Cupplets – Clementi (Ngee Ann Polytechnic)

I first discovered Cupplets when my foodie friend in Singapore posted photos of their gorgeous cakes and pastries on Facebook. I quickly looked up their location and realised it was all the way in Ngee Ann Polytechnic some kilometres away from Clementi MRT. Needless to say I never actually thought about travelling all the way there.

So when I realised they were having a pop-up stall in Aperia Mall at Lavender (12 Kallang, Atrium, Level 1, until 27 September), I rushed there after work to pick up some wet paint cookies. The stall closes at 6+pm but I pre-ordered and there was another customer going there at 7pm so they kindly agreed to wait until I finished work and could pick it up. I followed them on Facebook so I know the latest pop-up stores to get their goodies and have contact info to order.

These wet paint cookies are as pretty as a picture, a moreish, firm, sweet and gooey chocolate choc chip cookie (probably a bit too firm for my liking, but I loved how gooey the chocolate was!). The white chocolate frosting was thick and generous, soft enough to meld the cookie crumbs together as you bite in. The dried flower bits on the top and pastel colours complete the decorations.

I really liked these cookies (especially coz they’re so pretty! Yeah I’m a bit of a sucker for pretty stuff… but it tasted great too; I did need to drink some tea to neutralise the sugar though)! They’re now on offer for $3 each (regular price $5), only during the bake sale at Aperia. You can email them at cuppletsco@gmail.com on the quantity and date/time of collection if you want to do pre-orders.

Cupplets
535 Clementi Road, Blk 16, #01-03 Singapore (Ngee Ann Polytechnic)
Closest MRT: Clementi
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11.00am-6.30pm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cupplets?fref=ts
Website: http://www.cupplets.com/

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Clinton Street Baking Company – Bugis, Singapore

I’m not usually one to want to be the first to queue for newly opened food outlets so that I can let the hype (and queues) die down, but Clinton Street Baking Company with its accolades as the best pancakes in NY from New York Magazine (twice) seriously piqued my interest. The secret is to separate the eggs and gently fold in whipped egg whites (if you have the time and mixer, there’s a recipe here). Chef-husband and wife duo Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, opened Clinton Street Baking Company in New York City in 2011 to make the best baked goods in the city, hand-mixed in small batches.

Having brought its splendour to outlets in Dubai and Tokyo, Singapore is the lucky second in Asia. It’s within walking distance to City Hall/Bugis MRT. Having just opened yesterday (without much fanfare either), the queue when I arrived on a Sunday morning at ~10.30pm required a 45 minute wait. Luckily their efficient system allowed us to walk around the nearby Bugis malls before they called us when our table was ready. The menu is pricier than standard cafe fare being a world-famous restaurant.

In classic Southwestern American style, Clinton Street uses buttermilk in many of their dishes, like the pancakes, Southern biscuits, and chicken and waffles. It makes the floured foods taste rich, well-aerated and fluffy.

You can’t go to Clinton St. and not order their Warm Maple Butter Pancakes ($18). They have blueberry, banana walnut and chocolate chunk. I got the blueberry rendition as per the waiter’s recommendation; bouncy, thick and fluffy to the core, yet with a firm and crunchy exterior and specks of blueberry embedded within; with a rich buttery fragrance, I can understand what all the hype was about and devoured it happily.

 I reckon the pancake itself was slightly too sweet for my tastebuds though, especially with the pot of the divine warm maple butter (comfort grub at its finest) and blueberry topping. The maple butter was not really enough for me, and each extra pot is $2 more (I suppose it’s a good thing for my waistline!). The blueberry topping was luscious and chock full of tiny blueberries (I believe they are dried blueberries) with in a rich sauce that soaked through the pancakes to create ultimate blueberry goodness. True to its American style, the portion is very large, and I think that this is too filling to share between two people (if you’re ordering another item to share between the two of you) so it’s probably best to gather a few friends to share.

We also tried a not so popular item Smoked Salmon Scramble ($23). I thought this was relatively average and pricey. The scrambled eggs were generous with the house-smoked salmon, but slightly rubbery and not creamy enough (although there were sparse chunks of the scallion cream cheese). The salmon was cooked with the egg so it was not soft, but the eggs were doused nicely with its salmony oil and chopped chives. The salad was fresh and had a mild vinegary taste (luckily not dressed with oil as the meal was already quite heavy!), and the seven-grain toast was wholesome and crunchy. My partner in crime liked this dish more than the pancakes (although expectedly, as he does not have a sweet tooth at all!), as it was a light reprieve from the richness of the pancakes.

We had a Ginger ale ($5) as it was quite hot sitting at the very front of the shop next to the window (they do have an awning but the morning sun was still shining straight at the shop and it got quite warm). This tasted like a canned drink, not particularly gingery, and nothing to shout home about.

The ambience overall is relatively fast-paced and busy with a lot of hustle and bustle/noise, but comfortable seating. Service was overall quite friendly and efficient (although the waiter wanted to clear my plate when I still had a fair bit of food on it and just stopped for a bit of a rest; I suppose there is a long queue?). Going to the toilet may be a bit of an issue though as there’s only one unisex restroom available.

The unbelievably phenomenal pancakes here gives Singaporean cafes a run for their money. I spotted a cute slogan on the staff’s t-shirt “Made with Love and Butter” very apt. I definitely want to return (probably when the crowds die down 😛 if they ever do…) to try out some of the other brunch items. The eggs benny on Southern biscuits and the crispy potato pancakes look very promising. I’m glad that Singapore seems to be getting quite a lot of worldwide famous restaurants into the ever-changing food scene here (seems more so than Australia too… probably because there are so many homegrown talents in Australia though).

Prices are not inclusive of GST and service charge.

Clinton Street Baking Company 
31 Purvis Street, Singapore 188608
Nearest MRT: Bugis/City Hall
Tel: +65 6684 4845
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clintonstsingapore
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am to 6pm

Seaweed Ebi Burger – McDonald’s Singapore

Disclaimer: I was fed by McDonald’s and Omy Blog who kindly gave me a voucher to try the burger

On a bit of an ebi burger frenzy…

McDonald’s has launched another ebi burger today, the seaweed ebi burger. Here’s my verdict for the one I got at the McDonald’s right opposite AMK Hub:

Just like the Cereal Ebi burger, it comes with a crunchy batter and a succulent patty with a bit more starch and fewer whole prawns than ideal. There was a distinctly sweet and umami seaweed taste on the batter that took me back to the childhood days of the Ginbis animal shaped seaweed biscuits (ahh I loved those..), or Korean seaweed packets, or seaweed shake shake fries. Which unfortunately they don’t have 😦 The bun was soft like a typical Maccas bun but with a nice sprinkling of powdery corndust flakes. The sauce is similar to the Cereal Ebi burger’s sweet and spicy shrimp mayo; but instead, with a mentaiko flavour; this Seaweed Ebi burger has more of a Japanese influence than the Cereal Ebi which was undoubtedly more of a Singaporean twist.

The Seaweed Ebi Special (the ebi burger, medium sweet potato fries, and a small Coca-Cola) is available at McDonald’s Singapore from $7.45 from 17 September until 1 October. To healthify your meal slightly (and kudos to you if you can really resist those addictive sweet potato fries), opt to swap the fries for a corn cup (no extra charge), or a garden side salad of whole leaf lettuce, red and white cabbage, crunchy carrots, corn, tomato and a Japanese dressing (top-up $1.20).

Group Therapy Cafe – Katong

On a weekend brunch, the cafe was full-house which is strange considering its whoop whoop location. Expect queues on weekend brunch peak period as they don’t take reservations. The ambience of this cafe is a bit dark and dingy in appearance, being inside a mall without outdoor sunlight, but it’s cosy and comfortable nevertheless.

My friend got the Skinny Latte ($5) which, as a coffee connoisseur, said was good; and me being a chai snob, got the Chai latte ($5.50) which I thought was really well done for Singaporean standards. No syrup in sight, it was made with the real spice. It was strong, full-bodied, milky and a substantial foam top too.

Buttermilk pancakes ($12.50) were thick and fluffy, but in my opinion not enough of a buttermilk taste. It’s a very generous serve though 🙂 The honeycomb crumbs and fruits lent a sour/crunchy contrast, and they by default serve syrup on the side which is always a plus.

Pumpkin pancake ($18.00) – doesn’t look super appetising, but by golly it was outstanding! Hints of fresh pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice ( cinnamon, nutmeg and clove) in a soft pancake with smoked salmon that was tender and easy on the sodium, two soft poached eggs topped with a very thick and rich serving of Hollaindaise sauce. We ended up scooping most of it away but if you do get it, ask for it on the side (or maybe most Singaporeans like it that way I guess…lots of sauce in food…)! Eggs were done bouncy with a gooey half-cooked yolk.

I thought the food and drinks at Group Therapy were good and understand why all the expat crowds flock here on the weekends!

Prices are nett (no service charge or GST)

They have another branch at Tanjong Pagar.

Group Therapy Coffee, Katong
30 East Coast Road, Katong V, #01-11, Singapore 428751
Nearest MRT: Dakota
Open daily from 9am to 9pm.

Group Therapy Coffee, Duxton
49 Duxton Road, #02-01, Singapore 089513
Nearest MRT: Outram Park/Tanjong Pagar
Tel: +65 +65 6222 2554
Open from 11am to 6pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays and public holidays. Closed on Mondays.

Website: http://www.gtcoffee.com/

GastroSmiths – Bugis

GastroSmiths has been getting rave reviews for its Asian fusion cuisine serving globally inspired hearty food (drawing from Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish etc cuisines). It is a restaurant opened last year as the chef owner, Dillion, had shut down his original 10-seat bakery in Katong to open up this 20+ seater bistro at Marrison Hotel in Bugis. It’s an unassuming hole-in-the-wall place that you wouldn’t expect to serve such good food, but it definitely impressed. Although it was small with sparse decorations, it was thoughtful with adequate space between each table and the ones we were at even had extra chairs by the side (under the bench) to put our bags.

Our starter was the Scallop Ceviche ($14.50++), with Hokkaido scallop sashimi garnished with cute radish discs. It was simple yet the delightfully fresh and plump scallop paired so well with the sweet orange morsels, tang of the yuzu/olive oil sauce and koji (steamed rice with koji mould spores cultivated in; a crucial ingredient for sake) accentuated the umami taste of the scallop.

Their signature is the Hokubee Ribeye Bowl ($28.00++) with 200g grilled hokubee ribeye, Japanese rice generously seasoned with furikake and sweet vinegar, and an ultra soft sous-vide 63 degree egg (resembling the super squishy eggs served with kaya toast). Hokubee (or meltique) is a non-premium beef cut injected with canola oil/beef fat with starch to mimic the marbling of Wagyu. Hokubee definitely is no match for real wagyu, but it is tender enough to feel like it’s melting in your mouth. It had a good char encasing the perfect shade of medium pink.

I was a bit disappointed when I realised they no longer have the famed Fried Cod Mee Sua, but I was in for something better: Fisherman’s mee sua ($25.50++) is a seafood medley with homemade scampi bisque (with hints of satay?) and mee sua. Velvety mee sua absorbed full of the seafood bisque without becoming soggy, it took in the flavours much more than pasta would. Plump juicy seared scallops, chunks of juicy crabmeat, and fresh crisp prawns, all mixed in a gloriously rich and intoxicating bisque that was absorbed into the mee sua. A shower of coriander, lashings of spring onion, grilled cherry tomatoes, and a hint of chilli padi (optional; the waiter kindly asked whether we wanted it and it was an affirmative from Mr Chilli) all completed the scene for a very enjoyable dish (the only qualm was it’s a tad salty).

I couldn’t resist but order this gorgeous palette of magenta hues, Beet & Cheese ($14++). Patterned on the plate is the beetroot gel (which was more like beetroot puree; and it is quite strong in beetroot!), rustic beetroot sponge (yes those cute sponge-looking balls are actually beetroot flavoured), and two small cheese parfait mounds (which has a nice sticky cream cheesey quality similar to other deconstructed cheesecakes out there) dipped in a shiny beetroot fluid gel; with good-quality vanilla ice cream and crispy cookie crumbs. The beetroot taste is quite overwhelming (especially the sour pickled sliced beetroot at the centre!), but paired with the different components, it was a refreshing change to the usual berry compotes found elsewhere. I loved the luscious cheese parfait and wish they had given a bigger portion!

The menu has evolved and the website reports it will continue to do so as inspired by seasonal produce/latest trends. So your tastebuds will be constantly tantalised with new things and this surely was the case for me.

Service was warm, cosy and attentive. If you’re into interesting gastronomic experiences at reasonable prices, GastroSmiths is one of the favourites I’ve discovered.
Prices above not inclusive of GST and service charge.

GastroSmiths
103 Beach Road #01-02 Singapore 189704
Nearest MRT: Bugis, near Tan Quee Lan Street
Tel: +65 9772 9511
https://www.facebook.com/gastrosmiths
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 6:00pm – 9:30pm (Tues – Sat), 11am – 3pm (Sun)

New Ebi Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and Honeydew McFlurry from McDonald’s Singapore

Disclaimer: The first part of the post was an invited media tasting

McDonalds - Cereal Ebi

Credit: McDonald’s Singapore

If you love the Ebi Burger from McDonald’s, look out for the new Cereal Ebi Burger and accompanying sides from 3 September 2015, for a limited time only. Omy Blog kindly invited me for a special launch event of the new McDonald’s Ebi Burger. Ebi is prawn in japanese, and I wanted to see what would be coming up before the rest of Singapore, so treated myself to the rare McDonald’s indulgence. Yeah it’s not the healthiest meal ever, but I haven’t had Macca’s for a few months, and I do enjoy their Asian-themed burgers that I don’t get in Aus… So I brought myself to the AMK Park Macca’s (which reminds me of the stand-alone Macca’s restaurants in Australia; it’s one of the rare ones I see in Singapore with a drive-thru). Sorry for the poor quality photos; I’ve been moving house (or room, rather) and my organisation is a bit messed up so I forgot to charge my camera battery and had to resort to the iPhone in horrible night lighting.

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The new Ebi burger trumps the one I tried last year. For reference, the one last year was a wasabi flavoured sauce with a carrot/cabbage mix which felt almost like coleslaw. This year’s Cereal Ebi Burger (à la carte from S$5.35) has a crunchy cereal bun topped with chives and roasted white sesame (it’s a soft white bun with a sprinkling of cereals on top, not multigrain unfortunately…). It has the same whole crisp small prawn patty as last year, with a cereal coated batter and a mild potato flavour which gave the patty a pleasant mealiness. Sandwiched between the butter lettuce leaf lies a shrimp flavour mayo paste with a spicy lingering heat (some of the ingredients include onion, garlic and chilli padi). The sauce made the burger quite moreish with just the right level of spiciness, combining the different Singaporean-esque flavours; but the spiciness level may not be enough for many Singaporeans, it is certainly nowhere as hot as McSpicy.

The crispy sweet potato fries (à la carte from $3.25) are coated with an ever so thin, crispy and light batter and they were so darn good! I love sweet potato fries anyway, but these ones were really addictive; the batter made the fries crispy for a long time, unlike other sweet potato fries which become soggy. I adored the sweet and salty interplay of flvaours. They should really make these a regular, just like the yummy twister and shake shake fries; or maybe not because then I would be patronising McDonald’s too much haha.

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The Honeydew McFlurry ($2.90) had a strong and pleasant honeydew taste, similar to the honeydew vitasoy flavour. It is flavoured with a sweet honeydew powder, but it is mixed in thoroughly and not in green strands / chendol like the picture seems to suggest (there was a small lump of powder that was not mixed well into the ice cream, but otherwise it was totally smooth). For textural contrast, there were crushed cones on the iconic soft serve. While I enjoyed the dessert, it was too cloyingly sweet for me; if I were to get it again, I would request for less honeydew powder. It would also taste better if there were fresh honeydew chunks in the McFlurry (a bit of wishful thinking since I’ve never seen Macca’s offer fresh fruit in their ice creams before!).

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We also got to try the chill drinks: Ribena Chill ($1.95) and Mango Peach Chill ($2.45) (basically slurpees with Ribena or a mango peach sjora style syrup; the Ribena being a bit sweeter) that were refreshing albeit a bit of an overload of sugar.

The ‘Ebi-Kase’ special set meal includes a Cereal Ebi Burger, a glass of coca cola (small) and crispy sweet potato fries (medium), available for $7.45. To healthify your meal slightly (and kudos to you if you can really resist those addictive sweet potato fries), opt to swap the fries for a corn cup (no extra charge), or a garden side salad of whole leaf lettuce, red and white cabbage, crunchy carrots, corn, tomato and a Japanese dressing (top-up $1.20).

Thank you Omy Blog and McDonald’s for the invited tasting.

McDonald’s
10 Ang Mo Kio Street 12, Singapore 567740
Tel: 6451 3365
Opening hours: Daily, 24 Hours
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcdsg

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Reprise for my second Ebi Burger at Hougang Avenue 8 McDonald’s (anonymous identity) on 11 September 2015

So the first post had really lousy photos and I also wanted a quick lunch so with my trusty Canon G7X in hand, I went to the neighbourhood McDonald’s for comparison.

The prawn patty tasted a bit different this time, it seemed there were less whole prawns and more of the starchy/fish paste filler instead. A bit disappointing, but I suppose it makes sense that they’d make the invited event more impressive than the real thing. The sauce was still nice though, and the batter still with a nice cereal crunch.

When I went into the Maccas store, I could tell the sweet potato fries were sitting there for quite a while as it was about the end of the stash. Not wanting to wait until they cook the new batch, I asked if I could have a non-salted sweet potato fries (because this trick works for the regular potato fries: if you ask for the non-salted one, they always make it fresh and hot for you and it tastes so so much better than mushy fries minus the sodium overload). Unfortunately, this trick did not work as the server insisted that there is no salt added to the fries. I didn’t dare ask for a newly fried sweet potato fries though, which was unfortunate because I did not enjoy the stale sweet potato fries (tasted doughy and not at all crispy). Dipping it into the garlic chilli sauce helped me to get through it. The sweet potato fries also taste good with the ice cream (come on, I know many of you guys would’ve dipped the Maccas french fries into the soft serve as a kid, no?).

This time I was smart and asked for less powder for the honeydew McFlurry. So it was better, less sweet yet with an adequate honeydew flavour punch and the nice cornflake-like crunchies (which remind me of Rice Bubbles in ice cream, one of the simple pleasures I made for myself sometimes in Australia; although I just realised…there’s no Rice Bubbles in Singapore?! Maybe it gets soggy too fast in this humid weather?). It is still very sweet though haha.

And yes, I only just discovered you can lift up the McFlurry like a paddle pop with the spoon. 😛