Having been a loyal fan of the original outlet at Neil Road, I turned to the newer branch at BugisVillage to get a quick dumpling fix.
So to be honest, with regards to ambiance, Jing Hua doesn't quite cut it with it's blank white walls and cheap furniture meant to withstand the anticipated rowdiness of the Chinese dominated crowds. The unfussed decor as if serving to accentuate and highlight the authenticity of the food.
The first dish we had at Jing Hua was a piping hot bowl of Zha Jiang Mian. A saucy mess of meat sauce sprawled over springy noodles and laced by cool shreds of cucumber. This was a yummy dish, best savoured with a spoonful of chili sauce, tossed high till the potent sauce drapes every strand with it's streaks of umami. It was a gentle start. One that eased our stomachs into the barrage of heavier dishes that the Northern Chinese were better known for.
The Xiao Long Bao arrives as delicate parcels of hot soup enrobing sweet morsels of pork mince. In my opinion, these came out a little flat, literally, each dumpling could have benefited from a boost in the volume of soup. However, the delicate pleats received technical bonus points from the hungry diners.
The Pan-fried Dumplings gets nods all around the table. It's crisp base in contrast to it's juicy innards propped up by a well balanced mix of spices, incorporated fats and succulent mince. These were pulled away from the heat all in precise moment that rendered all conditions perfect for these golden pillows.
One cannot set foot out the door of Jing Hua without having their Red Bean Pancake. A classic dish unlike the usual overly crisp renditions that you find so commonly here, these had a queer sort of custardy spongy innards beyond the flecks of toasted white sesame and golden brown crunchy skin. A generous amount of sweet red bean paste smothers the dough before being wrapped up in a tight rectangle package and pan fried till an inch of its life. What emerges is a alluring goddess that punishes the greedy with a tongue scorching forfeiture from it's piping hot innards. Still,.. utterly delicious.
The story I tell people is that the only place where I've had a decent reuben sandwich here in Singapore is at Nassim Hill. Truth is, I've only had one locally, this one, and my heart was sold on the subject matter. Period.
My partner relished in the Nassim Hill Double Decker burger ($21), one that sought special attention with a gargantuan poster beckoning from the walls but mellowed in size in reality. With a swish of house made special sauce, 2 beef patties with grilled balsamic onions, lettuce and tomatoes squished between two lightly toasted buns; this was a lukewarm attempt at a burger. Save for the bread, the entire affair was at best, homely - pedestrian.
My Hot Reuben ($18) on the other hand, satisfied all of my wildest dreams. Corned beef made even sexier with a draping of melted emmental cheese, sauerkraut galore, onions and creamy Russian dressing on the signature Asahi Kuronama beef bread. I attacked the sandwich with a vengeance so hard, unhindered by lingering negative thoughts of carbohydrate control. We'll leave that to some other day, the beer bread is just too hard to pass up. *cheeky grin*
On a side note, check out their happy hour deal which run from 8am-8pm daily. Don't say I didn't let you in on this!
Hakata Ikkousha basically takes the heritage of Tonkotsu Ramen and combines it with the happiness that its' ramen is to bestow onto people. Chef Kousuke, after holding the reigns for Singapore's Ultimate Ramen Champion for two years has gone on to open his second Singapore-based restaurant in CHIJMES.
It's menu is easy to comprehend with range of variations that allows for a bit of personal flair. Feeling a bit flat-lined from work, I opted for the straightforward Ajitama Tonkotsu ($14) which is composed of ramen steeped in boiling water and served in a collagen rich pork bone broth and then some razzle dazzle injected in with the lava-centered Ajitama (seasoned egg). It was an undeniably intense dish, that showed the energy and skillfulness of the chef with a great respect of tradition along the lines of Japanese cuisine. The spoonfuls of creamy soup catapulted themselves into my mouth at the slightest encouragement and I appreciated the Chef's easier touch on salt as compared to many other local versions. I did not fancy the noodles however , finding that it's anorexic proportioning did not work well with the full-bodied flavors of the broth.
As much as I fancy the soup, the noodles for me was the weakest player in the team that would probably hinder me from a return visit. That's just me, I'll let you be the judge.
The Farm Boy Burger ($22) at The Beast. 8oz patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle, pimento cheese,
tomato relish, candied bacon and side of paprika dusted fries. Imagine that.
The Pimento cheese, a relish of sorts made from sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnise, pimentos and seasoning was a delight to eat on its own, and better still when slathered onto toasted sesame buns. The patty, however , cried out for a bit more love and attention. Not the best but definitely not the worse. Order their #OutofThisWorld Fried Chicken and Waffles instead and you're guaranteed many future craving-led meetings with your new drug dealer. The Beast.
Resting poolside, FIX cafe exudes an atmosphere that is breezy and relaxed, splicing beachy miami vice casual with inner city city cool. Hidden away in the peaceful enclaves of HomeTeamNS clubhouse is the newest cafe at the tip of the tongues of many Singapore foodies. Beside rousing the interest of the cafe hungry hipster crowds, Fix cafe ups the ante by attaining a halal food certification, increasing it's prospective audience massively.
Here the menu is kept snugly familiar with cafe favourites such as homemade quiche and fish & chips; then things are swayed a little with the novel introduction of naanwiches. To lay it all out, naan is baked in-house and used as a bread replacement in a typical sandwich. Before you decide that such a combination is bit too outlandish for you, hear me out; this works - the fluffy innards of the naan absorbing the defiant runaway juices from the fillings and the charred edges perfect to poke and prod at the runny yoke perched on top. The Beef and Kimchi Naanwich ($10) lends an explosion of flavors from the fillings, the slow cooked beef rendered down a fork tender consistency. Just be mindful to steer clear if you've an aversion towards fatty meats. The Chicken Tikka Naanwich ($10) in my opinion fared better with a the tender chicken slices being the perfect canvas for the melange of Indian spices. The side serving of achar imparting a sour note, helping to neutralise any greasiness. Note that a cup of nachos are served on the side with each naanwich, slightly 'lao-hong' tortilla chips drizzled lightly with melted cheese and chunky salsa. Great for the 'itchy-mouthed' companions or a single famished diner.
Putting that aside, a must try at FIX cafe is definitely its wide array of expertly executed desserts. The Strawberry Pistachio Rose Tart ($7) was my least favourite. A layer of pistachio financier sits above a uniform pate sucre base and all that topped with fresh strawberries, raspberry compote and a quenelle of rose chantilly cream . A tad too dry for my liking, the pistachio financier could have used a boost of flavor (soon to be fixed =) ) and the sable base, in disagreement with the overall parched conditions.
Moving on, we had the Passionfruit, Mango and Coconut chiffon cake ($7) , an addictive amalgamation of light tangy spring flavors with an interesting juxtaposition of Asian tradition flavors contrasted with a sparse artistic modernity. The coconut mousse pulling the weight of the other more acidic flavors in the entremet. Definitely well suited for the al-fresco dining conditions.
The piece de resistance came in the form of a hollow choux pastry capped with crunchy craquelin filled with coffee chantilly, salted caramel and a secret chocolate truffle center. The Butterscotch Arabica Choux ($6) stole my breathe and my heart.
Another heavyweight is the Chocolate Truffle Cake ($7) made using only Cacao Barry's OCOA chocolate taken from the 'Purity from Nature' range that has been created with pure cocoa beans using the Q-Fermentation method. This method basically involves extracting specific ferments on plant leaves and soil to hasten the fermentation process on the cocoa beans thus deriving the most intense and pure flavors. The Cocoa Barry Chocolate truffle cake comprises of sacher cake, OCOA chocolate cremeux, OCOA chocolate mousse and glacage and finally topped with a few shards of salted chocolate sable; a feast for the senses, the rich flavors and textural contrasts cumulating in a smackdown. This may pose a challenge to finish, even with the most serious of chocolate aficionados. Be a doll and share...
Fix cafe is a casual joint that is not to be missed despite it's rather non-descript location. In the grand scheme of things, the variety of dishes here and their near perfect execution makes it a diamond in the rough.
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Lime Tree Cafe
Fundamentally-flawed is Lee Sihan. 26 going on 27, she is a dessert enthusiast,
food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef currently working in Sydney.
Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe
follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen