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So the Singapore Food Festival (SFF) is going on this month, and to join in the festivities, Mandarin Gallery teamed up with selected restaurants to present the Singapore Food Trail! We were invited to the official presentation of this event just last week, where familiar names such as Antoinette, Arteastiq, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, and The Providore have all created specials for you to enjoy from 14 July to 9 August 2017, leading up to Singapore’s 52nd National Day! I’ll go through each and every one of the dishes we got to taste that day, so sit tight!

The Providore

A homage to the cocktail that is often part of the repertoire of many bartenders’ across the globe, The Providore came up with the Singapore Sling Mocktail ($8.50++), so everyone can enjoy the refreshing and fruity notes of this Singapore classic! It was a really humid afternoon (like really surprising, huh?) so this was a good starting point to quench our thirst. We liked the pineapple crisp that gave that extra zest and crunch to the drink!

Antoinette

Fancy some sweets for high-tea? This quintessential Parisian pâtisserie and salon de thé combined the fragrance of Southeast Asia with French finesse, with the Orient ($9++; comes in a regular and mini size). This holy creation consists of a salted egg cremeux with lotus seed mousse, coconut cake, on a salted peanut sesame praline crispy. Think Liu Sha Bao (流沙包; salted egg yolk custard buns), but on delicate French confectionery. Heavenly!

Arteastiq

While better known for being a tea house and an art jamming studio (hence the portmanteau of art and tea), Arteastiq also has a generous brunch selection. For the food trail, they unveiled the Two-Way Lobster ($38++; totally unintended innuendo btw). It features (well) lobsters prepared in two very different styles; Lobster Thermidor (French) and otah-stuffed lobster shell (SIngaporean), served with barley risotto. The result is a burst of flavor (in fact, 2 bursts) which are both savory in their own rights, but are well-balanced with the other.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib

Last stop of the day! At this time we were already S-T-U-F-F-E-D. But who could say no to…

Chilli Crab Pasta($38++)! Lawry’s The Prime Rib is not only well-known for its steaks and roasts, also has a fresh seafood collection. With chilli crab ubiquitous to Singapore cuisine, from hawker centres to fine-dining restaurants, this steak house decided to have a go at it! On top of the chilli crab pasta, which is generously prepared with shreds of fresh crab, is yet another crab, albeit a soft shell one. But that’s not all, Lawry’s also came up with a refreshing Red Jubilee ($5.20++), a festive creation that calls for a celebration!

Psst. the chilli crab pasta will only be available for lunch in July, but will be available all day in August. Take note!

Win Some Good Food (Giveaway)!

Did I get your attention with all these wonderful dishes on the food trail? Now YOU can stand a chance to win dining vouchers worth $100 from each of the above restaurants, simply by following Mandarin Gallery on Instagram (@mandaringallery) and Facebook (facebook.com/mandaringallery), and leaving a comment (you need to tag 3 friends on Instagram) telling them which dish you would like to try the most and why! (See posts below). Good Luck!

More Information

Mandarin Gallery: Facebook | Instagram | Website

Antionette: Facebook | Website

Arteastiq: Facebook | Instagram | Website

Lawry’s The Prime Rib: Facebook | Instagram | Website

The Providore: Facebook | Instagram | Website


This post is brought to you by Mandarin Gallery presents Singapore Food Trail. Picture credits to Mandarin Gallery, the participating restaurants, and Kyla Tan (give her a follow @_kylatan too yea!).

Young hawkers have, at least for the last few years, became the mark of innovation in what is already one in SIngapore (food hawker culture). With a new enterprising approach to a bold career path that many generations of Singaporeans have taken, they seek to stir the pot and (definitely will) bring about new flavours. I will of course from time to time, #supportlocal and regularly feature these brave vanguards of food culture.

Ted’s Kitchen

The good thing about starting off as a food hawker outweighs the perceived lack of prestige; a smaller overhead means flexibility to explore operationally and creatively, and generally mature as a food entrepreneur. Just being opened for less than 2 weeks at the time of visiting, Ted’s kitchen is one such outfit that serves food with gusto. Chef Thad, the young owner, had a wish to serve quality western food at pocket friendly prices after graduating from the prestigious Enderun Colleges. At first thought, being situated in a industrial estate’s local kopitiam may not be the ideal starting point; but it does keep Ted’s life a bit more secure as compared to opening shop in some hipster district in town or *worse* a shopping mall.

Food-wise, Ted’s keeps it simple: get a pasta (just spaghetti for now) with your choice of style, add some meat for just $7! Then, get yourself some nice sides like cheese fries or their signature chicken wings to snack along!

The star of Ted’s is their chicken cutlet: coated with a light batter and deep-fried perfectly, golden brown, to lock in flavours of the chicken thigh, and it was delightfully juicy. At the end, I wolfed the entire cutlet down not having the ‘jelat’ (cloyed for you non-Singlish speakers) as it was not crusted excessively with flour and not overtly salty. The pasta (I got it aglio olio style) was also served al-dente and does not fight for attention with the protein. The serving size is also very generous, which Chef Thad says is a hit with the blue collar workers that have grown a following to his cooking.

For good measure we also got the carbonara pasta with turkey ham to try out. The flavour was wholesome, although the consistency was a wee bit runnier than what you’d usually get at Italian restaurants. To that, Chef Thad says he’s working on perfecting his sauce and we can all expect more from him!

In fact, over the week his business has built up so much, now he has to install a queue system and extended his service hours!


Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
The kopitiam they’re in is indeed quite out of the way (a 7-10 minute stroll from Paya Lebar MRT station) and nondescript so yes, 5 stars to that.

Price:
$7 does give you more than enough to fill your tummy! Don’t let the size of the plate fool you, it’s a trap!

Quality:
As the chef fine-tunes and expands his already “solid” recipes, his existing menu like the cutlets won’t let you down (please get it)!

Overall:
A new entrant to the unique western food hawker culture in Singapore, Ted’s is doing something right here, and it can only get better. I was already bugged to return for more, which I definitely will!

More Information
Ted’s Kitchen
30 Eunos Road 5
Singapore 400030
Operating hours (it varies so read here)
CLOSED ON MONDAYS
Tuesdays & Wednesdays: 11:30am to 3:00pm
Thursdays & Fridays: 11:30am to 8:00pm
Saturdays: 11:30am to 9:00pm
Sundays: 11:30am to 5:00pm
Email (orders in advance available): tedskitchensg@gmail.com
Facebook | Instagram


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I am (hehe) pretty sure most of the cafe-hopping crowd in Singapore would be familiar with I am… Cafe (yes, the name includes the ellipsis) and their signature red letter blocks at the corner of Haji Lane:

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

Living on the better side of the island and don’t want to join the throngs of poor west-siders in queuing for ages? Now you can just stay in paradise!

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)

Just opened on 28 February 2017, I am… Cafe now brings all that burger and fries (with some pizza) goodness right to our doorstep in the East. Situated on the third floor of Our Tampines Hub right next to the HomeTeamNS clubhouse,  where there are already plenty of fun things to do, it takes a little bit of eyeballing but you won’t miss their trademark signage even from level 1.

Interior wise, it does remind you of Haji Lane, and I very much prefer an air-conditioned experience, although it does contain the noise of the hustle and bustle going on (it is a family casual restaurant after all so don’t expect classical music and hush-hush conversations).

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

Likewise, the menu still consists of old favourites such as their side of truffle fries, which is topped off with thick and creamy truffle mayo. Burgers, pizzas, and their fish & chips are also available, along with their signature mocktails (they’re halal certified). Don’t forget their desserts like the RAINBOW CAKE! Call me nitpicky, but while my ‘the boss’ burger is definitely scrumptious, I’d wish for the patty to be at least the same diameter as the buns so that I can pick it up to chomp down on it (hehe) without risking it popping out of the buns mid-bite.

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

Waitrr Pls

One new addition since I last ate at I am… Cafe is the use of a mobile app called “Waitrr“. From browsing the menu, all the way to ordering and paying for your meal, it’s a seamless process that’s quite frankly a well-designed user experience. No more hems and haws when your service staff probes whether you are ready to order, or yelling through to them during busy weekend dinners and hoping he/she read your order right. Just scan the QR code, pass the phone down the table and pick your food and drinks! What’s also good I realised, is that you don’t have to make one person pick up the tab or get service to split your tabs (a horrible experience for large groups, please don’t do this to wait staff…). Just use your own phone(s) to order separately and pay immediately after! EZPZ!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
This is in (what’s becoming) a very popular hangout in Tampines, so it’s not something too out of the way. Also the brand is already a staple in halal Cafes.

Price:
Prices are still pretty fair, nothing out of the ordinary for cafes (I spent about 20 per pax).

Quality:
You probably need to order dessert if you’re really hungry, but portions are not scrimped on here.

Overall: I
Joining the fray with other cafes showing up in Tampines, like one I previously visited, I am… Cafe banks on its already solid reputation in dishing out relatively affordable premium western cuisine that’s halal-certified, right in the heartlands! Surely, a #newbeastfromtheeast!

More Information

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)
51 Tampines Ave 4
#03-04
Our Tampines Hub
Singapore 529684
​Tel: 6295 5509
Email: enquiry@iam.com.sg
Facebook | Instagram | Website


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Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tired of cycling through a list of the same few restaurant-pubs serving the same selection of deep-fried snacks? Or having to travel to far flung places like Changi Village for a change of scenery?

Nickeldime Drafthouse

Nickeldime is not a new player in the growing craft beer scene in Singapore, but they have recently moved to another block,just next door. While the new premises is slightly smaller, it still feels spacious and given that it’s a corner unit, the alfresco area remains just as refreshing!

New interior aside, they still boast a wide range of craft beers on tap (at the last count it was 19!), and an even wider selection of bottles; from old favourites like Stone Brewing, Anderson Valley to newcomers like Tuatara Brewery and Mountain Goat Beers. Craft beer selections can change from season to season so you guys got to find out for yourselves!

Another feature of Nickeldime is their beer-infused cuisine. These novel and hearty eats, handcrafted by their own kitchen with various brew styles, are sure to tantalise your tastebuds!

It was (supposed to be; yeah right) a slow and simple lunch so I got myself the Stout Braised Beef Ragu, and the Stout (again!) Shepherd’s Pie at the side. Paired with a pint of saison on a warm dreary afternoon, it’s the life!

Nickeldime Nickeldime Nickeldime Nickeldime

After that we had more beer-infused goodness from their bar snacks and (more!) beer, like their popular stout (see a trend here?) meatballs, the mini Jalapeño IPA burgers (i.e. sliders) and garlic fries. Their buffalo wings, served with a generous slather of spicy marinade and dressed with blue cheese sauce, is a heavenly match with a refreshing american pale ale (also on tap)! Other dishes recommended here are their signature 510 burger, the pizzas, such as the Salami pizza, and beer-desserts (yes!) such as the beer-infused waffles. May I also mention that their pizzas have really cheesy (hehe) names, such as “I Wanna Hold Your Ham”, “The Fun Guys(mushroom pizza, geddit)” and several others?

Nickeldime

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s a little bit out of the way, but this block of shops are known for being a F&B centre which lots of office workers will visit, so not that much of a hole-in-the-wall factor here.

Price:
I heard their pizzas are a steal at nothing more than $20 for a 11″ pizza, but there was so much 2 guys can eat that day that we didn’t order that. They do have weekday lunch specials (1 for 1) for more value too! For best value, try out their platter sets on their menu!

Quality:
Each of their dishes is well thought out and balanced in taste, even though they are largely beer-infused and meant to be washed down with copious amount of beer. Speaking which, beers on tap are fresh, which is imperative for any place selling decent beer.

Overall:
While it may not be the most convenient place for lunch unless you work in the Novena/Thomson Road area, it is a good getaway in the evenings thereafter where you can enjoy a good pint of craft beer and some really creative food!

More Information

Nickeldime Drafthouse
273 Thomson Road
#01-01
Novena Regency
Singapore 307644

p.s. It’s just the next building from where they were previously located!

Opening Hours
Sun-Thu – 11:00am to 11:00pm
Fri-Sat – 11:00am to 1:00am the following day
Phone: 62560261
Email: enquiries@hiddendoor.com.sg

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To be honest, the first time I heard of PocoLoco I immediately thought of a similar sounding video game I used to play:

PocoLoco

Situated in Ang Mo Kio, it wouldn’t naturally be the first on my list to go to as I live in the east (#eastsidebestside). As the SO had to work late on Valentine’s, I had to look for something in the vicinity that was still available for a comfortable meal that late (past 8PM). A quick search on Chope and there was PocoLoco, first on the list (I swear).

Being the only Italian place that I know of located in a HDB shop unit, PocoLoco puts the heart in heartlands by serving quality and affordable Italian food where “it is not necessary to dress up; your spaghetti, tagliatelle and maccheroni are served in a nice, informal environment where you feel immediately at ease” (from their website).

PocoLocoPocoLocoPocoLocoPocoLocoThe restaurant itself has a industrial and rather minimalistic finish, which is also prevalent in the linear kitchen design (given that space is a luxury in these shop units). The design helps both kitchen and service staff run like clockwork, as dishes get pushed out efficiently to hungry diners on a (from what I was told is a long, busy) weeknight.

For antipasto, we started out with some burrata cheese with parma ham (they had it on their daily special menu), and was presented with a generous dollop of cheese. Although at $16 I’d like a little more generosity with the ham, it was nothing out of the ordinary, being a staple dish in Italian cuisine.

PocoLoco

Main courses came right after, as we didn’t want any primo like soups: A porcini mushroom risotto for myself and zafferano (saffron) pasta with seafood for her. Portions were just about right (some people, including myself, sometimes tend to equate value with volume of food on the plate) and both rice and pasta were also cooked al dente (a little bit on the firmer side for those who are particular).

For my risotto, the starchiness of the rice blended well with the distinct nutty taste of the porcini mushroom. But IMO there was a tad too much truffle oil drizzled atop, and even after the meal I could still smell the truffle in my own breath.

The pasta was also rather delightful; seafood was fresh, cream was quite balanced with the saffron. All in all what you would expect in a casual Italian diner. Oh did i mention that both main courses did not cost more than $15 each?

PocoLoco PocoLoco

Of course, being Valentine’s and all, we (read: the girlfriend) decided to indulge in some dessert to finish off the night. They’re pretty much known for their tiramisu (served in a cocktail glass), but we decided to get the special menu dessert instead: a matcha lava cake.  Complimentary cute hearts!

PocoLoco PocoLoco

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
I really did not expect such a find in the depths of the heartlands!

Price:
With nothing costing more than $15-16 off the regular menu, and $20 from the special menu that night, it is definitely good value!

Quality:
The kitchen staff move tirelessly to make sure food is served quick and hot. Just a little bit rough on the edges but you can tell the food is made with good care and love! Definitely better than the PastaMania that’s set up just two units away #brightidea

Overall:
Please come here, it’s not difficult for a Changi guy to come here to Ang Mo Kio just for this. Unless you live in Jurong, I’ll think of something else. Oh wait, I already have (read on)!

PocoLoco

More Information

PocoLoco (Ang Mo Kio)
408 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10
#01-779
Singapore 560408
Operating Hours:
12pm – 3pm
6pm – 10pm
Last reservation for the day 5pm
Moblie: +65 8436 3363
Email: enquiry@pocoloco.com.sg
Facebook | Instagram | Website

Menu (there are daily specials that you will need to contact the restaurant about):

https://pocoloco.com.sg/pocoloco-menu/


**Jurong/Choa Chu Kang people, rejoice! You can now enjoy the same thing without crossing the border! They have opened another outlet in Snow City, which also boasts a microbrewery as well!**

PocoLoco (Jurong)
Snow City Level 2
21 Jurong Town Hall Road
Singapore 609433
Operating Hours
12pm – 3pm
6pm – 10pm
Last reservation for the day 5pm
Moblie: +65 8438 3833
Email: jurong@pocoloco.com.sg


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