Nihon Mura is part of the Sakura group of restaurants dominating the buffet lanes in Singapore.
My first impression of the Tampines outlet has since been altered recently in my subsequent visits to this restaurant.
The Cathay outlet is similar to the other outlets in terms of its decor and food offerings but the entire place is almost always packed with people and the queues are quite amazing.
The food has improved a whole lot since i've last been here and the quality of sushi is also a step above the last visit with new $1.99 plates of premium sushi that usually would have cost about $5.99 at a rival restuarant.
The salmon sashimi here is definitely worth a try. I'm not sure why but its very tender, cold and sweet as compared to other places. Including my favorite Wasabi Tei. @ $5.99 for 6 pieces of reasonable size, this place has stolen my heart for salmon sashimi to eat. The rest of the sashimi i've tried are ho hum though. So just go for the salmon sashimi.
All said and done, the new offerings and good salmon sashimi has won me over and i will indeed be returning for more.
Le Grenier a Pain originated from Paris France under the leadership of Michel Galloyer. The bakery has since accumulated multiple accolades before being franchised into Singapore by Ms Ellis Noval in an attempt to bring authentic French pastries into Singapore.
The pastry on sale has taken up a decidedly Singaporean flair with local favorites such as ham, bacon and even chicken curry flavors to appeal to the locals. Within it, you will find fancy named breads and cakes along with a rather high end price tag. In terms of the pastry, i bought about $15 worth of bread with a Chocolate fondant being the more expensive item. Tastewise, its mostly above average with the bread being soft and crusty and the chocolate being of better quality then usual. Cream and custard were both light and airy without impacting its taste. The fondant came across as average because we overbaked it and it turned out to be more chocolate sponge cake then an actual fondant.
Overall score: 6/10
Last word: I love eating bread but i simply am not able to stomach the cost thats levied on them by this bakery. In fact, when i saw how much the bread cost, i was rather shocked that 5 pieces of bread with a chocolate fondant could cause $15. I was also unable to ascertain the reason for the cost through taste but maybe thats just a personal issue of not understanding quality bread when i have one. For me, i'll probably stick with the local brands for now.
It was quite some time ago that i had a go trying out Vientai and the results were less then spectacular.
The food was lacklustre due to a lack of identity.
I had the Vietnam hor fun which came with some fried crisps and beef balls in a dark transparent soup base. It wasn't totally bad since the soup itself was rather thick with taste reminiscent of prawn soup. But its the feeling after the noodles were finished that you feel rather disappointed. After all, paying $10 for a bowl of prawn soup hor fun isn't exactly a value for money event.
The other item we had was something akin to phad thai. Slightly spicy and rank with peanut taste. The prawns were pretty good as is the rice noodles itself. But its still the aftertaste of receiving the bill that really ticks it off.
In the end, if this was a normal coffee shop set up and price. I would have recommended it to no end. But as it stands now, i'd have to say no thanks.
Ubin first stop seafood resides right behind the nefarious open air carpark at Changi Point. If you're in the vicinity to grab a quick bite or have a nice time, be sure to display your parking coupon or prepare to face the consequences. You can, however, park illegally right next to the carpark with no penalties as far as i'm informed but still, do the right thing nonetheless.
The restaurant is built on an elevated platform resembling the old atap houses of the past. The kitchen is surprisingly out in the open facing the open air parking lots. Within, simple flourescent lamps light up the place while plain coffeeshop tables are spread evenly to provide adequate space for movement. Not that movement is much of a problem since my family makes up the bulk of 3 tables taken up that night. Perhaps it was the economic crisis but seriously, this was the second restaurant that felt as though we booked it entirely to ourselves.
Chili Mussels ($10) - The mussels here were really quite big and fresh. No sand or whatsoever in them, just sweet chili sauce and plump soft mussels for consumption.
You Tiao with Fish Paste ($8) - Apart from it being less oily then others i've tasted, its pretty much the same it all other ways.
Sweet and Sour Pork ($12) - They did a good job by really putting this to the fire and their batter came out really crispy and thin. Even after several minutes soaking in the tomato sauce, the pork remained crispy and fragrant.
Hu Nan Chicken/Dry curry chicken ($12) - Every meal needs a low point and this was it. Taste wise, it was interesting. The chicken was crispy and tender much like its sweet and sour pork albeit with a weird curry-like taste to it. So why exactly was it the low point? Remember the mention of the kitchen being in the open? Well, a "UFO" appeared in the dish with our chicken. Its quite cooked but nonetheless, you get the idea. Food cleanliness became suspect pretty much immeadiately after.
Ngor Hiang ($8) - Another low point, the ngor hiang seriously needs improvement, the whitish looking part looks like dust but it isn't. Its more an indication of lack of time to thaw. Tastewise, there's nothing worth mentioning as well.
Sambal Kang Kong ($6) - Probably one of the better items that night, the sambal kang kong was spicy, sweet and fragrant with the usage of lard in its cooking process.
HK Style Red Snapper ($42) - This fish took the limelight being the item of the day. The flesh remains springy and taut despite being fried and the HK soy sauce it arrived in further complements its sweetness. However, it is quite a humble size despite is $42 price tag.
Kung Pow Prawns ($20) - The prawns were hit and miss. Its a hit in the quality of the prawn itself, being big and oh so crunchy. Its a miss in the fact that its done Kung Pow style which made it spicy and sweet. With prawns as good as this, just steam them and enjoy the natural taste it has, no additional sauce needed.
Scallops with brocoli/asparagus($20) - Ok, i know this isn't brocolli so its probably asparagus but i'm not too sure if its the right word. In regards to taste, the scallops alone were undeniably good with its springy and sweet natural taste.
Bamboo Clams ($48) - This is my first taste of bamboo clams and i have to say....it tastes weird. Its like a mix between mussels and snails in that its a little slimy tasting with some....pungent smelling part in its 2 ends. The mid section is more tolerable and very sweet but i can't get over how much it resembles a certain part of the human anatomy. Needless to say, the price it costs for one didn't help. This is the first, and last time i'll have the exotic item. Thank you very much.
Fried Mee Sua ($12) - Another item that took me by surprise, this mee sua is extremely well done. Simple as it may be, its very fragrant and light such that we managed to finish it even after everything else that preceded it. In fact, we ordered another poriton for take away.
Complimentary Dessert - The dessert is simple almond with longan but it gets the job done.
The bill gave me quite a shock at its price of $235.14. Apparently, the culprits were the fish, prawns, scallops and the bamboo clams.
Ambience: 3/10 Service: 6/10 Food: 6.5/10 Value for money: 6/10 Overall score: 6/10 (not an average)
Last word: Actually, i found quite a few items here really worth ordering, like the mee sua, fish and the sweet and sour pork. However, its difficult to enjoy when you're constantly picking through the food to see if "UFO's" have been added to your meal. Also, i found the pricing for the clams ridiculous. Maybe i don't know how to appreciate it but $12 a piece? Ouch. A return is most definitely not in the cards for this one.
Heard about this little hideout in Bukit Timah quite some time ago and finally paid it a visit to verify if its beef burger lives up to the recommendations i've heard about it. It's rather along the west end of Singapore so i had to drive around and got lost a couple of times before i found it but i'm truly glad i did.
The location is nothing to shout about, after all, it resides in a corner coffeeshop location and shares the space with an Indian food stall and a bar calling itself Bar Bar Black Sheep. Not that i'm complaining because the place is excellent. Wooden chairs and al fresco tables gave me an impression that i wasn't in Singapore anymore but rather some hang out place in Australia or USA. The Caucasian friends or expatriats who pack the place certainly aided in giving me this impression but i definitely liked the vibe of this place. Simple yet classy.
Hoegarden and Lime Juice - The drinks here are reasonably priced to be sure. Order it direct from Bar Bar Black Sheep or any of the girls going around to take orders and you'll be served your drink in a short span of time. I ordered 1 pint of ice cold Hoegarden and thank the lord, it was an actual pint at discount prices which was as advertised, ice cold too. I couldn't pin the exact cost but its anywhere between $6-9 for a pint and if you compare it to similar joints, you'll see its actually a great deal
Fish and Chips ($8-10) - My gf ordered fish and chips as we were soon served with a huge, 3 piece fish and chips with generous portions of fries. It helps that everything was fried to a nice golden brown and served hot. The fish and chips, though having tender and sweet flesh, had a rather thick batter which didn't sit well with us. Strip away the batter though, and this works pretty well.
Beef Burger ($12-14) - The star of the day, the beef burger has a patty handmade by the restaurant in the day. The meat was finely pounded and padded together for a slightly crumbly yet firm texture. The beef taste is moderate but strong enough for me while the caremelized onions, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes added more bite to the burger. Did i mention the burger was about the size of a BK whooper? I'm definitely coming back for more of this.
Total bill probably set us back by less then $30 for this meal and i find it money well spent.
Ambiance: 8/10 Service: 8/10 Food: 7/10 Value for money: 8/10 Overall Score: 8/10
Last word: I like this place. Its got a rustic and earthly charm to it. And the real draw is how our Caucasian friends or expatriats who frequent this place really gives me the impression i'm not in Singapore. The way this illusion takes away my troubles is quite simply, priceless. Throw in good beer on tap for cheap and a beef burger to give Astons a run for their money and this place has my vote as my favorite ulu bar of the year.