After our rather unsatisfying meal at Tanuki Raw, we popped by Lady M for some desserts to fill that gap in our stomachs. The funny thing is, I've never really been a fan of Lady M and my previous visit to the now defunct outlet at Marina Square (when it first opened in 2013) wasn't quite memorable.
Spanning 2 levels at Orchard Central, Lady M boasts lots of seating and soaring floor to ceiling glass panels to allow for plenty of natural light. Very comfortable in my humble opinion.
Signature Mille Crêpe - Lady M's signature mille crêpe. There's something rather soothing about chomping down on thin layers of not too soggy crepe filled with light pastry cream that didn't threaten to give me a toothache. Very delicate and rather delicious in my humble opinion.
Chocolate Mille Crêpe - The chocolate variant is apparently only available at Lady M's Orchard Central outlet. And it actually tastes similar to that of the signature, albeit filled with chocolate cream and topped with a chocolate ornament. I'm a little biased towards chocolate so I personally preferred this over the original.
Two crêpes cost us ~ $20, which isn't exactly cheap but still acceptable in my humble opinion, given the location and quality. However service came across as rather inconsistent probably due to the relatively young and inexperienced wait staff on duty that afternoon.
The wife and I were in Orchard Road running some errands on a Saturday late morning and decided to do lunch in the area. A quick search online for Donburi led us to the relatively new Japanese bar & restaurant, Tanuki Raw, started by the same guy who started the relatively successful Standing Sushi Bar, Howard Lo.
Located on the 2nd floor of Orchard Central, Tanuki offers rather closely packed tables amidst an industrial setting. Think cement screed floor, exposed ceiling and halogen lights; not my kind of style. Thankfully there wasn't a crowd when we dropped by.
Bara Chirashi Don - Cubes of reasonably fresh scallop, sea bream, tuna, swordfish, salmon, striped jack salmon roe and tamago served on rice with Tanuki's signature sauce; lacking in bite as the cubes were cut too small while the signature sauce came across as mildly salty with a hint of ginger. Overall a decent bowl of chirashi don but in comparison to that of Hana Hana's, a more expensive (~ $3 more) but less tasty version. In short, if you want value for money chirashi dons, stick with Hana Hana.
Truffle Yakiniku Don - Apparently Tanuki's pièce de résistance and the highly raved about dish (on social media at least), the truffle yakiniku don looked promising at the onset. Black angus short rib slices pan seared till medium that came across as tender with a slight hint of beefiness and topped with a creamy onsen egg. However the truffle soya sauce was way too salty for my liking (had to drink lots of water!) and I only tasted weak, random flashes of truffle oil (no fragrance to speak of). The presence of a rather distinct taste of ginger didn't quite do it for me as well (not a fan of ginger to be honest). All in all, still a decent but rather small serving of yakiniku don.
There is an option to top up $2 for a set lunch which includes a bowl of salad, miso soup and hot tea. The both of us went with this and chalked up a total bill of ~ $40; not too expensive but less than satisfied (ironic that Lady M a few shops down provided that satisfaction instead). Service was okay but I doubt I'll be returning anytime soon.
We had heard much about Hana Hana (an offshoot of the ever popular Teppei @ Tanjong Pagar) but never really fancied joining the queues (and the hype!) just to dine there. But as luck would have it, we were in the Tanjong Pagar area one Saturday late morning when we caught sight of an almost non existent queue just before opening hours and decided to give it a shot.
Located just next to Teppei at a corner of Orchid Hotel along Tanjong Pagar Road (actually they sorta share the premises and staff), Hana Hana is the cheaper sibling to Teppei and serves up a rather limited menu that includes Teppei's signature Bara Chirashi Don. Seating is restricted to counter seats only and you have a view of the chefs preparing your food.
Bara Chirashi Don ($17.60) - The famous Bara chirashi Don. A rather sizable bowl of fresh pieces of salmon, tuna and swordfish mixed in with a light soy sauce on a bed of rice, topped with roe and strips of seawood; certainly not wow or anything near the best chirashi I've eaten but definitely value for money.
Higawari ($17.60) - The higawari or daily special of grilled wagyu was relatively lacklustre in comparison to the don, coming across as a little overcooked but still tender and relatively juicy, doused in a mildly sweet sauce. The wagyu lacked beefiness and I honestly couldn't tell it was wagyu, not from the lack of marbling. Served with a bowl of rice. Decent but not something I would specially order again.
Advertised prices are nett (even though the bill breaks it down to include service charge and GST) and the both of us spent $35.20 on lunch. In my humble opinion, both the quality of ingredients and the taste aren't great so what draws the crowds and the rave reviews? My guess - very reasonable pricing, limited seating and herd/hype mentality.
The Singapore outpost of the famed New York bakery, Clinton Street Baking Co, opened without much fanfare a couple of weeks ago in the heart of town. Having tried the original outlet in New York about a year ago, the wife and I were eager to give the outlet in Singapore a shot.
Occupying a small shophouse unit along Purvis Street and playing neighbours to a boutique hotel and a coffeeshop, Clinton Street Baking Co Singapore can seat ~ 60 people, albeit in a rather cramp seating arrangement (the NY outlet can only take 32 pax). The interior isn't much to shout about honestly, coming across as modern at best. No reservations are accepted but when we got there at about 10am on a Saturday morning, the wait was a very manageable 15 minutes.
Crispy Potato Pancakes - We opted for the house smoked salmon option, which came with caviar and lightly tart and refreshing lemon crème fraîche on the side. Taste wise, the potato pancakes had been on the grill for way too long; charred to a slightly uncomfortable degree of bitterness but otherwise bland. The thin slices of salmon were pretty good though; lightly smokey without coming across as too fishy. We gave up on the potato pancakes halfway through.
Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter - There is a choice of wild blueberries, banana walnut or chocolate chunk for your pancakes and we went with the banana walnut since we tried the blueberry variant in New York. Bits of banana and walnut wedged between fluffy pancakes and finished with more walnuts and banana atop. Very good. However, instead of being dusted with icing sugar, granulated sugar was used instead, which gave the whole dish a rather unpolished feel in my humble opinion. The coarseness of the sugar really didn't help with the texture either. But......... the pièce de résistance was definitely the warm maple butter (not so warm actually); smooth with the creamy saltiness of butter and the pleasant sweetness of maple syrup.
So how does it compare to the original? In my humble opinion, very close. The pancakes could do with a little more crustiness on the surface. Still #2 on my pancake list after Pancakes On The Rocks in Sydney.
Sugar Cured Bacon - I enjoyed this sinful side of sugar cured bacon but it did seem a little drier as compared to the one in NY. Delectable nonetheless; lightly sweet while retaining the mild saltiness of the bacon. I would envision bacon bak kwa to be of a similar taste and texture?
Prices at the Singapore branch are similar to those in NY (after factoring in forex) and both of us spent close to $52 for brunch, which is still reasonable in my humble opinion. I'll definitely be back for the pancakes and bacon, nothing else! Oh wait, maybe to try out the signature waffle with chicken (only available for lunch) as well.
A colleague had recommended Montana Brew Bar (MBB for short) so the wife and I made a trip down after work one evening to give it a shot.
MBB occupies a small space on the first floor of PoMo and plays neighbour to an outlet of Ya Kun Kaya Toast. MBB attempts to distinguish itself by utilising earthy colours in its design and through the placement of warm lights. Seating is rather limited with space for approximately 20 pax or so. How the place works is you place your order and make payment at the counter and the food will be served to you. One small gripe I had was that I couldn't order everything at once and request for dessert to be served later; not particularly flexible in my humble opinion.
Southern Fried Chicken Waffle - This dish inevitably brought about comparisons with The Beast's offering of this classic Southern dish. First up, the chicken. MBB's chicken was a mess of spicy, a tad dry chicken pieces thrown together and topped with spicy mustard coleslaw; clearly in a totally different league from that of The Beast's juicy, flavourful rendition. The waffles were a totally different story altogether though. Whilst The Beast's waffles came across as hard and unpleasantly sourish, MBB's waffles were light and fluffy with a mildly crisp exterior. Maybe both eateries could contemplate working together?
Umami Burger - At $14, this was honestly quite small and came adorned with cheese, mushrooms and bonito flakes. Which was all good because of the various layers of flavour except that the basic beefy taste was a little lacking. I liked the overall flavour but mourned the absence of the beefiness. The bun (apparently it's made from sweet potato) came across as soft and mildly sweet; no great shakes honestly. You have the option of topping up $2 to "upgrade" your fries to truffle fries, which isn't such a great idea in my humble opinion as the quantity of fries is very limited and the fries I had came seriously drenched in truffle oil (where's the QC?) with loads of fragrance but not much of a truffle taste.
Chocolate Banana Waffles - As the waffles were good, we decided to have another waffle for dessert; the chocolate banana waffle. And it came across as decent. The waffle sported the same light, fluffy texture as the one that came with the chicken earlier on except that this was darker in colour and had bits of what seemed like oreo crumbs wedged in random spots within the waffle. No chocolate taste whatsoever. The vanilla bean ice cream was relatively smooth with no discernible ice chips whilst the banana slices could do with more caramelisation. What I found interesting was the Nutella truffle butter that was sprinkled sporadically throughout; in the form of tiny clumps and mildly sweet.
Moral of the story? Stick to the original waffles.
Overall we spent $38 for two waffles and a burger. Not too expensive and overall food quality is still decent. But I would skip the burgers in future and head straight for the waffles.