Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Sun to Thu: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order 10pm)
Fri-Sat and Eve of PH: 12pm to 12am (Last Order 11pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spend like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

OK you guys I finally tried Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St a couple of weeks ago! (edited to add: ok it’s now become a couple of months ago because I am just the worst and I sat on this review with about 20% to go and it just remained in drafts FOREVER).

Some of you might know I went to Tokyo on holiday in May this year, and came back literally 2 days before Ramadan began. I had an amazing time there eating my absolute weight in sashimi, sushi and even life-changing lobster rolls from Dominique Ansel Bakery (OK lah I’m not so strict which is why I *need* to keep a halal blog to encourage myself to find halal options). Unfortunately I only had time to visit one halal ramen place called Naritaya near the Asakusa shrine, prior to attending the Sanja Matsuri festival. (P.s. it’s not great, but it’ll do if you’re looking for halal food in the area!)

So you can imagine how happy I was at the opening of Hararu Izakaya in late April 2017, the first halal izakaya in Singapore! We’re still some ways away from like, a halal Shinji or even a halal Teppei for that matter, but still this is a welcome step in the right direction! You can read more about the restaurant founders in this article I found online here.

So hilarious fact: Hararu is how the Japanese would pronounce the term “halal”, just like how in Southpark, the (Japanese) people at Sony had a meeting to discuss their “serusu report” (sales report) for the new PlayStation and the launch of their Brack Friday Bunduru (Black Friday Bundle) LOL I died. Loved this episode.

Also, in case you guys didn’t know, the term izakaya refers to a Japanese gastropub, and has its origins in sake shops that allowed its customers to stay and drink on-site (‘”i” means to stay, and “sakaya” refers to sake shop.) So okay lah not super halal origins, but why should seekers of halal food be denied those delicious grilled skewers, right?

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Located on Bussorah St right next to Kampong Glam Cafe and opposite the now-defunct Vintage Delicafe, Hararu Izakaya occupies 2 floors of the shophouse. I made reservations about 5 days in advance and was ushered to the more pleasant upstairs seating – sweet! We were asked to remove our shoes to sit on the tatami mats (don’t worry there’s a depression “moat” in the floor around the table so you sit on the edge and put your legs in, so you’re effectively sitting on a bench instead of cross-legged and risking accidental indecency if you’re wearing a skirt lol). I was so thankful I wore sandals that could be slipped off and on with ease instead of, say, shoes with buckles UGH. Or like sneakers with ratty sockettes lol. Y’all have been warned.

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You sit on the floor and put your legs in the “moat”!

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I assume all mountains in Japanese drawings are Mount Fuji because I don’t know any other names help omg let me read up more so I don’t stay ignorant ugh

We ordered from a digital menu on an ipad attached to the table – I can’t tell you how much I love this. This iPad ordering system is prevalent in Japanese izakayas as it facilitates ordering skewers gradually and incrementally. Love it. Plus you don’t have to keep calling the waitress over to take your order. It’s great, 10/10.

So anyway we started off with the Hotate Turkey Bacon (S$6 for 2 skewers), which features grilled scallop wrapped in turkey bacon. You can choose the version with shio salt dressing or teriyaki sauce dressing, and we tried both:

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Hotate Turkey Bacon on Teriyaki sauce (S$6) – 9/10

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Hotate Turkey Bacon in shio salt (S$6) – 9/10

YUM I really liked these! The scallop tasted fresh and was flavourful, while the turkey bacon really helped raise the umami quotient. I’m a little torn with regards to which dressing is better than the other; it’ll really depend on your mood as the teriyaki dressing can be a little sweet for some but also more juicy than the salt. I’d say a solid 9/10 for both of these.

We were deciding between udon or soba noodles, and eventually decided on the Zaru Soba (S$8). Here’s a definition for you guys taken from Just One Cookbook:

Zaru Soba is a chilled noodle dish made from buckwheat flour and served with soy sauce based dipping sauce called tsuyu (つゆ). The word zaru means “a strainer” in Japanese and the name of the dish was derived from the way the noodles are served over a bamboo strainer during Edo Period.

So I always thought I was more of an udon girl; I find the chewy texture of the thick noodles in hot broth very satisfying and comforting. However, in the past year I’ve been dipping my toes in the proverbial cold soba waters (this metaphor does not work but go with me on it) and I’ve come to really like cold soba as a refreshing, light dish.

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The ones at Hararu, unfortunately, were not great. The soba was too starchy, while the good-quality ones were more refined with a springier, lighter texture. The dipping sauce was just fine, but the noodles are really the star of the show, and to have them be mediocre is a little disappointing. I hope they tweak the texture next time! 5/10

We also had the Negima chicken thigh and leek skewers (S$5 for 2 skewers):

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Negima Chicken Thigh and Leek Skewers (S$5)

YUM. Happy to report these chicken thighs were juicy and well-seasoned, yum! I even ate the leek which had a slightly charred taste yum and wasn’t super oniony YES. Definitely a staple skewer for me. 9/10

We tried to be all healthy and included the Shiitake Negi (S$4 for 2 skewers) in our order so we can say alright we had some vegetables:

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Shiitake Skewer (S$4) – 6.5/10

I confess I am not usually the biggest fan of shiitake, especially in stir fries, but I don’t mind them grilled! That being said, I still found these were pretty average – a little dry and rubbery, although I honestly don’t know if they would’ve been better elsewhere. 6.5/10 I guess!

We also had to try the Gyu Kushi Ponzu (S$10) which were the beef skewers in a citrus + soy sauce glaze (bonus: click here for ponzu recipe):

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Gyu Kushi Ponzu beef skewer (S$10) – 8/10

You will not believe how many times I accidentally typed Ponzi (as in Ponzi scheme) instead of Ponzu in this review lol. Anyway these skewers were just a smidge tougher than I would have liked, but I did enjoy the citrusy-umami flavour of the ponzu dressing. A little steep at S$10 but worth a try if you like your red meats like I do. 8/10

Moving on from the skewers, we tried the Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12 for 6 pieces):

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Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12) – 7.5/10

These grilled chicken wings (tebasaki literally means wing tips) were not bad – they were savoury and lightly sour, with additional flavour from the sesame seeds and seaweed garnish! While the meat was succulent, I thought the skin could have been either a little juicier, or crisper instead of in-between. 7.5/10

Finally the pièce-de-résistance was the Gyu Nitsuke (S$18) featuring stewed tender beef ribs in some sweet-savoury sauce.

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Gyu Nitsuke beef rib (S$18) – 10/10

OMG GUYSSSSSS this was really good!!! The beef was really so, so tender, and juicy, and packed with flavour!! I swear, it was super succulent and the meat slid right off the bone and onto my chopsticks UNFFFF YASSSSS.

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HNGGGGGGGG gasm.

OK full disclosure – towards the end, it did get just a little bit jelak because the sauce was a little sweet, but thankfully the dish came with some sort of dip on the side which had a hint of wasabi, helping de-cloy the flavour. I’d still rate it 10/10 though!

All in all I had a good time at Hararu Izakaya, although I do think there is room for improvement in the quality of the dishes. Nothing some tweaks and continuous fine-tuning wouldn’t fix. I LOVE the ambience of the 2nd floor seating, and I love the ipad ordering system. I do however wish they would serve more like sashimi stuff (OKAY I KNOW this is a yakitori place ugh I’m sorry but I love sashimi help please send me some).

Also I hate that they do not serve water, and a drink costs you like S$3-6 at this place. I def got a sore throat the next day because of all the skewers and not enough water (my fault for being too cheap to buy mineral water) so either come with a water bottle of your own or be prepared to pay for water (mmmm I just do not agree with paying for water ugh).

Still, looking forward to going back and trying that amazing Gyu Nitsuke beef ribs ugh.

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Sun to Thu: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order 10pm)
Fri-Sat and Eve of PH: 12pm to 12am (Last Order 11pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spending like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

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Blue Jasmine at Park Hotel Farrer Park

Blue Jasmine
5th Floor, Park Hotel Farrer Park
10 Farrer Park Station Road
Singapore 217564
Tel: +65 6824 8851
Online Reservations: Click here
Nearest MRT Station: Farrer Park (NE8) Exit A

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Recommended dishes: Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20), Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), Glass Noodles (S$16), Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26)

Hey guys! As we speak I’m sitting in a hotel room at the Ritz, where my friends and I are having a staycay for a joint bachelorette party and a farewell party for our friend who’s leaving for London to do her masters! 😭 We’re having some down time now so I thought it would be the perfect time to catch up on my reviews 🙂

Last week I had the privilege of trying out the halal-certified Thai restaurant at Park Hotel Farrer Park called Blue Jasmine. It was my first time going to the hotel, which is situated at Farrer Park MRT station on the Northeast Line (exit A I think?).

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Located on the 5th floor of Park Hotel Farrer Park, Blue Jasmine has both indoor and outdoor seating – indoors is of course comfortable and air conditioned, although in the evenings the al fresco area is also really lovely and romantic!

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Beautiful shadows on the ceiling!

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Super romantic outdoor seating

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Blue Jasmine is helmed by the Malaysian Chef Bright, who spent 8 years cooking in Thailand before coming to Singapore. He brings his pedigree and regional experience to the kitchen, together with his 2 chefs Khun Nipaporn and Khun Donnapa, both of whom hail from Chiang Mai.

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Chef Bright, pictured here with his sous chef Khun Nipaporn (they are so cute together!)

Here’s a look at the menu:

So as you can see, we had a choice of either going for the semi-buffet, in which case we would be served a main and still get to help ourselves to the buffet spread – or, we could go for the à la carte menu. Naturally we tried both options to get a more complete experience.

To kick off the à la carte menu tasting, we first tried the Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), consisting of grilled beef slices in thai herbs and smoked chilli dressing:

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Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20) – 10/10

OK no kidding, this Tiger Cry Beef Salad was SO, so delicious and life-changing. The Australian beef strips were perfectly cooked and totally tender,  filling our mouths with a sweet/spicy/tangy taste with every bite. I could def taste a hint of lime and coriander, which i loved. I can’t emphasize enough how good this dish was ugh please go try it. I was so tempted to finish the whole plate but had to stop myself lest I got way too full to try the other dishes. 10/10

Chef Bright also recommended the Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20) which we tried with the red paste option (as opposed to clear option):

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Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20) – 10/10

Wow guys, this soup was really robust, rich and bursting with flavour! To top things off, it was chockfull of plump prawns and oyster mushrooms. I had no complaints about this soup. 10/10

Next up on the starter list was the Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), featuring minced chicken balls coated in crispy ground rice, roasted with chilli and kaffir lime leaves, and served with a nam jim jeow dip made from Thai crushed red peppers and tamarind:

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Larb Chicken Balls (S$12) – 9/10

Yassss the chicken balls were also really yummy! Underneath the crunchy toasted rice coating, the minced chicken was real juicy and when you dip it in the spicy dip, it just adds more punch. We asked Chef Bright what larb meant (because it sounds frighteningly like lard lol) and he says larb dishes usually comprise some sort of minced meat chopped together with fish sauce, chilli flakes and crispy ground rice. Anyway, loved these chicken balls. 9/10

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Mmm look how juicy

To round off the appetizers we tried the Larb Salmon Salad (S$18) consisting of cured salmon with crushed tomatoes, lemongrass and red shallots tossed in a spicy tamarind dressing and served with puffed rice crackers:

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Larb Salmon (S$18) – 7/10

I really love salmon anything (cured, smoked, raw, grilled, pan-seared, breaded) and while I liked the cured salmon taste, I was not a fan of the shallots because I hate onions and that raw onion taste argh. I like the idea of using the rice crackers as a bed for the salmon, so you eat it like a canapé, but I found these ones a little too thick and unwieldy. Honestly I’d much rather like regular fish keropok or at least a thinner version of these rice crackers. 7/10

From the Rice & Noodles section of the menu, we tried the Glass Noodles (S$16) which came with prawns, asparagus, sea acacia (called cha-om in Thai!) and black fungus mushrooms cooked in fish sauce:

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Glass Noodles (S$16) – 9/10

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Another angle of the Glass Noodles

Ooh the glass noodles have a very good wok hei charred taste and were super flavourful. I loved the different components of the dish – the prawns, which were really fresh and juicy, the noodles themselves, which had a great springy texture, and even the asparagus which lent some crunch and pared down the richness of the noodles. The only thing I didn’t super like was the black fungus, which wasn’t the dried kind and hence were a little jelly-like and tasted strongly of shiitake (not my fave). 9/10

We then tried two different types of curry, the first of which was the Green Curry Chicken (S$24):

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Green Curry Chicken (S$24) – 8/10 (pictured here with the Blue Jasmine rice at the back!)

Hmmm the first thing I noticed was that the curry was not green, but Chef says it’s because he adds a dollop of red curry paste to it so it changes color. Idk, I feel like if you want to call it green curry it should be green, but ok. The second thing I noticed was that the chicken was not de-boned, which was a little disappointing. I know some people like to gnaw on bony chicken but I would rather just like chicken meat in a curry (this is why I love hospital food lol they’re always deboned and balanced and healthy). Apart from these two nitpicks (issa word, trust), I thought the curry was quite good – a little sweet, a little spicy, and not too thick so you don’t get jelak. Also Chef says they use free-range chicken for the green curry, so hurray! 8/10

The second curry we tried was the Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26) served with Blue Jasmine vermicelli:

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Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26) – 9/10

Omg guys I LOVE the blue colour of the vermicelli it’s just so delightful. It could’ve come across as quite gimmicky, but naw man for me it was just really pretty. It helped that the noodles had good bite and springy texture – all too often you get those that are wayyyy too soft and overcooked. The curry itself was thick and rather sweet, with betel leaves adding a nice counterbalance. They were also pretty generous with the portion of crab meat, hidden from plain view underneath all that yellow curry. My friend didn’t like that the curry was almost too sweet, but I didn’t mind it. I suppose you can add some chilli to the soup to your taste. 9/10

Finally we tried the Half Roast Chicken (S$16), which features a North-eastern Thai chicken marinated in spices and served with a smoked chilli dressing:

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Half Roast Chicken (S$16) – 8/10

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Another shot of the chicken with glutinous rice!

Surprisingly I found the chicken to be quite tender and not dry. Paired with the nam jim jeow sauce – which is a little like the black sauce in rojak petis but more spicy and less pungent – the chicken was a delight with every bite. The crispy charred bits of skin around the edges were super yummy and complement the sweet taste of the glazed chicken skin. I have to say though, although it was a good chicken dish, I probably would come back next time and order the more unique dishes like the Tiger Cry Beef Salad or the Crab Meat Yellow Curry. 8/10

By the time we finished the chicken, we were basically dying and bursting at the seams, but still curious to try the Red Ruby (S$12) that was recommended by Chef Bright:

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Red Ruby (S$12) – 9/10

Oh boy, as far as Red Ruby desserts go, this was really quite luxurious. It came with not just red rubies (chestnuts), but also green emeralds and blue topazes lol. I loved crunching on those chestnut gems. There was also some strawberries, blueberries, strips of jackfruit to go with the coconut ice cream, UNFFFFFF. A very decadent dessert that should be shared. 9/10

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YUMMMMMM

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Phew, so we went through all of these dishes from the à la carte menu. Here’s a look at some of the offerings from the buffet, if you’re keen on the semi-buffet deal:

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I love green mango salad omg.

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LOL miang kan? (miang usually means like hum sup in Malay)

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Mmmm ceviche! Super refreshing.

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The mushroom tom yum soup and taro chips from the buffet! Omg the tom yum soup was real tasty with a super spicy kick! And the taro chips in thai tom yum dressing was SO addictive omg I loved them and really had to stop myself from eating so much and spoiling my actual dinner.

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Great for families of 4! (or 8! OR 12?!) I want to bring my family here but my sister-in-law makes 5. I don’t love her that much so I guess I can tell her to wait downstairs HAHA JK ATIQ I KNOW YOU’RE READING THIS.

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The live station which I only noticed on the way out after my meal lol ugh.

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So many desserts omg where got space

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Peep the DIY coconut ice cream section at the top right. Also check out the blue rice in the mango sticky rice! Cute.

All in all I’d say I had a VERY satisfying time at Blue Jasmine, and I will definitely be back here with family and friends to have the delicious Thai food again. Because of the quality of the food and the comfortable ambience, I would also highly recommend it for business lunches or dinner for clients with halal requirements.

Blue Jasmine
5th Floor, Park Hotel Farrer Park
10 Farrer Park Station Road
Singapore 217564
Tel: +65 6824 8851
Online Reservations: Click here
Nearest MRT Station: Farrer Park (NE8) Exit A

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Recommended dishes: Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20), Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), Glass Noodles (S$16), Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26)

OmoOmoDon at The Star Vista

OmoOmoDon
The Star Vista #02-14/15
1 Vista Exchange Green
Singapore 138617

Opening Hours
1130am to 930pm daily

Halal status: Halal-certified!
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Recommended dishes: Bird’s Nest Don (S$10), Takoyaki (S$5)

Guys oh my god. Game of Thrones season 7 is over :”'( NO SPOILERS I PROMISE! I’m just sad it’s over – I totally rushed over to my friend’s place near my office at lunchtime, watched all 1h20m of the episode while scarfing down a plate of spaghetti bolognaise in the first 10 minutes (I mean I inhaled it fr), rushed back to the office and breezed past the doors into my seat like it was nbd. I guess now is a good time to get caught up on all the books! Luckily GRRM has been taking his own sweet time with The Winds of Winter so I can finish the first five books in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Anyway for those of you who don’t watch GoT, sorry! You guys must be SO sick and tired of hearing all these Throne-heads constantly talking about the latest episode etc and making countless GoT references in their daily conversations haha. Seriously though go get caught up on seasons 1-7 before season 8 comes out. OR you can bear with it for just one more season and then it’ll be over forever (but then you’ll miss out).

OKAY so now that’s out of the way, let me tell you guys about this place I recently got to try at the Star Vista called OmoOmoDon! It’s a fusion Korean-Japanese place in Star Vista serving up 18 customized signature “dons”, which are like essentially bowls of rice/noodles/grains with various toppings such as beef, chicken, chicken, and veggies!

Here’s a look at the extensive menu:

 

So the unique thing about OmoOmoDon is that you order from a self-service kiosk, wait for your number to be flashed on a screen, collect your order from the counter, and after you finish eating you put the tray away at the tray return area. MINIMAL HUMAN CONTACT YASSS. Perfect for those days when you just can’t deal with people, you know? It’s like when you get an Uber, step in, driver confirms your name and location, and proceeds to drive in silence for the rest of the ride before saying “thank you, have a good day!” FIVE STARS BABY. Please don’t try and talk to me while I’m trying to put on my makeup at 8am (who am I kidding? More like 9am) in the morning I’m just not a morning person it’s not you it’s me don’t take it personally.

So anyway the first thing we tried while waiting for our dons to arrive was the Takoyaki (S$5):

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Takoyaki (S$5) – 9/10

Ooh this was pretty satisfyin! It’s got a thick chunk of octopus inside and was pretty mushy. It was like a party in the mouth with the not-too-strong BBQ sauce and the not-too-overpowering mayo. I’m not a huge fan of mayo but thankfully they didn’t drown the balls in them. 9/10

On to the Dons! (LOL remember Don Omar with that horrible song Dale Don Dale? RATCHET.) I love my steak so we just HAD to try the Yes Sir! Yes Sir! (S$12), which features sirloin steak on a bed of kimchi omelette-covered multi-grain rice, drizzled in teriyaki sauce:

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Yes Sir! Yes Sir! Don (S$12) – 8.5/10

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UNFFFF medium-cooked steak ugh so good

Yum guys, the New Zealand chilled sirloin was pretty decent! The meat was tender, juicy and only sightly sinewy in some parts. I mean for $12, this was a downright steal. I learned that the machine that cooks the steak goes on timer, and that’s how they achieve consistency in the quality of the meat and the doneness – so brillz. The teriyaki sauce made every mouthful of the rice and omelette so moist, and the kimchi slices were so flavourful! A really good combination, although I’m not really sold on the multigrain rice as the base. Of course, this is easily remedied by building your own Don and selecting a different base! 8.5/10

Next up was the Bird’s Nest (S$10), comprising spicy chicken and onsen egg on a bed of Korean glass noodle, topped off with some tobiko (flying fish roe) and some Korean BBQ sauce:

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Bird’s Nest (S$10) – 10/10

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HNGGGGGGG MY FAVE DEAD OMG HELP

OMG THIS WAS SO YUMMY?!?!? What is this magical sweet-savoury Korean BBQ sauce that makes this thing so, so juicy?! I was all over this don like white on rice for real – this was straight up delicious and I even felt guilty for liking this so much compared to the previous don I had to tone down my enthusiasm. The sweet-savoury sauce flavour was balanced out pretty well by the spicy chicken, yum. Texture-wise this was also a home-run as the glass noodles were slightly thicker than regular vermicelli and had great bite! Plus the tobiko (flying fish roe) helped add more crunch to the texture and some umami to the flavour palette. Just, perfect. Also did I mention this was only S$10?! So crazy. 10/10

A little hard to live up to a perfect 10, but the Ji-Ji Don (S$10) makes a valiant attempt with not one, not two, but THREE different types of chicken – spicy chicken, teriyaki chicken, and soy garlic winglets, served on a bed of Korean white rice with onsen egg and bibimbap sauce.

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Ji-Ji Don (S$10) – 8/10

 

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3 types of chicken for all you chicken-heads lol (Remember Fatman Scoop being all “All you chicken heads! Be quiet!” in that massive club banger Be Faithful? Lol nonsense.

OK real though, I can’t deal with 3 types of chicken in one don, it felt way too heavy for me. I really liked the spicy chicken and the teriyaki chicken, but was pretty ambivalent about the soy garlic winglets. Even when I’m at 4 Fingers I get the hot flavour of drumettes instead of the soy garlic, so I guess it’s just a personal preference. A pretty safe-choice type of don otherwise! 8/10

Phew, so that was my first experience of OmoOmoDon, and boy was I impressed! You seriously do not get too many halal Jap-Korean fusion place, especially those that do healthier options with multigrain rice and grilled salmon as one of the proteins! YUM. The Management are planning to make OmoOmo Food Concepts at Kallang Wave Mall halal sometime in future, so watch out for that! For now though, only OmoOmoDon remains halal-certified. I really wish I had an OmoOmoDon where I work, but I guess since I’m a westie I could def pop by on the way home after work for dinner. And I DEFINITELY intend to come back here!

I’ll leave you guys with some pictures of the food and place here:

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Aside from being really hearty and delicious they’re also really photogenic ugh

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Notice that the mouth of the icon is also a rice bowl OMGGG GENIUSS

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More beauty

OmoOmoDon
The Star Vista #02-14/15
1 Vista Exchange Green
Singapore 138617

Opening Hours
1130am to 930pm daily

Halal status: Halal-certified!
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Recommended dishes: Bird’s Nest Don (S$10), Takoyaki (S$5)

Chef Wan’s Kitchen at Esplanade Mall

Chef Wan’s Kitchen
#02-14 Esplanade Mall
8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802
Reservations: reservations@chefwanskitchen.com

Operating Hours
Lunch: 12pm to 230pm daily
Dinner: 530pm to 1030pm daily

Halal status: Post-MUIS audit, pending certification!
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90), Prawn Curry with Pineapple (S$21.90), Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90), Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90)

Hey guys! Oof sorry I haven’t updated in a while. I recently finished reading Shoe Dog – it’s the very entertaining autobiography of Nike founder and Oregon native, Phil Knight. I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH!!!! It was such a candid, page-turner of a book and I really dug the conversational tone. His narrative voice was so engaging and so humorous, I found myself laughing out loud many, many times on the train, alone in my room, sitting in a cafe; basically everywhere. Plus you learn all these interesting nuggets of pop culture/historical trivia, like how Puma was a splinter-faction started by one of the Adidas brothers! (OK my mum actually told me that a few years ago and I totally dismissed it like “ok what do you know about Adidas, mommmm?” I’m the worst.) And how Nike was the first brand to introduce air cushions into their shoes! Boy, it sure made me reconsider my #teamadidas stance.

Anyway after Shoe Dog I moved on to Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline, which is a science fiction novel set in dystopian 2044, about this protagonist trying to crack a virtual egg-hunt game designed by an 80’s-obsessed game-maker. It is absolutely riveting as well and I’m about halfway through. UGH SO GOOD. You guys should get on that stat if you’re looking for new reading material.

Alright so unsolicited book recommendations aside, as those of you who watched my Instagram stories would know, I was invited to the new Chef Wan’s Kitchen at the Esplanade last week to try out their menu! Ok quick STORYTIME. When I was in London during Raya 2005, I went to this Hari Raya gathering organised by Malaysia House with my Malaysian friends (Ya I was the only Singaporean Malay in my uni and I felt sad and lonely) and Chef Wan was totally there looking fabulous! I mean, I didn’t go up to him or anything because I was a little starstruck (“my mum watches you on tv!” LOL.) but it was cool nonetheless. Anyway I digress.

The all-new Chef Wan’s Kitchen is located on the second floor of the Esplanade, and it’s really the ideal place for a chill dinner with family, especially as the windows look out to the Esplanade waterfront and the gorgeous Marina. It’s the Chef’s first proper sit-down restaurant in Singapore, after he experimented with buffet-dining at the now-closed 1-Market, so I was pretty excited to check it out.

Here’s a look at the restaurant decor:

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_View

Look you can see MBS from here! Gorge.

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You can also look out upon the Esplanade Waterfront and watch people passing by (like a creep)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Interior

View of the entrance/exit from the inside

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Exterior

View of the entrance within Esplanade Mall

On to food – check out this super packed full food table comprising all the dishes we got to try that night!

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Food_Spread

Clockwise from left: Lawar Salad, Javanese Fried Chicken, Nyonya Laksa, Pineapple Prawns, Oxtail Soup, Lontong, Beef Rendang, Ayam Percik and finally Mee Rebus in the middle!

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I tried to do a flatlay like the other very zai photographers around me but let’s face it I was born to eat, not take photos.

We got to try so many dishes omg so let’s break em down dish by dish!

1. Balinese Vegetable and Chicken Salad (S$17.90)

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Balinese Vegetable and Chicken Salad (S$17.90) – 6/10 (sorry this photo is so overexposed)

This lawar salad is made up of tempeh (which is my favourite superfood ever), jackfruit, chicken, and long beans tossed in coconut milk. I truly, love tempeh. Like I will eat it in every which way except for raw BUT it was not enough to save this salad for me. I am not a salad person (unless presented to me in a poké bowl lol or doused in that terrific Japanese sesame dressing), so I really was not feeling this traditional Balinese. Ergo, through no fault of the restaurant’s, this was a weak start for me. Oh plus, S$17.90 for a chicken salad seems pretty steep don’t you guys think? Sorry salad, you’re not lawa to me (lawa means good-looking in Malay and yes I made a terrible pun sorry!! #carpediem). 6/10

2. Javanese Fried Chicken (S$18.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Javanese_Fried_Chicken2

Javanese Fried Chicken (S$18.90) – 8/10

Oof ok I love fried chicken, and this one comes with a bowl of slightly sweet dipping sauce. I think it was a little like peanutty? Anyway the chicken was really crispy on the outside and really quite moist/juicy on the inside, so that was great! However, as with the salad earlier, I’m not quite sure the pricing is sensible here – knock a few dollars off and I might consider it a fair price. 8/10

3. Bibik Neo’s Laksa Noodles (S$15.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Bibik_Neo_Lemak_Laksa_Noodles

Bibik Neo’s Lemak Noodles (S$15.90) – 8/10

OMG look at how lemak it is, all glistening and thick. The laksa was tasty with a really substantial, creamy broth made from coconut milk and also ground prawns! The actual prawns are really big and fresh, and that egg yolk doused in lemak gravy is just 💯. Also love the taupok in it! Now in all honestly I prefer my laksa just a little less thick, but if you guys love your gravy rich as heck, please go for this one. I’d highly recommend asking for more sambal to spice it up, as it can get a little jelak without the heat. 8/10

4. Prawns in Pineapple Curry (S$21.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Nyonya_Gulai_Udang

Prawns in Pineapple Curry (S$21.90) – 9/10 (ugh sorry my photo is so Bad & Blurrie *DAB*)

OK, 15-year-old me would never imagine I would someday be sitting around blogging about how much she enjoyed eating pineapple curry prawns, but here I am doing it anyway. My god, what an adult I’ve become. Anyway yes it was SO SEDAP! And sneakily pedas (spicy), like when you have that first spoonful of the curry you go ‘oh interesting, this is sweet and fragrant with rose notes. I was expecting more of a prickly pineapple taste!’ and then you feel your tongue tingling and then your mouth is suffused with a warm spicy glow. Mmmmmm. 9/10

5. Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90)

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Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90) – 9.5/10

Ahhhh you guys this was my favourite dish of the night! Omg I mean you can tell from the picture just how complex the soup broth is – it was very, very flavourful and savoury. The oxtail was perfectly tender and came off the bone fairly easily, while the potatoes and carrots were a welcome addition to the texture. This definitely could use some roti perancis (french baguette) for dipping, and I wish they’d serve some warm toasted bread to go with the soup. 9.5/10

6. Lontong in Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk (S$13.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Lontong

Lontong (S$13.90) – 7/10

OK maybe it’s not even fair to rate this, but honestly guys, I would not go out to eat Lontong. It’s just not my thing – my mum and brother love it, but I’m more of a soto ayam girl when it comes to traditional malay breakfast food. So while I feel like this was objectively a good lontong, I just would never order it, especially at S$13.90 oh boy. But for all you lontong fiends out there, HAVE AT IT. 7/10

7. Selangor Beef Rendang (S$22.90)

(No picture because I am just the worst and seriously forgot to take one, but you can refer to the main photo of all the dishes at the start of this post!)

OMG guys the rendang is SO tender!!! Seriously the beef just melts in your mouth. The rendang gravy is tasty enough, but my rendang palette has been so, so spoilt by the great cooks in my family (mostly my aunts). I felt like it was missing just a little something to make it more fragrant and complex. Sorry Chef! 8.5/10

8. Grilled Chicken in Spicy Gravy (S$18.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Grilled_Chicken_Ayam_Percik

Grilled Chicken in Spicy Gravy (Ayam Percik) (S$18.90) – 7/10

Mm i had high hopes for this ayam percik, because I LOVE ME SOME AYAM PERCIK. As advertised, the gravy was spicy and delicious, but I thought the actual chicken was a little bland inside. Now this really should not be the case, because they’re supposed to have marinated the chicken in spices and also the gravy, before grilling it. This one came across more like regular fried chicken that they poured some gravy over – I need the meat inside to be more flavourful please! 7/10

9. Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters (S$15.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Mee_Rebus

Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters (S$15.90) – 8/10

Cik Aini refers to Chef Wan’s mum, who made a living selling mee rebus for 31 years to support her family, so this dish is really a tribute to her (😭 😭😭 OK why am I crying while typing this in bed?)

ANYWAY this was interesting because I’m not usually a mee rebus type of person given (a) see Soto Ayam reference above and (b) my aunt already makes literally the best mee rebus ever, and hers is the only mee rebus I will ever bother eating. HOWEVER. This version was not bad! The mee rebus gravy is thick, flavourful, slightly sweet but also gently spicy (the spice creeps in langorously on your tongue). I hate yellow noodles because of the alkali taste but this one didn’t taste plasticky so that was good. I’d still be REALLY reluctant to part with almost S$16 for a bowl of mee rebus though.

I also didn’t understand the whole prawn fritter addition, because the mee rebus is already so heavy, but luckily the prawn fritter was crispy and light, like an atas vadai. 8/10

FINALLY we were done with the starters and mains. We moved onto dessert:

10a. Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90)
10b. Kueh Jongkong (I think! It was a bonus off-menu item)  

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Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90) and the off-menu Kueh Jongkong! UGH that gula melaka syrup is what’s UP.

Ooh the jackfruit (or nangka in Malay!) custard is delicious! I used to think I was firmly #teamcempedak and thought jackfruit was like a low-rent cempedak, but this custard got me re-evaluating my life decisions. It’s reminiscent of Krave’s divine Cempedak Crème Brûlée (again, typing all those accents on a Macbook is torture) – the nangka is sweet but with hints of bitterness so it’s not cloying. Loved it, 9/10.

This other kueh jongkong thing is like ok I’ve never tried it in my life but the tastes are instantly recognizable – it’s creamy and coconutty with an amazing gula melaka flavour. The texture is like panna cotta or pudding, yum! I’m not sure if it’s going to be a permanent menu item but try asking for it if you guys are curious! 8.5/10

We closed with the pièce-de-résistance:

11. Churros Cheese Tart ($5.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Churros_Cheese_Tart

Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90) – 9.5/10

UNFFFFF ok I loved this Churros Cheese Tart omg. Firstly, how pretty does it look? Secondly, the churros tart crust was pretty genius – although I did wish it could be lighter. Thirdly, THE CHEESE WITHINNNNNNN. It’s like Bake cheese tarts but with slightly heavier cream cheese inside. YUMMMM. Definitely worth ordering! If you’re a light eater I’d recommend sharing with one other person because chile you don’t want to eat all that crust after a heavy meal at Chef Wan’s Kitchen lol. 9.5/10

That’s it for my review you guys!! Wasn’t that a long one? Lol in all honesty I think during my next visit here I’d probably be happy with the oxtail soup and maybe 2 other dishes before moving on to dessert. I’d definitely want to come back and bring my family here to try the food. The ambience is lovely – laid-back vibes, warm lighting, wood interiors, a beautiful view of the waterfront outside. As you can see above there were definitely dishes I liked, but also a few I wouldn’t care for. Luckily the menu is extensive enough for you guys to pick whatever you feel like eating most. Give it a try for yourselves; hope you guys have a great time there 🙂

Chef Wan’s Kitchen
#02-14 Esplanade Mall
8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802
Reservations: reservations@chefwanskitchen.com

Operating Hours
Lunch: 12pm to 230pm daily
Dinner: 530pm to 1030pm daily

Halal status: Post-MUIS audit, pending certification!
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90), Prawn Curry with Pineapple (S$21.90), Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90), Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90)

 

Take Hyde Out (Formerly Hyde & Co) on North Bridge Road

Take Hyde Out
785 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198753
Tel: +65 6635 5785
Online menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Sun-Mon: 12pm to 6pm
Wed-Sat: 12pm to 1030pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~$31 
Recommended dishes: Xiao Jiji/Chicken Little ($16.90), Hyde’s Chilli Crab Pasta (S$22.90)

Hey guys! How’s everyone doing? Hope you guys enjoyed your weekend and the week has been going okay so far.

I went to check out the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the National Gallery again on Sunday and thankfully it was a lot more pleasant than my first experience during opening weekend. Don’t get me wrong; there were still loads of Instagram boyfriends taking photos of their girlfriends’ backs as these girlfriends pretended to admire the paintings (UGHHH I feel like a crotchety old woman saying this but I can’t even deal with those photos.) BUT at least one didn’t encounter them at every turn; maybe 2-3 of those per gallery, instead of literally everywhere.

Pumpkin – 1981

There’s just something so profoundly satisfying about her pumpkins in all their overripe poofiness, and I really liked some of her paintings too! You guys should check out the exhibition if you haven’t already – tickets for Singaporeans run at $15, and I highly recommend buying online and then collecting at the much-shorter priority/pre-booking line at the National Gallery. The exhibition runs till 3 Sep 2017!

So that was my Sunday, but on Saturday I was running some errands with my mum at Arab St and we decided to have lunch at Hyde & Co, except that now they’re calling themselves Take Hyde Out after some rebranding. The decor has also changed a little bit – now the walls are grey instead of creamy white, and the vibe is a little more modern than country.

Take Hyde Out - Decor 2

More industrial, less “pretty”

Take Hyde Out - Decor

You can check out their online menu here, but also I took pictures of it here:

Take Hyde Out - Menu 2

Main menu

Take Hyde Out - Menu 2

Brunch Menu

So they added more pastas and pizzas to the menu, compared with the old one which you can check out in my previous review here.

Thankfully old favourites are still around, such as the prawn paste chicken and waffles, renamed to Xiao Jiji / Chicken Little (S$16.90), which my friend told me informally meant small dick 😦 Anyway it came with 3 strips of prawn paste chicken, 3 waffles, a sunny side up and shoestring fries:

Take Hyde Out - Chicken and Waffles

Xiao Jiji / Chicken Little (S$16.90) – 9.5/10

OK you guys. I just loved this so, so much. I LOVE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES! I think I only know Take Hyde Out and Citrus By The Pool for having it, but perhaps there are more I do not know of. Anyway, Take Hyde Out’s version is the bomb dot com. The chicken is pungent (needs to be, or it’s not prawn paste), flavourful, savoury, juicy and delightfully crispy on the outside. I think they must use thigh meat because it’s just so juicy and tender. The waffles were also perfect – crisp with some chewiness within, and perfectly complemented by the maple syrup.

The fries were a little desiccated, and I wish the egg had been a proper runny sunny side up, but honestly I’m happy with just the chicken, waffles and maple syrup. The egg and fries are just a bonus. And all this for $16.90 with no added GST or service charge?! WHAT A STEAL. 9.5/10

My mum had the Hyde’s Chilli Crab Pasta (S$22.90) which featured linguine in spicy arrabiata sauce with blue swimmer crab, topped with herbed panko:

Take Hyde Out - Hyde's Chilli Crab Pasta

Hyde’s Chili Crab Pasta (S$22.90) – 9.5/10 (sorry for the over-exposure also lol)

Mmmm I had a couple of forkfuls of this pasta and it is still delectable. I found that the colour wasn’t as vibrant and red as the version that The Halia makes, but what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste! I found the sauce perfectly balanced – spicy, savoury and sweet all at once. The serving of crab meat was also pretty generous, and the linguine was perfectly al dente, so that was great. 9.5/10

On top of the two mains, we also ordered the Pulled Beef Mantou (S$8.90 for 3 pieces) as my mum was curious to try after reading my earlier review of it:

Take Hyde Out - Pulled Beef Mantou

Pulled Beef Mantou sliders (S$8.90 for 3) – unreviewed because I didn’t have it

I’m afraid I do not have an updated review of these pulled beef mantou sliders because I was really working hard on my prawn paste chicken and waffles – you saw how big the serving was!! I couldn’t even finish the whole thing and had to ask to take the remainder to go. By the way, it costs you an additional 50cts to pack your food. A little unusual but I guess I understand the rationale behind it.

Anyway so no review of the pulled beef mantou; just the photo, although my mum liked it enough (“the bun’s a little oily though”).

Oh one thing to highlight – they changed the presentation of the Cold Brew Teas from this:

Hyde & Co - Into The Woods Drink

The old Into The Woods tea – so pretty, but so little

…to this!

Take Hyde Out - Cold Brew Teas

The new Into The Woods and Alice in Wonderland teas (S$6.50) each.

As you can see, the presentation is a little less “precious” and a little more practical – my one gripe was that we got so little actual tea in the previous incarnation, so this new version with a regular big glass was welcome.

So that was my review of the new Take Hyde Out – still madly in love with the prawn paste chicken and waffles and still loving the Chilli Crab pasta. I kind of latch on to one thing on the menu after I find myself liking it a lot, so I’m not sure if I’ll have the pizza when I’m back next, but we shall see!

Also good to note that this place does not have GST or service charge! You place your order at the counter and make a payment before eating (NETS or cash-only please!), and water/cutlery is self-service, but it’s a small-enough cafe for that not to be a problem. The staff are also great and will patiently take you through the menu and make some recommendations if you need.

Take Hyde Out
785 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198753
Tel: +65 6635 5785
Online menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Sun-Mon: 12pm to 6pm
Wed-Sat: 12pm to 1030pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~$31 
Recommended dishes: Xiao Jiji/Chicken Little ($16.90), Hyde’s Chilli Crab Pasta (S$22.90)

Citrus By The Pool at Woodlands Swimming Complex

Citrus By The Pool
3 Woodlands Street 12
3-3A Woodlands Swimming Complex
Singapore 738600
Tel: +65 6366 6581

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 11am to 11pm
Sat-Sun: 9am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Molten Chocolate Lava Cake (S$10.90), Sweet Potato Fries (S$7.50), Homemade mushroom soup (S$5.50), Da Burger Bomb (S$11.90)

Hey guys! First of all a belated SELAMAT HARI RAYA TO ALLS YALL!!! How was your Raya!! I guess by last weekend everyone was pretty much done with major open houses and visiting (I know I was so done by end of last weekend). My first couple of weeks were pretty tiring because we hosted so much more this year compared to last year, and my hands were pretty chapped from constant dishwashing lol (I hate washing dishes with gloves on eww). I also doubled down on the baking this year – I made honey cornflakes, chocolate chip cookies, and choc chip + cornflake meringue. Not gonna lie, it’s so tiring but I’m also super kembang (lol like puffed up, or self-congratulatory) when my relatives say they’re good! (Also my horrible brothers finishing them off is a good sign I suppose).

So are you guys excited about Game of Thrones Season 7?!?!? I’m so excited I could die. I’ve been watching all kinds of YouTube videos as a primer lol here are some of my favourites:

Basically just check out ALL Alt Shift X’s videos and subscribe to their channel omg.

OK ANYWAY so a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a tasting at Citrus By The Pool, to try out their new menu. Some of you might know that this was the first outlet, followed by the second one called Citrus Bistro located at Sengkang Sports Complex.

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Woodlands_Sports_Hall

The entrance of Citrus By The Pool is exactly opposite the Woodlands Sports Hall!

The decor of the place is great! Warm lights lend a cosy feel to the interior:

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Interior

Here is a look at the menu, which included the new items we were going to try:

 

 

So first of all we tried the Homemade Pumpkin Soup (S$5.50):

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Pumpkin_Soup

Homemade Pumpkin Soup (S$5.50) – 6.5/10

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Homemade_Pumpkin_Soup

I LOVE pumpkin soup, and the Royals Steakhouse does a pretty good job. This one was not terrible, but I thought the soup was a little bland. I would’ve preferred it slightly tastier, and with a thicker consistency. 6.5/10

The Homemade Mushroom Soup (S$5.50) though was great!

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Homemade_Mushroom_Soup

Homemade Mushroom Soup (S$5.50) – 9/10

Definitely in no danger of wading into Campbell Mushroom Soup territory, this homemade soup is creamy, savoury and wholesome. I nothing croutons, like if they’re there I’ll eat them; if they’re not I never ever miss them, but that was a nice touch. 9/10

We moved on to the Sweet Potato Fries (S$7.50), which comes with a choice of two dips from a selection of Salted Egg, Wasabi Mayo, Spicy Mayo, or Curry Mayo:

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Sweet_Potato_Fries

Sweet Potato Fries (S$7.50) – 9.5/10

OK so some of you might know, I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potato fries; like I’m not going to scan a menu and look past the regular fries, or the truffle fries, or the chilli con carne fries and be all “omg sweet potato fries let’s get those!” BUT. These were really great. Maybe they air-fried these or whatever but the fries were really crisp and light on the outside and super fluffy on the inside!!

For the purpose of this tasting we were given all 4 sauces to try, although on a regular order guests can choose 2. I’d definitely recommend the wasabi mayo and the curry mayo, yum! The salted egg mayo was really prohibitively salty, like I LOVE salt egg yolk but this straight up tasted like the white parts of a salted egg. Which I always leave untouched lol. The spicy mayo also had this strange aftertaste; can’t quite describe it but let’s just say my 2 favourites were wasabi and curry. The thing to note though is that these fries were already so good I’d be totally fine eating them on their own! You know like regular fries can be a little bland and require sauce to jazz em up? Well sweet potato fries are already slightly sweet so they’re def ok to eat on their own. 9.5/10

We moved on to Da Burger Bomb (S$11.90) featuring teriyaki chicken burger with cheese, a sunny side up egg, lettuce, and tomatoes served with a side of (regular) fries:

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Da_Burger_Bomb2

Da Burger Bomb (S$11.90) – 8.5/10

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Da_Burger_Bomb_Cross-Section

UNFF I love burger cross-sections

My first thoughts were “Ooh I love this the burger is so juicy!” followed rapidly by “did McDonalds also have a teriyaki burger last time because I feel like this is low-key invoking memories of said burger?!” So yes as promised on the menu, the teriyaki chicken was indeed succulent, so bravo, Citrus chefs. I liked the teriyaki flavour which was slightly sweet, slightly savoury, without overpowering the burger. My friend said she would’ve preferred if they had seared the buns a little in butter. I agree, but the burger’s still good with plain buns! A solid 8.5/10.

I was mad excited to try the next dish that came – the Fried Chicken and Waffle (S$10.90) featuring boneless fried chicken on a waffle, served with butter and a shot of maple syrup:

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Fried_Chicken_Waffles

Fried Chicken & Waffle (S$10.90) – 8/10

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Chicken_Waffle

Look how appetising this issssss 

 

OK so I LOVE fried chicken and waffles, what a bomb-ass combo (ok but as a Muslim should I really be throwing around the B-word without a care in the world 🤔). The chicken was really perfectly fried – super good crunch without tasting too oily. However, I did find that it was a little bland and could have been better-seasoned. Having prawn paste chicken could remedy that, although the price might have to increase! Another solution would be to serve with some sort of spicy-sweet combo, like sriracha maple syrup or something. That would be delishhhh. Still though the main thing is the chicken should’ve been more flavourful.

The waffle was chewy and sweet, and I liked it a lot with the chicken. My friend commented it was like waffles made from Kueh Keria LOL and you know what? Once he mentioned that I realised he was kind of right! It was pretty cool and different from plain old tasteless waffle. 8/10

Next up we tried the Salted Egg Seafood Pasta (S$12.90) featuring linguine in creamy salted egg sauce with scallops and shrimp:

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Salted_Egg_Seafood_Pasta

Salted Egg Seafood Pasta (S$12.90) – 8/10

Ooh we were a little apprehensive about this especially as the sweet potato fries salted egg dip was not our favourite, but this was pretty good! The salted egg flavour was solid thanks to the curry leaves and chilli padi. The scallops were a wee bit lacking in taste, but the shrimp were good. A decent offering at 8/10.

Finally for the main dishes, we tried out the Seafood Risotto (S$16.90) which came with loads of seafood such as squid, prawns, scallops and mussels:

 

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Seafood_Risotto

Seafood Risotto (S$16.90) – 6/10

Ok guys I was actually super excited to try this, because YUM I love risotto. However, I have to say I was really disappointed in this version for a few reasons. Firstly, it tasted like regular rice with some gravy on it. Nooooooo 😦 If you look at the picture, the rice looks pretty skinny like long-grain, whereas risotto rice is usually of the rounder, short-grain variety, allowing for better absorption of liquids and flavours. Secondly, the scallops and squid were really rather tasteless. Perhaps a bit more of a char on them would’ve made them better or just better seasoning maybe. I also find the prawn head twin towers a little imposing; some of the best risottos I’ve had have been served in the simplest of presentations, without fancy accoutrements like this. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE sucking on prawn heads (YA I KNOW OMG don’t be like my doctor), but maybe just lay ’em down. 6/10

Phew, so after all that food we finally moved on to dessert, which was the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake (S$10.90):

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Chocolate_Lava_Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake (S$10.90) – 10/10

 

Yes this is delicious, just like the one at Citrus Bistro. I mean, what else can I say – the cake is moist and warm, the molten chocolate lava within is like liquid ecstasy (the feeling, NOT the pills.)

 

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Molten_Chocolate_Lava_Cake

UNFFFFFF SO GOOOOOOOOODDDDD

Yes this is delicious, just like the one at Citrus Bistro. I mean, what else can I say – the cake is moist and warm, the molten chocolate lava within is like liquid ecstasy (the feeling! NOT the pills.) and tastes so, so good. It’s thick and sweet but not too sweet. The vanilla ice cream and strawberries are there to refresh the palette with something cool and tangy if you need a break from all that chocolatey goodness. 10/10 for sure. No question.

Phew so that was our meal at Citrus By The Pool! Overall I had a good time and really enjoyed most of the new menu items that we had. We were very comfortable in our corner by the window, and also super grateful for the air-conditioning as the evening started off pretty warm and humid. How great is it that more and more swimming pools/sports complex are having decent halal options these days! I remember back in the day having to eat like soggy nuggets and super salty fishball sticks lol. I mean I was a kid with no broad base for comparison so those were fine back then, but dayummmm the youth these days are lucky. Plus the price points are very reasonable at Citrus By The Pool, so I think it’s a great option for decent food without breaking the bank.

Citrus By The Pool
3 Woodlands Street 12
3-3A Woodlands Swimming Complex
Singapore 738600
Tel: +65 6366 6581

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 11am to 11pm
Sat-Sun: 9am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Molten Chocolate Lava Cake (S$10.90), Sweet Potato Fries (S$7.50), Homemade mushroom soup (S$5.50), Da Burger Bomb (S$11.90)

Noosh Noodle Bar and Grill at The Esplanade

Noosh Halal Noodle Bar and Grill
8 Raffles Avenue
#01-13B Esplanade Mall Annexe
Singapore 039802
Reservations: +65 6755 4225

Opening Hours
Mon – Thu: 12pm – 12am
Fri: 3pm – 1am
Sat: 12pm – 1am
Sun: 12pm – 10pm
Eve of PH: 12pm – 1am

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 7.5/10
Average spend per pax: S$40

Recommended dishes: Curly Fries with Bacon & Cheese (S$12.90)

Hey guys! Have you tried Noosh Noodle Bar and Grill at the Esplanade? I know I’m a little late to the party but I just tried them for the first time last night! I’d heard good things about it and had been meaning to visit, especially since I’m actually at the Esplanade quite a bit either to go to the library or to catch a play/concert.

Noosh Noodle Bar and Grill was opened by well-known restaurateur Ummi Abdullah of Ambeng Cafe fame, and I personally love the concept because I LOVE noodles (unless they’re the yellow, very alkaline type noodles that haven’t been properly cooked, eww). Here is a look at their menu:

We called to make reservations on the same day and were told to choose between the 630pm or 830pm seating, so of course we chose the 630pm one, which gave us just enough time to peruse the menu, place our orders in time for them to arrive right at 713pm LOL.

We started with the tantalizing Curly Fries with Bacon and Cheese (S$12.90), which featured crisp golden curly fries topped with nacho cheese, sour cream, beef bacon and spring onions:

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Curly_Fries_Cheese_Bacon

Curly Fries With Bacon & Cheese (S$12.90) – 9/10

OOOFFFFFF you guys, this was really good. I LOVE CURLY FRIES SO MUCH ugh. These ones were crispy, savoury and fluffy on the inside. I did think the nacho cheese was a little too overwhelming – I don’t want my golden crisp fries drenched in nacho cheese, but that is just a personal preference. I also thought the beef bacon bits could have been either crispier, or more meaty… does that make sense? Like if they’re going to have small bits of it, I’d prefer for them to be crispy. If they’re not crispy, they better be bigger pieces so we can savour them still. 9/10

For my main, I had the Smoked Duck Lemak Chili Padi Pasta (S$18.90) which had a generous serving of smoked duck slices and spaghetti in the super savoury coconut-based gravy, topped with fresh arugula and sweet cherry tomatoes:

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Smoked_Duck_Lemak_Chili_Padi

Smoked Duck Lemak Chili Padi Pasta (S$18.90) – 7.5/10

Mm when I first saw the heap of arugula leaves I thought “ok that’s weird why so much”. It was only after a few bites of the fiery pasta that I realised that, oh boy, I needed that much arugula leaves to counter the spiciness of the sauce. Hurray for sensible pairing! I liked the taste of the lemak chili padi gravy enough, but I thought the duck was a little mushy and I could barely discern the smoked flavour of the duck meat, which was probably overpowered by the strong lemak taste.

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Smoked_Duck_Lemak_Pasta

Shoved some of the arugula away so you can see the actual stuff underneath

I usually prefer my smoked duck to be a little juicier and with a little more bite, whereas this one seemed a little… I don’t know how to describe it – lumpy? Like a regular slice of mushy chicken breast. Great quantity but the quality could be improved slightly. 7.5/10

My friend had the Spicy Beef Ramyeon (S$16.90) which featured ramen noodles with bulgogi beef, braised in Korean hot bean paste.

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Spicy_Beef_Ramyeon

Spicy Beef Ramyeon (S$16.90) – 7/10

Firstly, loved the ramen eggs with the soft, half-cooked yolk. Crazy about it, yes. Secondly, yum the braised bulgogi beef was delicious, tender, and juicy. Thirdly and unfortunately, I found the broth a little too thick:

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Spicy_Beef_Ramen

Look at how murky the broth is omg it’s so lethal

I like my ramen broth a little thinner, especially if you’re going to make it so spicy (which this one was). Thick and spicy is just a little too much for me to handle. The broth just was not to my liking and I don’t think I will be ordering this in future. Personal preference though, so if you guys like what you just read, go for it! 7/10

For dessert, we weren’t really feeling the heavy ondeh-ondeh cake that everyone raves about online, so we went for the White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Berries Coulis (S$9.90).

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_White_Chocolate_Panna_Cotta

White Chocolate Panna Cotta With Berries Coulis (S$9.90) – 6/10

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Pannacotta_Berries_Coulis

Oof I can feel the tartness at the back of my jaw

Oh boy, the berries coulis was just a little too tart for me and my friend. It almost tasted medicinal. Luckily the panna cotta was sweet enough to balance out the flavour, but basically we did not enjoy the coulis very much. I also felt that the Panna Cotta texture was a little off – it was too thick and a little like eating white chocolate fudge. Panna cotta should ideally be silky smooth and just firm – with a gentle wobble (in the words of writer Domenica Marchetti), and this was a little too dense. 6/10

So a dinner of hits and misses, but I will definitely want to come back and try the rest of the menu! I’m sure if I try a few more dishes I’ll figure out which ones suit my taste and which ones don’t.

So that’s it for food, but I do have some not-great comments about customer-service here, starting with the fact that service was super inattentive. I was sat close to the corner of the restaurant and it was so, so challenging trying to catch their attention. The hallmark of good customer service is when you realise that you might miss customers sat in the corner (your corner, of your restaurant, that you sat your customers at) and so you eyeball the room regularly to see if anyone is trying to catch your attention, even the poor corner table. There were a few staff and they were mostly huddled in their employees’ corner – maybe they were eating their dinner also, I’m not sure, but so were we (eating, that is) and it was distressing having to wait for “when they give that table their food” before trying to hijack their attention. It should not be that hard.

Another thing – my friend and I were given only one fork between the two of us and it took so long to get their attention I eventually got up and went to the nearest staff. When I asked “Hi could I get a fork?” she unsmilingly walked over to the cutlery station behind the counter, took it out, and wordlessly handed it back to me. It was weird.

Also when we asked if they charged for water, they said “yes $1 but it’s refillable”. I hate when places charge for water, but ok fine it’s refillable so I guess it’s not so bad. However because of the inattentiveness of the staff, my glass was never refilled. It was just so hard to get their attention that when I did get their attention it was for things like “can we get our dessert now” and “can we get the bill” and I clean forgot to ask for a refill. Not topping up your refillable $1 water is by no means a cardinal customer service sin or anything, but let me just say some places that serve water for free actually survey the room at regular intervals to see whose water glasses needed topping up.

Lastly, I was very disappointed they didn’t offer a prayer corner of some sort here, especially since (a) they are a Muslim-owned restaurant, (b) this is Ramadan, (c) they limited the seatings to 630pm or 830pm, meaning I couldn’t reserve for say 730 after finishing Maghrib prayers, and (d) the nearest mushollah was all the way in Marina Square carpark on the other side of the mall away from the Esplanade side.

My pregnant friend and I had to eat our food quickly and then rush over to Marina Square and navigate the confusing annexes/wings to get to the mushollah. We literally made it to the mushollah with 5 minutes of Maghrib to spare, so I guess this story has a happy ending. Still, I really, really wish they would just dedicate a 2m x 1m space for a sejadah for diners to pray Maghrib so we wouldn’t need to rush our meal which we would’ve preferred to savour, especially since it isn’t the cheapest.

Disappointing as the service was though, I will probably still go back to give the staff another chance, and try the other stuff on the menu. I really, really hope it was just an off day or something for them ugh.

Noosh Halal Noodle Bar and Grill
8 Raffles Avenue
#01-13B Esplanade Mall Annexe
Singapore 039802
Reservations: +65 6755 4225

Opening Hours
Mon – Thu: 12pm – 12am
Fri: 3pm – 1am
Sat: 12pm – 1am
Sun: 12pm – 10pm
Eve of PH: 12pm – 1am

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 7.5/10
Average spend per pax: S$40

Recommended dishes: Curly Fries with Bacon & Cheese (S$12.90)