Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Group Therapy Cafe Revisited @ Duxton Hill

It has been ages since I last popped by Group Therapy and another fan of theirs raved about their improved carrot cake recipe which was the main point of this visit - oh, and to say hi to the two lovely ladies! They are still the same warm folks that I met years back when they started out this cafe, hardly an air of haughtiness - I mean seriously, it was a really nice moment to talk over the counter like old friends and getting updates on their lives, as though I visit every other week. Like a long lost friend, we hardly need many meetups but the feeling stays the same - warm and fuzzy.

interior

Perpetually packed. 

relational goods

A quick update about their already frazzled and overworked lives - they have opened another new joint in the East (BIG HOORAY!), specifically at Everitt Road (If anyone remembers the bad neighbour saga from years back) and next to Fei Fei Wanton mee! Called Relational Goods, this new joint serves up coffee and their bakes - think muffins, cakes and  burgers (Weilin got me sold on this!). Still new, they are expected to get things up and completely running only in late April so I am definitely checking it out soon! Opening hours will be 8am-8pm in time to come so bear with their shorter hours for now!

carrot cake

4 Layer Carrot Cake ($8.50)

The main reason for the visit. Definitely a change in recipe, this time they serve it warm instead of chilled. A very light sponge cake dusted with walnuts and carrot slapped with a decadent cream cheese frosting. What I miss about the old version is the heartiness from the huge slice - of course portions are daintier now and less sinful. This is an American favourite gone asian with the huat kueh texture.

Am I still a fan? That is the question to ask.

waffle

Belgian-styled Waffle ($12)
Vanilla icecream, chocolate sauce, almonds and fruits

Their waffles are crispy but ended up somewhat soggy with the mass of ingredients on top - strawberries and blue berries made this a fruity delight to have.

I had my first cider at Ice Cold Beer and because of its cute moniker Pipsqueak I ordered it. Cider is easier to down than beer though at these bars. Usually at GT, it's either juice or coffee for the companions so this visit was a first where we had a go at their popular ciders.

pear cider

Rekordelig Pear Cider ($15)
Brewed from fresh Swedish spring water, crisp sweetness of pear

A ladies drink and hardly tart like most ciders. I would reorder this!

toffee apple

Brothers Toffee Apple ($15)
Cream soda and smoldering toffee

Listed as the top seller, the caramel notes went well with me and the soda was not overly effervescent which made this a perfect accompaniment with the desserts. This fragrant drink got me taking a deep whiff with every swig.

tea

The companion that decided on tea, from the range of JING tea. 

Business was expectedly brisk and service was kept warm. I look forward to the next visit for more of their homely fare. Until then, keep up the fabulous work ladies!

Group Therapy 
Duxton Hill

Monday, April 29, 2013

KFC Breakfast Eats II

I am through and through a fastfood junkie and I blame nobody else but the telly for bad influence - as with all other consumers in denial!



wrap

Original a.m. Meal ($4.80)

I like KFC’s wraps since a long time ago. Stuffed with diced fried chicken, tomatoes, cheese and scrambled eggs, this wrap was the perfect breakfast item.


waffles

a.m. Waffles and Eggs Meal ($4.80)

Two halves of a waffle which would equate to just one, fluffy to taste and even better with a dash of maple flavoured syrup (note: not maple syrup) and dollop of butter. The scrambled eggs were pretty good to me, a complete non-fan of the Mcdonald’s version.

tart 

Portugese Egg Tart ($1.30)

It's no secret that I love their egg tarts - buttery and eggy and it would put the authentic egg tarts to shame! A sinful addition to the already sinful breakfast - I'm lovin' it! Pun definitely included.

Looks like there is more to their breakfast than their delicious blueberry pancakes! Until the next visit!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chiffon Cake Trail

Bengawan Solo carved a name for the green cake with a hole, making it the most imported gift amongst friends and relatives. Chiffon cakes, made from whipping eggs till the foam gets stiff peaks is no easy feat - coming from a kitchen noob and having my chiffon cakes fail on me time and again. To think the aunties at departmental stores have it done so easily.

Here's a list that I have dutifully chomped on for quite a while, read on and hopefully it gets you wishing for a slice at the end of this post!

glace

Glace Patisserie and its signature orange box. I like their Japanese confectioneries a fair bit.

 full chiffon

Yuzu Chiffon ($12)

From its range of fruity chiffons, we found love in yuzu. These used to be priced at slightly over $10 and are now on an upward trend. Buy them before the next price hike!

orange chiffon

These spongey and zesty cakes are the answer to a light tea time snack. The clever usage of tofu makes this healthier than it already is.


cupcake

Juz Bread ($1.20), One Raffles Place

These are marketed as hokkaido cakes though I see none of such in hokkaido. Probably the milk used but I rather wave it off as another chiffon cake. 

hokkaido cake

These are light cakes dusted with icing sugar, lacking in some bounced that a chiffon cake has. Ordinary at best.

chinta manis

Chinta Manis Pandan Chiffon ($5.80)

Bengawan Solo's rival in the same Peranakan sphere. Portioned way smaller than the regular ones and deemed easier to consume than the usual size.

sliced


The shade of green is a tad bright, neon even. Fragrance unbeatable, one that I could smell even from the plastic bag. Bengawan Solo this is not, neither is it a Japanese chiffon, a tad sweet, slight dry and a wee bit too heavy on coconut, this is a decent pandan chiffon that gets better the longer kept.

chiffon 

Peranakan chiffon this is then. 



DSC_0124 

Chiffon Cake ($0.70), Han's Cafe 

I would consider these swiss rolls rather than chiffon cake due to its density. Dry despite the buttercream, this is as pedestrian as it can get. 

DSC_0125 

Artificially too sweet in its strawberry flavour too.

And the chomping goes on! What is your favourite brand of chiffon cake then?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Asia Grand @ Odeon Towers

Asia Grand has been at Odeon Towers for quite some time now and until I step foot into it, I never knew how big an area it occupies. The number of yum cha folks is amazingly many too - imagine a restaurant operating at full capacity over lunch - that is Asia Grand for you.

table

Super angpow packet design for a table cloth and napkin!

appetizer

The appetizer of vinegared fishcakes whets the appetite greatly, causing us to over order. 

promo

Promotions galore!

har gao

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling "Har Gao" ($5.20)

These are staples and were not too bad with the fresh prawns and dab of mustard.

xo carrot cake

Fried Carrot Cake in X.O. Sauce ($10)

Lightly battered with a lovely crisp, the generous scattering of bean sprouts and prawns made it one hearty dish. Toss in additional chilli X.O. sauce for a fiery punch - loves it!

xlb

Steamed Shanghai Minced Pork Dumpling ($4.60)

With all things yummy from the skin to broth, the main fault lay in the pork ball that was gamey. An unfortunate taste that ruined this otherwise stellar dish.

ham sui kok

Fried Delicious Dumpling ($4.60)

I am usually not a fan of this but the sweetened mochi filling with diced chicken was delicious!

mango prawn

Fried Mango and Shrimp Roll ($5.20)

Banana is a more common ingredient than mango and the mushy mango was not such a great accompaniment for the prawn afterall. 

Fried Yam Dumpling ($4.60)

Another that I am usually on the fence about, this light yam filled delight is crisp and tasty. Best of all, it was hardly as heavy as it looks.

duck

The usual rara.

duck

Peking Duck ($38)

Originally priced at $60 for whole and $34 for half, this is a steal for an additonal $4 more. They scrimped on each crepe shoving either a sliver of cucumber or spring onion when it is usually both in one. The crepe was ordinary and I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into the succulent duck meat when I realised it was ordered to be shredded and fried with the noodle. No review of the meat!

eefu noodles

Duck Eefu Noodles (Supplement of $10)

These saucy noodles were a tad salty and tasted like preserved vegetables were stir fried with it. The duck meat was definitely overshadowed here and I was disappointed. Eefu noodles ought to be kept simple without fuss next time, I take a mental note. On hindsight, chopping the duck up would have gotten us a bigger bang for the buck with more meat and definitely taste.

hashima

Hashima ($12)

Too white, we all concurred after eyeballing it for a good while before tucking into it. I suppose the hashima was bleeched or the chef forgot to throw in brown sugar rocks for some colouring.

mango

Pomelo Mango Sago ($8)

This was on the sweet side instead of the tangy that it usually is. The thickened texture of the mango juice made this mostly liquid than semi solid.

aloe vera

Aloe Vera Jelly ($8)

A palatte cleanser with a dash of lime, the refreshing flavours washed down the grease from the meal. Loved the mildly sweet jelly and aloe vera bits.

Asia Grand is a hit-miss affair. I suppose for just the Peking Duck, it is value for money. Their ala carte specialty items look particularly inviting - think bamboo clams for 10 buckeroos or boston lobster with goose liver for 38.

Asia Grand Restaurant
Odeon Towers

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wedding Lunch @ Pan Pacific Orchard

I attended the first wedding of 2013 somewhere in March and recalled sometime ago during a tasting that Pan Pacific Orchard is targeted at couples who intend to have more intimate weddings to the likes of 10-15 tables. The ballroom was cosy and had a rather low ceiling - reminded me of M Hotel's ballrooms. Nonetheless, despite being lunch the usual fanfare continued.

menu

The menu that leaked ink.

cold dish

Pacific Five Treasures
Stir fried vegetarian kong po style, spiced young mango salad, green apple with mayo, crispy beancurd roll, steamed seaweed roll

"Be my guest" from Beauty and the Beast was the theme for this appetizer though the waiters hardly danced more than a wiggle. While I do not understand the necessity of the theatrics, a bride to be mentioned that this was mandatory by the hotel. Done with the theatrics, the food was finally served and lukewarm it was. Barely tasty this was, in a nutshell.

sharks fin

Shark's Fin Broth
Pacific swimmer crab, forest bamboo pith

The unspeakable was hardly discernible though crab meat and fishmaw was in generous amounts.

duck

Cantonese Roasted Duck
Homemade sweet sauce, plum emulsion

Once again, this was served luke warm and thank my lucky stars not gamey. The meat was tender and portions averaged at 2.5 pieces per person. And I wonder how I ever get full from wedding meals.

prawns

Poached "Live" Tiger Prawns
Superior broth, wolfberry berries

Had it not been for the fact that the server's thumb was soaking in the broth, I would have lapped up every drop of the tasty broth. Prawns were fresh for a start!

veggie

Hongkong Baby Pak Choy
Braised mushroom, superior oyster sauce

Well, greens are greens...I have yet to encounter an expensive tasting and looking plate apart from these wedding meal usual suspects.

fish

Steamed Thai "Live" Snapper
Lemongrass infusion, kalfir lime leaves

An interesting twist to the usual Teochew steamed fish or deepfried soon hock. A pity this was hardly piping hot.

rice

Lotus Steamed Aromatic Rice
Chinese preserved sausage, mushroom

When all else fails, I thought the rice dish would too and was lamenting yet another mooshy mushy one. And surprise! It turned out to be the best dish of the day with fragrant grains and tasty bits of sausage and mushroom made it hand-me-doubles-now! The server brought annoyance to greater heights when he confidently decided to remove the half distributed plate away much to our chagrin. I never quite heard half a table of people holler so loudly at another for the dish to be placed back on the table. Yes, good food is worth losing face for, sometimes.

orh nee

Yam Paste
Gingko nuts, coconut milk

I thought it would be home run with pomspoms and confetti strewn when lunch was almost ending after a good three hours. Milky and watery dessert soup with gingko nuts was it, gone is the everloved thick yam paste.

favour

Yet another to add to the collection.

As with all wedding lunches and dinners, it is about giving the heartiest congratulations to yet another loving couple who decided to take the plunge - so here's it, congrats Mr and Mrs Quek!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Little Bean @ Ubi Ave 1



Touted to be as good as Lao Ban though that is what every other competitor says. Possibly one of the newer kids on the block in this very saturated bean curd market, here’s a review of it -  

beancurd

Original ($1.50)

Almond ($2)

Truth be told, all beancurd puddings look the same right down to the wobble, yet matching up in terms of taste is always a different story of its own. On the sweet side, the bicarbonate was on the heavy side for both which resulted in the tingles on the tongue. Almond was over powering unfortunately. When left overnight, there was possibly a slight semblance to Lao Ban, just that the soyabean milk was thicker in consistency. I prefer 51 as compared to Lao Ban these days – still a notch down from the big boys.

Little Bean
Blk 325 Ubi Ave 1  #01-707

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Soup Broth Asia @ Raffles City

I love my double boiled chinese soups as much as the western soups. Under the umbrella of The Soup Spoon Group is Soup Broth Asia, aimed at providing wholesome Asian dishes.

soup broth

soup broth asia

nabe hotpot

Sumo Nabe Hotpot ($15.80)

Soy milk makes this sweet. The chicken chunks used were boneless and mixture of ingredients like beancurd, lotus root and carrot made this extra wholesome. Yam rice with this sounds like a perfect combination!

three cup chicken

Three Cup Chicken Hotpot ($13.80)

Just the kind the Mom would whip up in the kitchen. A peppery and tasty sizzling pot of chicken wing parts and chilli. Picking at the bones was quite a chore though since there were so many bone chips embedded.

These hot pots are meant for 2-3 pax and somehow due to the choice, we both ended up having a chicken overload. Zi char without the smoke nor smells that one would be cloaked in at a coffee shop, and prices match too. Worth a try for a different kind of dinner in a shopping mall.

Soup Broth Asia
Raffles City

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hokkaido, the cheap manner

I cannot believe I actually left this entry out! Brings back huge memories of the winterwonderland when we are scorching alive here. 

***

I rummage through supermarts not only for cheap dinners but also nibbles which are great for long journeys we take from point to point. Horror is having the stomach create a ruckus on board the train and wishing the curtains are edible.

This entry will cover the nibbles that we enjoyed at odd hours of the day - timings I term greedy hours. 
snack

Cream cheese and caramel flavoured Collon cookies!

collon

These were well sweet little treats great for popping in the mouth.

cheese

Morinaga has a richer cheese version with disney imprinted on them - making them even cuter than cute to eat.

collon

Limited edition berry flavoured collon cookies which were not all too different from the other flavours.

chicken

Chicken Karaage are my kind of roadtrip buddies. Just like popcorn chicken, only chunkier.

chicken popcorn

A porkier version which rendered it a better bite.

cutlet

My train staple - tonkatsu sandwiches with plum sauce. These were sold by weight! We would have ordered more if only they did not sell out on this.

golden brown

We decided to make our own katsu sandwich. Plump patty to start.

guess what!

Thick toast to go with.

homemade katsu sandwich

There you go - breakfast so hearty but a dash of plum sauce would have made this all the more awesome.

beef salad

Roast beef salad to go!

Before going to Hokkaido, I was enamored by that one pack of Hokkaido Potato I chomped on and thought little of Calbee's Potato sticks. I was sure that there will be cheaper alternatives that taste as good, if not better.

potato fries

These 100 Yen pack was calling out - for quantity and price more definitely. Yet, they were oilier, saltier and miles off from THE potato snack.

100 yen

I was gleeful when I saw more than one equivalent available but these were sweet potato sticks instead that reeked of oil.

sweet potato sticks

We had problems sharing the love.

So word has it that 100 Yen shops are not always the best, I concur completely. You DO get what you pay for!

Then of course, there are dorayakis that made Japan Japanese. Doraemon did not become famous for nothing.

dorayaki

Creme brulee in a dorayaki.

creme brulee

And it's melty pasty wobbly like that. Albeit a little sweet, it was as caramel as it was supposed to be.

red bean

Not forgetting the original red bean.

mochi

These were pancake versions which we nabbed on a steal at the supermart one evening. I can weak like that - sell me three at a discount and I grab that instead of caring how much space the stomach actually has, or the stomachs the travel companions collectively have.

custard

Custard filling was plain heaven on earth. Mochi and custard do go very well together and this was happiness in its element.

red bean

Red bean filling which is ordinarily so, in comparison.

Foreword about Haagen Dazs, I am hardly a fan of it for economic reasons and well, value as well though of late, they are bridging the gap of the two and I am a major fan of their creme brulee flavour. Limited edition was all it needed to make us converts.

more tubs

Pumpkin, purple sweet potato and opera flavours were up for grabs during winter.

pumpkin

I cannot expect this to taste any less of pumpkin, especially in Japan. And I was just sold on it. Even in winter, I had to have my icecream.

tubs

Opera cake in a tub, yum!

opera

Ingenuity does not stop there either with this flavour being the ultimate dream come through for chocolate fans. The layers that made it taste just like the cake - Bless the Japanese seriously!

vanilla 

Well then, being pampered this way means the more ordinary flavours like vanilla in good old Meiji is not going to please too much. Creamy and rich this is but I was already on the bandwagon of Haagan Dazs.

We possibly had too many choices for dessert and wanting to try at least one from each category meant going to bed on a sugar high.

grape jelly

Fruit jellies in a bid to be healthy. My defence is: There's fruit inside!

peach jelly 

Peach was a personal favourite when the pocket did not allow for their fresh ones! Loved the tingly zesty taste that each bite brought.

With that, sayonara Japan! I would love to head back for more infact...once is never enough, neither two. Until the piggy bank is full again and the other travels fulfilled...I will be back!