Grub And Grog Galore @ SFFA And RPB Asia 2019

If you love grub and grog as much as I do, joy is being in a hall filled with hundreds of fine food and drink booths offering samples for anyone who’s keen to have their taste buds tickled. I was hence delighted when Musings on the M49 was invited to the 3rd annual Speciality & Fine Food Asia (SFFA) and Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia (RPB) 2019 where I could do exactly just that!

Held at Suntec Singapore from 17-19 July and featuring more than 200 artisanal food and drink producers, the trade show is primarily a platform for producers to network and forge business opportunities with people in the food service, retail and hospitality sectors. It was truly a global affair as there were exhibitors from Canada to Spain, Taiwan to Uzbekistan. It was also good to see much local representation with many Singapore producers showcasing their locally-crafted fare – from cheese to beer to mead.

Thanks to organiser Montgomery Asia, a specially curated media tour was arranged for us to check out a diverse range of products on display. Here’s a selection of the goodies that yours truly had the pleasure of sampling.

FINE GRUB @ SFFA2019 & RPB2019 (Selected)

Meats from Spain

Though this Provacuno (Spanish beef industry) booth says “Beef from Spain”, the professional chef doing live demonstrations prepared a few different meat dishes for visitors to try including beef kebab, roast lamb skirt and a veal item. We only had time for the first two but the wait was absolutely worth it – both meats were succulent and absolutely juicy and delicious. (www.provacuno.es)

Dried Fruits & Nuts from Uzbekistan

Truth be told, I noticed Uzbekistan only when they play in an Asian World Cup qualifying round. At their pavilion, we learnt that the Central Asian country is also known for being producers of high-quality dried fruits (grapes, apricots, melons, etc), nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc), jams, as well as flour and sugary confectionery. The samples we tried were definitely good and tasty. (http://uzkand.uz)

Cashew Cheese Crafted in Singapore

We were also introduced to Kroodi cheese, the first plant-based artisanal cashew cheese in Singapore. Created by Claudia Cani, an Italian based here, her cheeses are “dairy-free, lactose- free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and preservatives-free.” Now I love cheese and I love cashews, but the cashew-based cheese took a while to get used to. Still, I’m always game to try new types of cheese. Purchase is available at kroodi.com and RedMart.

Pastry, Baked Goods & Tea from Taichung, Taiwan

Taiwan food fare is very popular with Singaporeans and seven foods companies from Taichung, Taiwan’s second largest city, were out in full force to promote their products. Items include various Taiwanese pastries and handmade baked snacks such as tasty almond cookies and pure milk shortbread, as well as fragrant milk tea and coffee drinks. (www.taichung.gov.tw)

FINE GROG @ SFFA2019 & RPB2019 (Selected)

Gin & Natural Mineral Water from Sri Lanka

One of the first fine grog we tried was from Rockland Distillery. Colombo No. 7 (www.colombosevengin.com) is a Sri Lankan take on a London dry gin, flavored with seven spices and botanicals including juniper berries, curry leaves and cinnamon bark. With a ABV of 43.1%, the gin when taken neat is complex and vibrant. At the same booth, we also got to sample Olu Tropical Water (www.oluwater.com), a “natural mineral water sourced from the cloud forests of Sri Lanka”. One thing for sure, it definitely tasted better than your regular tap water!

Blueberry Wine from Michigan, USA

Hailing from Michigan, USA, Vintas Sapphire Blueberry Wine carries much fruity aromas and is sweet on the palate, though not as sweet as a dessert wine. With an ABV of 11%, it’s easy to drink and goes well with the generous cheese and dried fruit platter provided. It would certainly pairs well with meat and dessert items as well. (www.vintas.com.sg)

Mead Made In Singapore

“It’s not beer”, screamed a banner at the Lion City Meadery booth. Well, beer it’s definitely not but mead is still an alcoholic beverage that is basically made from fermented honey, yeast and water. Two local mead-loving lads decided to start their own craft mead brewery and now has three flavors available – Classic, Spiced and Hibiscus Blueberry. Visit www.lioncitymeadery.com for the outlets where you can find their mead.

Gin & Sour Beer from Norway

A Norwegian gin that really took our breathe away was the Harahorn Pink Gin which looks more orangey than pink. At 38% ABV, it has robust citrus aromas and floral undernotes. Its taste is wonderfully smooth with a slightly bitter aftertaste. We also got to try a fascinating Norwegian sour beer-which I forgot to ask how to pronounce its name-that is yet to be in the market. And oh, the booth used really lovely glasses for tasting. www.detnorskebrenneri.no/www.nordicbev.com)

Luxury Chocolate Wine from England

Made in England, Rubis Chocolate Wine (www.rubiswine.com) is exactly what you expect it would taste like – a rich tasting fine red wine blended with premium chocolate. Good enough to drink on its own or over ice, you can also make cocktails with it (just add Schweppes tonic water, for example). It can also be used for tiramisu, or added to ice cream and coffee. Currently available at The Rubis Kiosk @ Raffles City Shopping Centre B1.

Ending the Day with Coffee & Ice-Cream

My media session ended at two live demonstrations. First, it was to be served a yummy cappuccino by a robotic barista from homegrown company Crown Coffee Robotics (www.crowncoffee.co). Think of it as a sophisticated coffee vending machine where you can actually see the coffee being made. Then it was off to the live demo of the artisanal made-in-Singapore vegan, plant-based ice cream by Smoocht (www.smoocht.com). I tried their durian flavor which was served on the smallest wafer cone I’ve ever seen. And yes, it was good and flavorful. Just wished the sample was bigger…

The event was certainly interesting and Musings on the M49 was glad to have some spare time to check out other booths (especially those hawking local and foreign beers.) Here’s to the next SFFA and RPB Asia!

The next Speciality & Fine Food Asia and Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia trade show will take place from 29 Sept – 1 Oct 2020. To register as a participant or visitor, visit www.speciality-asia.com and www.rpb-asia.com.

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Rooftop Bar @ 1919 Waterboat House

A pal and I have always wanted to dine at 1919 Waterboat House but when the time came, we decided to check out its rooftop bar first. Considering the hot/wet and humid weather Singapore been having of late, it was rather brave of us to attempt The Rooftop even for a Friday evening. But praise be to God as not only there was no rain, there were cool breezes aplenty although that didn’t quite stop the sweat from flowing. Also, the panoramic views at the bar – which spread from Marina Bay Sands to the Esplanade, from the Padang to Fullerton Hotel – made it worth the visit.

So it was good that there was nice chilled beer available (albeit there’s only three choices and you have to drink fast before it gets warm depending on the time you are there.) The Rooftop has a simple drinks menu comprising mainly of cocktails ($16), mojitos ($16-$18), twin shooters ($17/pair), champagne ($26/glass), wine and spirits ($16/glass). There’s also a separate wine menu. There’s also a cool 1-for-1 Sunset Happy Hour before 8pm, and for everyday, it’s 1-for-1 half pint beers for $12. So we started off with their main draught beer, Hofbrau Lager, which is a golden hued German Helles type beer that was light, hoppy and went very well with the food we ordered later.

The 1919 Rooftop Bar has a decent food menu and that was why we decide to check it out first rather than its main restaurant on the second level of the colonial heritage building. Items include Spanish Tapas ($8-$22), personal-sized pizzas ($18) and sharing platters ($38-$58).

A little problem was that, though the place is spacious, the tables are rather small and when the food came, they came in very big plates even for the tapas. Also, my clinical lab rat of a friend was rather miffed when the cutlery served was not up to par-there was a dirty spot on a plate, and a veggie thingie stuck to a fork. Thankfully, other that that, the serving staff was attentive in other ways and the evening went swimmingly.

First to arrive was the Truffle Fries ($10) served with truffle mayo which was a great treat. And if they could serve it in a small basket, it will save much space on the table.

Okay, we ordered a Chef’s Salad ($11) for the healthy bit but seriously, if you are going to have a drinking session, forego this as it just doesn’t go with the grog. The salad, akin to a Caesar, is decent actually (although with an over dosage of dressing) but no go as a pub grub.

With beer, you can’t go wrong with meat items and these spicy buffalo wings marinated with secret spice ($12 half dozen/$22) are da bomb. Juicy and spicy hot, it certainly made up for the soggy salad!

Crispy calamari ($14) should be another great grog grub but we suspected that the serving staff forgotten about it ‘cos it took a while to arrive and by the time it did, the items were cold. Add to that, the strips of squid were so miserably skinny, that all we ate were just batter, crispy as some may be. Pity as it looks good visually but we had to leave most of the dish aside.

Prior to 8pm, we went for our second round of Happy Hour half pint beer and this time we went for the Hofbrau Hefeweizen which is darker gold in hue and richer in taste. It is also more fruity and malty in flavor and a good way to end our evening.

Actually, we ended our evening by playing tourist and taking photos on all sides of the bar. Before Happy Hour ends, you can catch a beautiful sunset over Anderson Bridge at about 7.15pm.

When the manager saw us clicking away, he sweetly pointed us to the bar’s outer area where we could get better shots of landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands (without its laser show sadly) over Marina Bay…

… The sparkling Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay over Esplanade Drive…

… Lasers shooting from the Padang (later, we found out that a National Day Parade rehearsal was taking place…)

And last but not least, the majestic Fullerton Hotel that faces the front of the Fullerton Waterboat House and which is well lit after dark.

Overall, the 1919 Rooftop Bar is a nice drinking spot, perfect weather permitting. Bill came up to about $85 for two pax, which is decent for a Friday night session. Would consider coming again and will definitely check out 1919 the restaurant next.

The 1919 Rooftop Bar is 3 Fullerton Road, The Waterboathouse, #03-01, Singapore 049215. Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-12am; Fri & Sat 5pm-2am; closed on Sundays. Advisable to make a reservation first at +65 6538 9038.

Beauty In The Pot @ VivoCity

Another hotpot alternative close to the ‘hood.

To celebrate her name day, my hitting-a-milestone pal opted for a hotpot dinner. As Beauty in the Pot has a new outlet at VivoCity, we decided to give that a try, having enjoyed their first outlet at Centrepoint. Knowing how popular hotpot is in Singapore, I made the table reservation two weeks ahead via phone and was relatively amused when asked what occasion were we celebrating. “Birthday,” I replied without hesitation and didn’t give it much thought thereafter (more on that below).

As the table will only be held for 10 minutes, we arrived rather early for our weekend booking only to be told that we still have to wait till our reserved time. Which was fine as there were seats and free water available. (If you have kids, there’s a playpen for them.) Not to mention that the overly-pink restaurant is also located directly opposite the largest public library in a mall, library@harbourfront.

Beauty in the Pot’s key attractions are of course its signature Beauty Collagen Broth, and that you can have up to four (out of six) soup bases at one go. We decided two soup bases will do and went for the rich, flavorful collagen broth ($15/twin pot) and the Herbal Drunken Chicken Broth ($12/twin pot).

Then it was off to prepare our sauces whilst waiting for our food items to arrive. For my usual red chilli, garlic and spring onion combo, I added a creamy peanut sauce plus a dash of soy sauce which was a really good mix. Another nut-based combo with Thai red chilli and chilli oil wasn’t half bad but didn’t have much kick.

The menu has an extensive meat selection comprising chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and seafood (fish, crab, octopus, etc). On this occasion, we decided to stick to just Sliced U.S. Beef ($19.80/full portion) and Live Drunken Tiger Prawns ($13/half). And have to say, the premium quality of Beauty in the Pot’s food items are still as good as before.

Veggie wise we went with the usual suspects except with a different variety. Instead of plain lettuce, we had Baby Romaine Lettuce ($3.70/half); instead of “big” spinach, we had Baby Chinese Spinach ($3.70/half). Sliced Lotus Shoot ($3.40/half) was as it is…

We also had White and Hon Shimeji ($4.50/half), which on hindsight was unnecessary as there was actually a good helping of these mushrooms, and tofu slices too, in the collagen broth. The crispy and tasty Fried Fish Skin ($5.90/half) though is always good as a snack or appetizer.

A good choice was the Teochew Style Fish Balls ($4.90/half), which were really yummy. The Prawn Dumpling ($7.50/half) though wasn’t as great; the wrapping was very sticky and the taste not as scrumptious as we hoped it would be. No faulting the Silken Tofu ($2/half) though but as mentioned, the collagen broth also contained tofu slices.

Oh, one item that is a must-have is the Fried Beancurd Skin ($5/half), which tastes especially good when dipped into the collagen broth. It can be very filling though, so best to eat it early in the meal rather at the tail end.

We were getting really stuffed when a staff asked if we would like more dishes. It was then we realised we’d forgotten about our drunken prawns which were hidden away in the side trolley. Fret not, said the nice chap, who simply proceeded to peel for us the prawns which was fresh and sweet.

It was when we were having fruits for dessert, that the fun bit came. Just like at Hard Rock Cafe, Beauty in the Pot diners celebrating birthdays get cool perks. Not only you get a cake and balloon, the staff—like these two sweet suds here— would sing “Happy Birthday” to you three times – in English, Mandarin and Cantonese!!

That my very shy friend—seen here heavily filtered with her complimentary cake and balloon—was utterly surprised was an understatement. That it was one of the most funniest moments I’ve ever observed is of no doubt, hahaha!

Lastly, the complimentary Yuzu drink was served at the end and that went really well with our cake [as they have already stopped re-filling our Luo Han Guo / Sour Plum Juice ($3.80/glass) once they cleared the table].

Well, our Beauty in the Pot experience at VivoCity was certainly better than our first one at Centrepoint. Service was certainly better – we were led to our table at the appointed time, items came fast, refilling of the soups and drinks was done without our asking, and every staff member was courteous and attentive. Only one or two still bow at almost 90 degrees but though admirable, it is seriously not required.

I didn’t even have to prompt about the birthday bit – it was noted via the phone reservation and they delivered without the need to double check. Kudos indeed. Also, though it is stated in the reservation that small groups have a 90-minute time limit, at no time were we asked to finish up though we stayed about two hours. (Guess it also depend on how busy the place is.)

The bill was about $140, i.e $70 per person, which was decent considering what we ordered and the quality of the ingredients. Except for the far walk to the restrooms (down the escalator and to the right, due to the structure of the mall – it’s the same for the rooftop Haidilao), it’s definitely good to know there’s another reputable hotpot restaurant near our ‘hood to consider whenever we have steamboat cravings. In fact, Beauty in the Pot has just opened another outlet at The Star Vista, even closer still. Have to check that one out soon!

Beauty in the Pot is at 1 Harbourfront Walk, VivoCity #03-08A, Singapore 098585. Tel: +65 6255 0758. Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am to 3.00am (Last order at 2.15am).

Ash & Elm @ InterContinental SG

Scrumptious European dining at Ash & Elm.

For our latest quarterly dinner date, my church mate who shares the name of an evergreen climbing woody plant and I decided to go for European flair this time. That’s how we ended with Ash & Elm at InterContinental Singapore, which now occupies the space where the former (and rather good) Olive Tree restaurant used to be.

Decor was chic and elegant, and though the tables for two were small, the space however was comfy. After the waitress presented us with the menus, a waiter popped over to run us through the very extensive wine list comprising reds, whites, sparkling, champagnes and ports. Ash & Elm boasts three culinary theatres including a charcuterie and cheese room, wood-fired oven and an open charcoal-grill kitchen. The dinner menu thus comprises sections for charcuterie and cheese ($24-$60), wood-fired flatbreads ($22-$28), charcoal grill items ($39-$188) and a host of other meat and seafood items “from the pan” ($22-$69), plus good selections of hors d’oeuvres, salads, soups, sides and desserts.

Thought the restaurant was trying to match the water with the nice cosy chairs!

The first thing we were attracted to was the “non mineral nor sparkling” water they served us – whether warm and cold, it was a lovely blue! When asked, our server told us that the color comes from the butterfly pea flower which is said to have loads of antioxidants and health benefits for the body. Apparently the hotel was taking part in Singapore International Water Week 2019 and offering a healthy alternative for serving water was one of their contributions. Well, that’s rather ingenious I must say!

Super cool bread basket.

We thought of trying one of their hand-crafted, sourdough-based flatbreads but was quickly told that for every table, a bread basket will be provided. And what a great basket it was, there were five different types of yummy bread—the chewy mini-baguette was my fave—with portions enough for two, served with salted and seaweed butter. (So good I actually contemplate coming on my own next time and maybe just have a small charcuterie and cheese platter along with this bread basket!)

A carnivore’s delight: the Ash & Elm Platter.

Except that even a regular charcuterie and cheese platter is way too much for one person (unless you really, really enjoy chewing lots and lots of meat!) We had a regular sized Ash & Elm Platter ($28/$48 for large) which comprises house-cured beef pastrami, house-smoked pork loin, air-dried pork belly, cold-roasted beef and pressé de foie gras with smoked duck. Every item was delicious in its own way but the platter was seriously big enough for a party of four. Went very well with the wonderful bread though and I kinda regretted not ordering a red wine to go with all these great red meat.

Love it when chefs put effort to make a dish look pretty.

Knowing the platter will have a lot of beef and pork—plus the fact that most of really nice sounding meat items (especially the steaks) were a tad expensive—we went for chicken for our second dish. The French free-range yellow chicken breast a la basquaise ($34) was alright — tasty but nothing out of the extraordinary. Top marks though go to its presentation and the delicious Basmati pilaf rice and sweet cherry tomatoes.

Seasonal Vegetables Persillade

For our “healthy” bit, we opted for a side of Seasonal Vegetables Persillade ($10) which is really “side dish” sized (read: not meant for a vegetarian meal). Still, it had a good mix of veggies including sweet corn, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, and long bean. Other choices for sides include homemade ratatouille ($10) and sauteed mushrooms ($10).

All in all, we really had an enjoyable time at Ash & Elm, definitely one of our most satisfying dinners. As we decided we needed a walk and will have coffee and dessert elsewhere, the total came up to about $85 which is decent for what we ordered. Will definitely come back again to try other items, especially the other charcuterie and cheese platters — and to enjoy that bread basket again!

Ash & Elm is at Level 1, InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, S(188966). Breakfast: 6-10.30am daily; Lunch: 12pm-3pm (Mon to Sat); Sunday Champagne Brunch 12pm-3pm (Sundays); Dinner: 6-10.30pm daily.

Tasmania’s Finest @ SKIRT at W SG

Tasmania’s finest produce will be showcased in a seasonal menu takeover at
SKIRT @ W Singapore from now till 21 April.

Besides lush World heritage wilderness and stunning coastlines, Tasmania is renowned for their fine grub and grog. This ranges from grass-fed beef to quality cheeses, from prized black truffles to award-winning whiskeys.

It was thus with glee that Musings on the M49 accepted an invite to savor some of the Australian island-state’s finest produce at an UnDiscover Tasmania event held at SKIRT @ W Singapore last week. In conjunction with Tourism Tasmania, SKIRT will host an exclusive Tasmania’s Finest seasonal menu takeover from now till 21 April 2019.

Besides food, the event also showcased a range of Tasmania’s finest wines, whiskey, champagnes, gin and beer. I started with a Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2016, a medium-bodied red wine, with notes of berries and spice. It complimented the slice of goat cheese cake I had very well!

Next, I tried the Elderflower Gin and Tonic, comprising Van Diemen’s Gin from Lawrenny Estate (located in Tasmania’s Central Highlands) and Ashbolt Elderflower Concentrate. It was light, breezy and refreshing, just apt for the blazing hot weather we’ve been having of late!

First on the list of the Tasmania’s Finest Grazing Menu is Lentara Groves Olives. Lentara Grove is one of the oldest olive groves in Tasmania and produces quality products such as extra virgin olive oil.

Next up was the Cape Grim Beef Tartar. Located along north-western Tasmania, Cape Grim reportedly has the cleanest air in the world. Not sure how much it affects the cattle raised there but this beef tartar was tender and its taste enhanced by the well-made crispy egg yolk.

Spring Bay, located on the eastern coast of Tasmania, is famous for its fresh seafood and this Spring Bay Mussels Pot was simply the bomb! Stewed in a tomato broth, the mussels were small but oh so tender and juicy. Easily one of the best dishes of the night!

I popped the next item, the TAS-SAFF Saffron Arancini with truffle aioli, into my mouth before taking a decent picture of it. So all I could tell you is that it was really good – crunchy and flavorful, just like this lovely foccacia bread which, alas, is not on the grazing menu.

Halfway through I decided it was time for a Tasmanian beer. Moo Brew Pilsner is styled like a German Pilsner, with a good mix of hops and malts, fruity aroma and a slight bitter aftertaste. Light and refreshing, went very well with various food. Brand owned by David Walsh, the man behind the famous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art).

Tasmania though is foremost famous for its whiskey. The Apple Isle is Australia’s biggest whiskey producer and Sullivans Cove is among its best brands. Its Single Cask Malt Whiskey was smooth, rich and full-bodied, great on the rocks and even better if you drink it neat.

The grazing menu has two choices for mains. The Cape Grim Shortribs, grilled with smoked garlic and red wine sauce, was meaty yet tender, and tasted better with the brown gravy it came with and even more so if you drink a good whiskey along with it!

The other main, the Petunia Ocean Trout En Croute with wasabi beurre blanc, was a pure delight. The fish was velvety and favorful, and you won’t stop till you finished every bite. The Josef Chromy Sparkling 2011 champagne, which has strong green apple notes (too fruity for my taste), went well with this dish.

The mains also came with sides including juicy grilled baby carrots, tarragon curd, grilled broccolini and gratin potatoes (left) which was really nice.

Last but by no means least, the dessert came in the form of a Golden Gay Time comprising dark chocolate, Dolce De Leche ice cream, honeycomb and nuts, which offered an explosive burst of sweet flavors that was simply heavenly. Everyone agreed that it was a great sweet way to end the evening.

So if you enjoy great food or have always wanted to check out food produce from Tasmania (especially fresh sustainably sourced meats, seafood and other stuff), do check out SKIRT’s Tasmania’s Finest seasonal menu takeover. The special grazing menu, priced at SGD85+++ per person, will be on till 21 April 2019.

SKIRT is at W Singapore, Sentosa Cove 21 Ocean Way, Singapore 98374. Tel: +6568087278. Opening hours: Sat 12pm-3pm; Sun-Thu 6pm-11.30pm (last food order at 9.30pm); Fri, Sat, Eve of Public Holidays & Public Holidays: 6pm-12am (last food order at 10.30pm).

Fat Belly @ Serene Centre

Fat Belly, a wine and steak place, is nestled within ice cream parlor, Sugarhaus.

Last month, after conducting a full day’s media training, I decided to treat myself to a hearty steak dinner. But where should I go for a jolly good one? “Go to the one in an ice cream shop at Serene Centre,” cooed my training partner. Sorry, come again? She wasn’t kidding. Goodness know how many times I’ve eaten at Serene Centre in Farrer Road – ‘cos that’s where our dear friend always dropped me on route to her home – but I never knew there is a steak place called Fat Belly hidden inside Sugarhaus!

Even so, I almost bypassed it again ‘cos Sugarhaus still and always looked totally like an ice cream parlour inside and out. Upon a closer check however, yes you can see a kitchen with a narrow counter behind the ice cream counter with a sign on the wall saying “Fat Belly”. The counter was full that Monday evening but diners are allowed to sit at the Sugarhaus tables.

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato

Fat Belly’s menu is simple. The Charcoal Grill selection has only three items – Angus Flat Iron Steak (USDA 150day Grain Fed, $22); Angus Short Rib Steak (USDA Grain Fed, $25); and Wagyu Marble Score 4-5 Onglet Steak ($38), and each paired with a recommended glass of wine ($12-$15). Add $13 and you can include a side ($5) such as Creamed Kale or Sauteed Thyme Mushroom and a dessert ($12) such as Foie Gras Panna Cotta and Sticky Date Pudding. For dinner, there’s an “Alternative Experience” ($78) which includes items such as a beef steak, beef char siew, mini beef burger and a sweet. I assume the special menu entry was for groups to share as they down wines as the drinks selection is primarily red and white wines (from $9/glass to $90/bottle).

After the waitress confirmed that the steaks come “only with a little asparagus”, I ordered a side of roasted spiced sweet potato ($5) to go with my main course. And though Alamos Malbec 2016 from Argentina ($12/glass) is recommended as a good pairing for the beef item I chose, I opted for a glass of Victoria Park Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($9/glass), a South Australian wine richly flavored with notes of spice and berries.

The absolutely succulent, juicy Angus Flat Iron Steak.

The main course didn’t take long to arrive and though the dish was very simply presented with just gravy and three miserable albeit crunchy sticks of asparagus, the Angus Flat Iron Steak ($22) cooked medium rare was absolutely tender, succulent and oozing with juice. It was arguably the best steak I’ve ever eaten for quite some time! Needless to say, I really took my time to chew and savor each slice as long as I can.

It was certainly a satisfying meal to end a tiring day. The bill came up to $42++ which is decent for a steak-and-wine dinner. Will definitely make a return to try the other items.

Fat Belly is at 10 Jalan Serene, #01-04 Serene Centre (within Sugarhaus), Singapore 258748. For reservations, call 6314 2247.

Komyuniti @ Yotel Singapore

Celebrating Renri @ Komyuniti

When a bunch of my mates from TV days decided to meet for Chinese New Year, we didn’t realized that we had chosen Renri or Yan Yat – the 7th day of the Lunar New Year – to meet. So, auspicious it was when we all gathered to celebrate “everyone’s birthday” at Komyuniti, nestled on the 10th floor of Yotel hotel (next to the swimming pool) in the heart of Orchard Road.

We lo hei with a yu sheng of a different kind!

Slick and modern with a full bar, Komyuniti was also chosen for its central location and the fact that it serves yu sheng. The CNY raw fish dish ($28.80/small) was very unique though as it had many substitutes for the traditional ingredients. For the main salad base, besides carrot and cucumber, there were also purple lettuce, yellow bell pepper, beetroot and spinach. And instead of peanuts and crackers, it was rice krispies and crispy fish skin. There was even sunflower seeds and a yuzu dressing for good measure! You probably could call it an “angmo” version – it definitely had a different taste but overall, along with the thick slices of salmon, it served its purpose of auspiciously kicking off our dinner date. (And belated apologies to the hotel guest diners as we lo hei at the top of our voices when we tossed for good fortune in the Year of the Pig!)

[If you need help with Lo Hei Phrases, check out my blog post “Lo Hei Phrases 101”.]

Sharing Plates Galore

Komyuniti’s food menu comprises a wide selection of appetizers, bar bites, small plates and big plates for sharing, while its drink menu has an extensive range of wines, cocktails, spirits, house craft beers and hot beverages. As there were nine of us, we opted to order a few bar bites and small versions of the big plates to share, whilst the one vegetarian among us ordered his preferred dishes though the waiter did offer to make a Beef Bolognese for him without the beef bits which was nice of them.

The Shoestring Fries with Rosemary Garlic ($9) was the first to arrive, and they were crispy and lovely. The portions are probably meant for 2-3 pax to share so if you have a bigger group, you will need at least two orders. We made do by first limiting each one to 6 fries, before extending it to 12 each…

Next up was the Crab Rillette ($14) which is delicious chill crab “pate” on rice krispies. Very nice even after having to halve each piece so all of us can have a bite.

The Charred Kailan ($10) with caramalised onion puree, fried ginger and garlic chips, was… fascinating. Not sure if the ginger was too overpowering but the kailan took a while to get used to but at the end, it was a nice veggie dish to have.

All the big plates have snack portions. This is the mini version of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($13) served in a sweet potato mash. It was nice and a fancy way of serving chicken nuggets you could say.

The Roasted Pork Belly ($10/snack) was my favorite though. Succulent with crispy skin and served with potatoes, green apple and brussel sprouts, it was a dish which I wished I didn’t have to share! A big plate would be too much for one though.

The snack version of the Pan Seared Snapper ($9) could be a main course on its own really. Meat was tasty and would probably be even better if eaten with rice.

Talking about rice, the mini Teriyaki Rice Bowl ($9) complete with egg could also be a main course on its own. This dish is hard to share, like, what can we do with the egg but to mesh it with the rice? But the chicken was tasty and the Japanese rice chewy and fragrant.

The Slow Roasted Duck Breast ($10/snack) with braised red cabbage and carrot puree was another nice meat dish. But between this and the roasted pork belly, I prefer the latter.

Presentation of all the dishes were great except for this one so much so we thought it was ordered by our vegetarian friend (hee hee). Luckily, the waiter quickly informed us that it’s actually the mini Beef Bolognese ($9) with beef in it. Ah-so! Well, it’s a flavorful pasta and the portion is just nice for a snack.

We also ordered a Waldorf Salad ($11), which was alright except the green apple slices were like, whoa, utterly soaked in balsamic vinegar or something which utterly woke up everyone who ate a slice! Our vegetarian friend ordered a Beetroot Salad ($11) which is seemingly a Waldorf with, er, beetroot. Just realized that the salads are more expensive than the meat snack items. Hmm…

Last but no means least, our friend also ordered a plate of fried Padron Peppers ($9) which were not “hot” but deliciously sweet and yummy.

So stuffed we were we decided to forgo dessert (of which there ar but three items) and coffee/tea. All in all, the bill came up to about $180, which means just $20 per person. Extremely worth it as the food was good and the place has great ambience. Komyuniti is areat place for powwows with friends and associates alike. Will certainly make a return.

Komyuniti is at 366 Orchard Road, Level 10 Yotel Singapore.
Opening hours: 6.30am-12am (Sun-Thu); 6.30am-1am (Fri & Sat)