or just temp staff, so they are not as professional as they should be.  It is a common problem to almost all mid-class restaurants.  It is also a price we pay for the tighter immigration policy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

So Pho @NEX

Discovered this restaurant for Vietnamese food at NEX.  The name is interesting, So PHO.  PHO, as I understand it, is a Vietnamese word for noodle with soup.  It pronounces like 'far'.  That's the reason why they call the restaurant So PHO (far), and their menu says:  So PHO (far) so good!

The deco of the restaurant is mixed Chinese and Vietnamese.  The cultures of these two countries are inseparable.  Cultures always interact with each other, and influence each other.  It is never meaningful to forcefully exclude one particular culture out from another.

We ordered the summer spring roll with prawn and chicken to share.

Summer Spring Roll with Prawn & Chicken ($4.80)

I must say I like it very much.  The lemongrass brings out the freshness in the filling, which consists of rice noodle, cucumber, chicken and red pepper.  Dip it into the accompanying sour plum sauce, the taste is further enhanced, your taste buds are activated and ready for a good meal.

My main course is slice beef noodle soup.

Slice Beef Noodle Soup ($8.80)

Vietnamese beef noodle is famous for its clear soup.  The soup base is clear yet it still retains all the taste.  The beef is thinly sliced, and cooked by the heat of the soup itself.  The soup is spiced up with spring onion and onion.  And I put in the bean sprouts, lemongrass, and some chili.  All these healthy, natural spices make the soup more delicious, more enjoyable.

I would say it is one of the nicer places to enjoy Vietnamese food here in Singapore.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Carousel@Royal Plaza on Scotts - 2nd Visit

It was my second visit within half a year to this buffet restaurant.  As usual, they have a large spread of seafood.  Crayfish, prawns, flower crab, hairy crab, mussels, clams, snails.  There are too many choices.  No oyster or king crab, though.  That's reserved for the dinner crowds.

The Japanese corner has plenty of choices of sushi, sashimi and Japanese noodles such as soba for you to choose.

If you don't like raw food, or cold food, they have cooked food for you too.  For cooked food, you have the choice of western, Chinese,  and Indian.  My personal favorite is the cooked salmon.  The meat was tender, it really just melt in your mouth.

No buffet is complete without dessert.

You think you have seen all, they still have fruit stations, chocolate fondue, yogurt, salads, as well as choices of expressio, cappuccino, coffee and tea.

I think this buffet so far the best value for money buffet I have ever had in Singapore.  For a Monday lunch, the whole restaurant was full.  Luckily they designed their seating sensibly so you won't feel too cramped.  However, I did notice there was some deterioration of seafood quality compared with my last visit, which was a Saturday lunch.

There is a 10% discount to most of the credit cards, so basically you can save on your service charge.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shi Li Fang Taiwanese Steamboat (食立方)

My friend introduced to me a new Taiwanese steamboat restaurant called Shi Li Fang (食立方). Literally translated into English, it means Eat to the power of 3!  Mmmh....The owner must be an engineer, or a mathematician!  The restaurant is located on the 7th floor in Orchard Central, a new 'in' place for food.

This restaurant is very unique in the steamboat scene, as most of the restaurant space is dedicated to individual hot pot, only less than 10 tables for two persons.  What does it mean?  This means that if you go there with a group of people with very different food requirements, for example, some don't eat beef, some don't eat mutton, some no fish, etc.  In that case, everybody in the group can have a hot pot for his own, and eat to his heart's content.  In addition, if one day you have a sudden craving for steamboat but so sad that you can find nobody to go with you, you can still come here to satisfy your taste buds.

Fish, Chicken & Mushroom Soup Bases ($11.80)

Anyway, we chose three soup bases, fish, chicken and mushroom.  My personal preference is the fish soup.  It was less thick, and not oily as the chicken and mushroom soups.

Cabbage and Fried Crispy Fish Skin ($3.50)

The fish skin tasted lousy as it was, but once you dumped it into the soup, wow, it offered a different and great taste.  It was soft yet chewy, with the soup fully penetrated into the fish skin.  I would say this is one most special dish I found here.

Superior Beef ($18.80)

Ribeye ($13.20)

Their meats were not bad.  I in particular like their superior beef, the one with fat spawning the entire beef, making it look like a piece of marble.  Oishi desu ne!

Scallops (S$10.60)

Prawns ($4.70)

Their seafood was not bad either.  Scollops and the prawns were fresh and had great taste.  I must admit I was disappointed when they brought us the prawn, just three pieces, so pathetic!  However, after I tasted one, I changed my mind.  The prawns for sure were fresh and of good quality.

Song Fishhead ($5.60)

Service-wise, I think you have to bear with them a bit.  As is the case for almost every other restaurant in Singapore, they are under staffed.  Only about 5 wait staff for the whole place, so you just have to be a bit more patient and be more understanding.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Canton Paradize@Compass Point

We visited Canton Paradize at Compass Point on a Saturday for dinner.  We decided to arrive at 5pm, just to avoid the dinner crowd.  For their branch at Jcube, there was quite a queue usually on weekends.

Obviously our choice was right.  We were ushered in briskly and got a 4-person table for the two of us.  Plenty of vacant tables around.  Some of their staff took this less busy period to have their own dinner, before the dinner crowd comes in and to avoid working with an empty stomach.

Meatball Congee ($7.20)

First dish was meatball congee.  The congee was good, probably cooked with a traditional claypot.  The meatball was not that nice though.  Too much seasoning, which overwhelms the meat taste.

Roasted Duck ($13.80)

Xiao Long Bao ($4.60)

We also ordered roasted duck, traditionally a Beijing cuisine; and Xiao Long Bao, traditionally a Shanghai cuisine.

The sour plum sauce that came with the roasted duck complemented the roasted duck well.  The sour sauce also made you have good appetite for more food :)

Cheongfun with Prawn ($5.80)

My most favorite dish for the day was the Cheongfun with prawn.  Well, it is a traditionally Cantonese dish, and I am a Cantonese.  There is a natural bias toward Cantonese food.  The prawn was crispy, the Cheongfun skin was nice, just like those you have back home.

As Canton Paradise is part of the Paradise group, you can choose to become their member.  You pay $30 for the membership and get 30 points, which you can use to pay for your bill.  1 point is equivalent to S$1.00.  In addition, you get a 10% rebate every time you dine at any of the Paradise group of restaurants.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tian Wai Tian Fishhead Steamboat (天外天鱼头炉)

We went there on a Wednesday evening.  The evening air was cool, after an afternoon's downpour in this raining season.  We arrived early so the place was not crowded yet.

Our first dish is fried morning glory (kunkong) with cuttle fish.  The portion for cuttle fish was generous.  The cuttle fish was crunchy, you could hear it snap when you bite it.  And it was simmering in a special chilli sauce, quite appetizing.

Second dish is crispy Tofu.  It was piping hot, and the crust was just the name says, crispy.

Last but not least, the fishhead steamboat.  We chose Song fish, a fresh water fish.  The first look was not that impressive.  My reaction was: The fish was fried!  As a Cantonese, we don't like fried fish!  However, the first bite changed my opinion.  Deep frying the fish somehow helps to retain the juiciness, freshness and tenderness of the fish.

In addition to fish, the steamboat had some other ingredients such as sea weed, cabbage, yam and lots of ginger slices.  The soup was thick and rich in fragrance.  I am not sure whether they add milk as some other places do.  You can also ask them to have more soup.

We left at around 7.45pm.  By then, the place was already full.  Overall, I would say it is a value for money place to enjoy some local delicacy in a typical Singapore coffee shop setting.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hoshino Coffee

We arrived at Hoshino Coffee at Plaza Singapura at 4.45pm on a Saturday.  There was already a short queue forming at the entrance.  One family and 3- 4 couples in front of us.  I was a bit surprised by its popularity.

They have a static display of the food on their menu at the entrance.  All the food looks very appetizing and the display helps the customers to decide what to order while they are waiting so to save time.  Good idea!

I ordered the signature Hoshino Spaghetti ($14.00).  It came with an egg, tomatoes, some leafy vegetables, ham, sausage and egg plant, top generously with fragrant sesame seeds.  And all these are simmered in olive oil.

For dessert, we ordered the double pan-cake ($12.00). It is nice to share this with a friend.  The cake is very fragrant.  The syrup added an extra dimension of the taste to it.

Last but not least, the famous hand drip Hoshino coffee ($5.80).

 The sip was pretty tasteless, and bland.  I was actually a bit disappointed with that.  However, as I took a second sip, and let it linger around my taste buds, a bitter sweet taste came.  It was very different from our normal coffee shop kopi-O or kopi-C.  I think they don't add margarine during the baking process of their coffee beans, that's why the coffee is more distinct.

Overall, it is a nice place for friends to gather and chit-chat over a cup of coffee.  The food is good value for money, considering the location and the settings.  Food portions are reasonable, enough to have a normal guy's stomach satisfied.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Credit Card Cross Border Transaction Fees

Recently I bought an air ticket through, and also a service from  The prices were quoted in Singapore dollars, and everything seemed to me that the transaction is done within Singapore shore.  However, when I checked my credit card bills, I noticed I had been charged more than the stated amount.  Feeling uneasy, I called up the credit card company.  Their explanation is that the merchants are located overseas, so a 'cross border transaction fee' had been incurred.  The rate is 0.8% of the transacted amount.  I am fine with the fee if I had been informed of it and I can tell whether the merchant is a Singapore one or an overseas merchant, but in this case, I bought a service in Singapore, through a .sg website, but in fact the transaction is considered 'cross border'.

A search on the internet shows that almost all the banks in Singapore have this charge, with the exception of OCBC, at the moment.  The worst seems to SCB, a foreign bank, and it happens to be the one I am using.

Now, the only safe way is to support our local business.  Book your air tickets, hotels, etc, everything from a local Singapore company, not with those overseas brands, not even if they have a .sg suffix in their website.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ramen Play Novena

In one of my old posts (Ramen Play), I mentioned the rice, or don, from Ramen Play is not bad, and next time I should try their ramen.  There is a will, there will a way.  I got the chance to try their ramen last Wednesday at Novena.

I ordered the ramen with pig's chin meat (3 pieces).  I specifically pointed out how many pieces of meat is included.  If you would like to have more, there is a choice for 5 pieces, at a slightly higher price.

My ramen came with a pretty good presentation.  The onsen egg is just too tempting.  I started with the pig's chin meat.  It is supposed to be the best part of the pig.  As expected, the chin meat is good.  It is a bit salty, but it is much better than all the pig's chin meat I had tried before, in terms of saltiness.  Onsen egg is good too.  I wonder how they make such onsen eggs, as there is no onsen in Singapore (except the one in Sembawang).  It is so tender and smooth.  I have weakness when it comes to this kind of egg.

The ramen itself is not bad too.  It is a bit like Cantonese wanton noodle, it has quite a bit of strength.

Last but not least, the soup.  The soup, as I expected, has been customized for Singapore taste.  It is a lot less salty.  You can tell it has been somehow diluted, to make it less salty.  Well, I would say if they can keep the original soup but less salty, that would be much better.  Another question I have is I don't know whether they mass produce the soup from a central kitchen like The Soup Spoon.  I hope not, as that is too industrialized, and lacks personality of individual shops.

Overall, I would say it is not too bad for that kind of price.  Even in Johor, you may not get this kind of food for the same price.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Carousel@Royal Plaza at Scotts Lunch Buffet

A lot of online food reviews rated Carousel@Royal Plaza at Scotts at the top hotel buffet in Singapore, so I made a reservation 3 weeks ago, for lunch.

The restaurant is conveniently located on the ground floor of the hotel, on the left side of you when you enter the hotel.  The hotel lobby is nicely decorated, giving you some kind of Italian renaissance feel.

We arrived at 11.55am, 5 minutes before the restaurant opens, so I just took a peek of the food that we would have.  There was a small queue at the entrance too, although they all had made a reservation.  Waiters will bring the guests in personally to their tables.  If it is your first time, they would also give you a briefing about all the food available and their locations.

First of all, let's walk around and take a look what are available first.

Seafood section is colorful and definitely appetizing.  There are quite a lot of choices, as you can see, but then unfortunately for oyster lovers, there is no oyster.  Oyster I heard is only for dinner.  The quality of the seafood is quite ok, although not of the top quality type.

Japanese section has different types of sashimi and sushi for you to choose.  Their salmon sashimi is not bad, tuna sashimi is ok, but then tuna is never my personal preference in the first place.

You have the salad section, which provides lots of greens and some pickles as well as meat.

They also have the hot food sections for western, Chinese, and Indian food.

Last but not least, the dessert section.  Ice water is free of charge, and the service staff will promptly re-fill it for you once you drain your glass.  Coffee is self service.  Their coffee must be really good, as my friend drank 3 cups of coffee, and 1 cup of expressio.

Take a look at some of my loot.  I quite like their dessert, not disgustingly sweet, but just lovely sweet.

For the very first time in my life, I tried the chocolate fondue?  Well, probably that explains why I never find it attractive :)

At 2.10pm, we left the restaurant with satisfaction.  For patrons paying with UOB, Citibank or Amex credit cards, you can get a 10% discount.  At the price of S$55/pax, it only amounts to less than S$60/pax after GST and service charge, after the 10% discount.