El Cubanos at Short St (Selegie)

El Cubanos
1A Short St #01-01
Singapore 188210
Tel: +65 9162 5540

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 12pm to 11pm
Sat: 4pm to 1am
Closed on Sundays

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 10/10
Average spend per pax: S$11 including a drink
Recommended dishes: Signature Pulled Beef Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.80), Grilled Chicken Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.50)

WHERE DID THE WEEKEND GO YOU GUYS 😭😭. I always dream of having a super nua stay-in weekend where I sequester myself at home and get my life in order, like do some laundry, tidy up, maybe go for a run, take naps, and get caught up on my favourite TV shows. For some reason it never happens and I always end up going out. Half of me is just this lazy homebody, and the other half always has major #FOMO ugh.

Anyway this weekend I managed to squeeze in a couple of brunches, did two loads of laundry AND blazed through 5 episodes of Stranger Things Season 2 omg. HAVE YOU GUYS WATCHED IT?! It’s so great.

You know what’s also great though? THE SANDWICHES FROM EL CUBANOS 👅💦😭💯.

El_Cubanos_Pulled_Beef_Signature

Just look at this.

My friend and I meet up for lunch once every couple of weeks and we usually try a halal place that’s anywhere between our two offices. Couple weeks ago it was The Big Cheese (review to come!), and this week it was El Cubanos!

Located just off Selegie Road at 1A Short St, El Cubanos serves up Cuban-style pressed sandwiches as their specialty. Think grilled cheese panini but with a generous serving of meats as well. SO SO GOOD.

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The El Cubanos Storefront

Here is the menu display at the shop:

El_Cubanos_Menu

“Good people serving good food to make you feel good” – I a hundred percent support

I had the Signature Pulled Beef Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.80), which featured a pressed pulled beef and cheese sandwich with jalapeños, served with a side of cajun fries:

El_Cubanos_Pulled_Beef_Cajun_Fries

Signature Pulled Beef Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.80) – 10/10!!! ❤️

OK not even kidding but the first bite was transcendental. I still remember it so, so vividly. The bread was crisp on the outside, and the pulled beef within was just so tender and flavourful and cheesy. It was really sublime, and I recall just melting into a delirium of sounds as I consumed the rest of the sandwich.

UGHHHHH the beef was really so juicy and there were heaps of it too in the sandwich. There were a couple of jalapeño slices adding mild heat. Also loved the fries with the savoury Cajun seasoning. They reminded me of 4 Fingers fries in terms of texture. But of course it was the Cuban sandwich that stole the show. 10/10

My friend got the Spiced Up Grilled Chicken Cubanos with Cajun Fries ($8.50) in extra spicy:

El_Cubanos_Spiced_Up_Grilled_Chicken_Cubanos

Spiced Up Grilled Chicken Cubano (S$8.50) on top, Signature Pulled Beef Cubano (S$8.80) below.

So my friend and I swapped one half of our sandwiches with each other’s so we could have the best of both worlds. I really liked the grilled chicken version too, except that it somehow had more onion inside. Also pulled beef is way shreddier and juicier so I’m giving this grilled chicken cubano a 9.5/10.

The both of us left the place feeling thoroughly satisfied and also kicking ourselves for not having discovered it way earlier! Literally, we were texting later that Friday about how we were still thinking about the sandwich. Next morning, he joked that he “dreamt he was eating the cubano and woke up to find his pillow gone” LOLLLL DEAD. Seriously, I was thinking about it all weekend and we’ve already fixed another date later this week to go again 😀

Service is pleasant, the ambience is terrific (look at all the Cuban photographs and paraphernalia adorning the walls!) and they have good Cuban/Latin music to put you in the mood. I went to Cuba in 2015 and being here just brings me right back. It makes me wonder if we have any sort of Cuban expat (exiles?! ok maybe émigrés.) here in Singapore because if so I hope they know about this place.

YOU GUYS HAVE TO VISIT!!!

El_Cubanos_Shirt

Getting sassed by this t-shirt.

El_Cubanos_Signature_Pulled_Beef_Sandwich

Post swap: Chicken cubano on top, pulled beef cubano below

El Cubanos
1A Short St #01-01
Singapore 188210
Tel: +65 9162 5540

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 12pm to 11pm
Sat: 4pm to 1am
Closed on Sundays

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 10/10
Average spend per pax: S$11 including a drink
Recommended dishes: Signature Pulled Beef Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.80), Grilled Chicken Cubano with Cajun Fries (S$8.50)

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Saltwater Cafe Buffet at Changi Village Hotel

Saltwater Cafe
1 Netheravon Road
Changi Village Hotel Level 1
Singapore 508502
Phone Reservations: +65 6379 7017
Online Reservations: click here

Opening Hours
630pm to 10pm daily for buffet dinner

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Buffet price: S$39++ per pax for Mon-Thu (without the Chill & Grill), or S$48++ per pax for Fri-Sun (with the Chill & Grill)

Recommended dishes: Snow crab legs, fresh oysters, salmon sashimi, nyonya stingray, salted egg crab, pengat durian, bread pudding

GUYSSSS why has work (and life in general) been so stressful this month?! I swear I legit had several of those moments where I wish I were 5 again with barely any responsibilities. Except for attending K1 classes I guess. I remember once in class we were supposed to draw a bus based on this cartoon picture the teacher gave us. It was a shot of the bus from the front – but at a slight angle – so you could see part of the body off to the side. I absolutely could NOT deal with the spatial aspects of drawing a 3-D bus, so I just drew a 2D bus – a bus profile, if you will. It was the saddest thing ever 😦

Also, this past week has seen the release of six extracts from Malaysian-born billionaire Robert Kuok’s memoirs on South China Morning Post! They’re fascinating – you guys should check it out here.

Finally on to food – have you guys heard of halal-certified Saltwater Cafe at Changi Village Hotel? I hadn’t heard of it but I was recently invited to try out their dinner buffet so off I went!

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Entrance

I was there to try the Weekend Chill & Grill dinner buffet featuring an international spread as well as a live grill station outside the cafe!

Saltwater_Buffet_Chill_Grill

Chill & Grill Options

So let me take you through the spread that evening.

I) COLD STARTERS

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Mussels_Prawns

Mussels and fresh prawns omg look how plump!!

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Snow_Crab_Legs

Giant snow crab legs!!

Saltwater_Buffet_Oysters

A super blurry photo of the oysters because I was way too excited!!

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They have these nifty crab scissors for you to cut through the snow crab legs!! And a bowl of lemon water for you to rinse your hand with – you can get them replaced every time it gets dirty, but also there’s a bathroom right after the entrance of the cafe, on the inside! One needn’t worry about switching from hand-food to cutlery-food and back!

OK so this was my first plate:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Seafood_Sashimi

Plump prawns, ONE mussel, fresh oysters, snow crab leg and some pickled ginger peeking out from the bottom of the picture.

Cold starters verdict: I died and went to seafood heaven, basically. The prawns were super plump and juicy, I couldn’t get enough of them. I tried one mussel which was a bit of a non-event. The oysters were a little thin, i.e. not as plump as I would’ve preferred but they were still decent!! I LOVED the snow crab legs – the flesh was slightly salty and really succulent.  9.5/10

II) Salads, Sushi & Sashimi

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Beef_Octopus_Salad

So much carrot on the beef salad ugh no. Octopus salad looked interesting though.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Salads

Mozzarella looks enticing!

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Assorted_Sushi

Assorted sushi! There was also salmon sashimi but I forgot to take an individual picture of the sashimi 😦 You guys can check out pictures of my first plate tho where there are a few slices of sash.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Wasabi_Sashimi

Essentials. Also I LOVE pickled ginger!!!

Salads and sushi verdict: OK first of all I’m SO sorry I forgot to take a photo of the salmon sashimi 😭 I was too excited to eat them!! Secondly, I mean, I literally skipped all the salads and even the sushi. I straight up just had like 10 slices of salmon sashimi 😩👅💦 DEF loved the salmon sashimi which were fresh and pretty good!

III) Mains

I found myself quite impressed with how the buffet had a variety of main dishes to cater to different tastes. Literally, there was every kind of protein – mutton, beef, chicken, fish, duck, and of course, CRAB.

OK this is where I confess I ignored absolutely everything else in the mains line up and zeroed in on the crab like it was a Walmart TV set on Black Friday.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Salted_Egg_Crab

Salted egg crab omg!! DELISHUSSSSSSSS.

It was worth it. The salted egg crab sauce was creamy, salty, and sweet all at once. It’s got bits of curry leaves which of course are the magic ingredient in every salted egg sauce worth… its… salt. (OK you can call the pun police on me for this offence.)

Towards the end of my meal, when I’d had my fill of seafood, I also tried the oxtail stew:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Oxtail_Stew2

Oxtail stew yum yum

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Oxtail_Stew

Mmmm glistening

The oxtail stew was pretty good!! The carrots were soft and juicy, and the oxtail meat was rather succulent. I did think the stew would’ve been better if it had been more heated up, but that’s me. I love piping hot soup. The higher your chances of going to the A&E with a semi-cooked oesophagus, the better. (Please don’t report me I swear I’m not crazy).

Here’s all the other dishes:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Mutton_Curry

Oof mutton curry looks legit. It’s like midnight right now as I’m typing this, fully regretting not eating it during the buffet 😭😭

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Baked cajun chicken! I did not realise cajun cooking looked like this.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Baked_Cajun_Chicken

This looks crazy tasty.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Teriyaki_Fish

Teriyaki fish with so, so many cherry tomatoes

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Braised_Duck_Main

Wow these braised ducks look so taut and shiny

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A closer look at that sheen on them braised ducks

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Why are the broccolis so underrepresented here? I so much prefer them to cauliflower fr.

Saltwater_Buffet_Wok_Fried_Beehoon

Wok-fried bee hoon, but seriously, who can spare the stomach space for this?

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Dried_Shrimp_Rice

OK this looked more appetizing than the bee hoon so I tried literally a spoonful of it. It was aiiight.

Mains Verdict: Great variety for everyone, although the highlight for me definitely was the salted egg crab!!! They really got the sauce right for this one.

IV) The Chill & Grill Station

So every Fri-Sun, the buffet includes a Chill & Grill station outside where fresh meats, seafood, and vegetables are grilled on-site by the restaurant chefs. I LOVE that you get to pick whatever food you want to be grilled at the counter, leave your table number with the staff, and then have the food delivered to your table once they’re cooked. It’s a great system and it’s just the best.

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Items available for grilling

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A truly terrible photo of the beef tomahawk steak, I’m so sorry

Here’s what I had from the Chill & Grill section:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Grilled

Clockwise from left: Tomahawk steak, scallops, tiger prawns, lamb chop

So for me, the tiger prawns were the star of the grill station. And okay I think all the non-seafood lovers have long since given up on this review lol. SORRY GUYS. I love seafood so much 😭. For real though the prawns were just really fresh so it doesn’t take much beyond some simple grilling to make them taste good.

The lamb chops were also really juicy and flavourful even without any additional sauce. Special mention also goes to the grilled asparagus (not pictured lol) which still had decent snap while being really tasty.

Although I looked forward to trying the tomahawk steak, I was a little let down. The steak was quite dry! I had ordered it in medium, and while I thought it looked pink enough (ref picture below), it just was not juicy :/ I also couldn’t find mustard anywhere to go with the beef – when I asked one of the staff near the grill, he said “all the sauces are inside.” I couldn’t find it though, which was sad.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Medium_Tomahawk_Steak

The tomahawk steak – even from here you can see it’s a little dry, no?

The scallops here take a major L for tasting as insipid as they looked. Boy they really should’ve grilled them with some butter or something. Butter hotate is for real my fave. To be fair, there are plenty of condiments available for you to flavour your food, but I don’t know I prefer natural jus with basic salt/pepper/butter when it comes to grilling. (Unless you’re talking about satay because that’s a whole other thing).

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Asian_Sauces

Sambal belacan, asian BBQ sauce, Thai chilli sauce and belacan cincalok!

Speaking of cincalok, it’s usually really good with SAMBAL STINGRAY, and guess what at the al fresco Chill & Grill station there was also a platter of nyonya stingray:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Stingray

The picture is ugly but the stingray is DELICIOUS trust me.

Guys, I mean. The portion was just phenomenal and I took as much as I could while trying not to ruin my appetite for everything else. The sauce wasn’t exactly like the kind you have in sambal stingray – this one was rather spicy and lightly sour thanks to the pineapples. Very, very yummy. The stingray flesh itself was plump, fresh and delightful to bite into.

Chill & Grill Station Verdict: Hits and misses. DEF go for the tiger prawns, lamb chops, grilled asparagus, and the nyonya stingray. Maybe give the scallops a miss.

V) DIY Food Stations

So they had a laksa station, a rojak station, as well as a kueh pie tee station where you can DIY your own serving and put in as much of each ingredient as you want! Out of these three, I only tried the laksa:

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Laksa_Station

I LOVE QUAIL EGGS IN EVERYTHING UGHHHHHH

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Laksa

LAKSAAAAA

Okay I was a little disappointed with this laksa – the gravy was too thick and not tasty enough. It fell a little flat for me. However I did still enjoy it because I love all laksa and fishcake and quail’s eggs and taupok lol.

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Kueh_Pie_Tee_Info

Nodding while doing this 🤔

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Kueh_Pie_Tee

That jar cover was really the one thing standing in the way of making my own kueh pie tee. It’s one effort too many to lift that up and try to put it aside somewhere.

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Rojak Station! Also efforttttttt.

Saltwater_Buffet_Rojak_Ingredients

Ingredients for the rojak

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Rojak_Station

I actually really love rojak sauce ugh but idk the ingredients did not look too inspiring so I strategically left this out.

DIY Stations verdict: Fun for those who like to feel like they’re cooking, or like they’re in control of whatever they’re eating. Otherwise, I’d give them a miss in favour of other more delicious food! (Like a second helping of the cold seafood dishes, which I totally went for).

VI) Dessert Selection

The dessert selection was quite extensive!! They had lots of mini cakes, nyonya kuehs, asian desserts as well as western offerings like bread pudding! There was also some ice cream but I also did not remember to take a photo :/ I was too distracted and excited by the other desserts!

Saltwater_Cafe_Buffet_Pengat_Durian

Pengat Durian – truly the jewel in the dessert crown at Saltwater

LOVEDDDD the pengat durian so so much!! In case you guys didn’t know, pengat durian is made from simmering durian pulp in coconut milk and fresh milk, together with some pandan leaves and gula melaka thrown in. I’m not usually a big fan of durian derivatives (like durian ice cream eww bye) but thisssss was sooooo so good. WHY AM I TYPING THIS AT MIDNIGHT UGH NOW THIS IS ALL I WANT. It was sweet, a little bitter, and oh so so creamy.

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Assorted mini cakes that I didn’t get to try 😦

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Steamed cake and ang ku kueh which had a great peanutty filling but whose skin was a little tough

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Fruits!! I had a couple of slices just because. Even though I was bursting at the seams by this point.

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Clockwise from left: Caramel cheesecake YUMMMM, pengat durian (SUPER YUMMMM), assorted nyonya kuehs (I love peeling off the kueh lapis layer by layer unffff), and BREAD PUDDING that was really yummy!

Desserts verdict: LOVED IT. Loved the variety (I don’t need a chocolate fondue and other fancy stuff), and I was VERY happy with the pengat durian, the caramel cheesecake, and the bread pudding. Textures and tastes were on point.

Overall Saltwater Cafe buffet verdict: This restaurant is about as far east of Singapore as I am far west, but I had a really good time overall!! The spread is quite extensive, and all my basic buffet needs are met! – terrific cold seafood starters WITH OYSTERS – yassss. Crab of some sort – yasssss. Grilled red meat of some sort – yassss. A variety of dessert options – yassss. Done and done. In fact, I’ve already made plans to go eat with my friends when one of us comes back from London for winter break 😀

Service is good; we had a particularly helpful wait staff who replaced our handwash bowls, got us more napkins, and gave us extra cutlery etc. The place is not too crowded and can be pretty peaceful! It’s def not one of those places where the crab tray is left with only empty claws lol, h8 those.

I’ll leave you guys with pictures of my plates as a summary of my experience at Saltwater Cafe:

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Plate 1: COLD SEAFOOD STARTERS YASSSS

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Plate 2: Shrimp fried rice, nyonya stingray, grilled asparagus & salted egg crab. The latter three were TERRIF.

 

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Plate 3: Grilled stuff!

Plate 4 (not pictured): MORE COLD SEAFOOD STARTERS AND SASHIMI.

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Plate 5: Dessert!

 

Saltwater Cafe
1 Netheravon Road
Changi Village Hotel Level 1
Singapore 508502
Phone Reservations: +65 6379 7017
Online Reservations: click here

Opening Hours
630pm to 10pm daily for buffet dinner

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Buffet price: S$39++ per pax for Mon-Thu (without the Chill & Grill), or S$48++ per pax for Fri-Sun (with the Chill & Grill)

Recommended dishes: Snow crab legs, fresh oysters, salmon sashimi, nyonya stingray, salted egg crab, pengat durian, bread pudding

The Halia at Botanic Gardens’ Weekday Easy Breakfast

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 259569
Reservations: +65 8444 1148 or general.hsbg@halia.com.sg
Note: Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea
Weekday Easy Breakfast Menu: Click here
Ala Carte Menus: Click here

Opening Hours
Weekday Easy Breakfast: 9am to 11am Mon-Fri except PH
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 930pm (Last seating)
Fri & PH eve: 12pm to 10pm
Weekends & PH Dinner: 4pm to 10pm (Last seating)
Weekends & PH Brunch: 10am to 4pm
Weekends & PH Afternoon Tea: 3pm to 5pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Favourite Dishes: Chilli Crab Eggs (S$14), 62.5deg Poached Eggs (S$18), The Banana & Almond Drink (S$7) 

Okay so in my last post I totally forgot to ask – did you guys go for the Backstreet Boys concert two Saturdays ago?!?!?! I diddddd and it was great, although I truly preferred the one from 2015 because I felt they were fresher then. Plus the venue was the Star Performing Arts Centre at the Star Vista, which was smaller and much more intimate! They just seemed more tired this time, and Brian was struggling to get his voice out – it was kind of heartbreaking actually ugh. I think it’s their Vegas residency tiring them out! Did you guys know they’ll have to perform 26 shows within 1 year from Mar 2017 to Feb 2018? Pretty intense huh.

Anyway, they still managed to put up a good show and I had a memorable night with my girls! I hope it was just as fun for those of you who went, sauna feels notwithstanding.

Sooooooo I was invited to try the new Weekday Easy Breakfast menu at The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty tragic that I had to take AM leave for this menu that would only be accessible to folks living the dream and able to have leisurely breakfast outside in the morning, but ok no whining.

Again, you guys can check out the menu here.

We dove right in to the Chilli Crab & Eggs (S$14) which consisted of chilli crab dip with two 62.5 deg poached eggs and some crostinis for dipping:

The_Halia_Chilli_Crab_Eggs

Chilli Crab & Eggs (S$14) – 9.5/10

OMG guys this was actually my favourite item on their Weekday Easy Breakfast menu for real. The chilli crab dip was tangy, mildly spicy and came with a generous portion of crab meat. The sauce with the runny eggs and the crispy crostini made for a dream combination. I liked that because it was crostini rather than bread, it made the dish lighter and more suitable for breakfast. They probably should do a mantou option though for those more accustomed to heavier breakfasts!! UNFFF I love a good fluffy mantou bun. 9.5/10

On a side note, did you guys know that for their regular menu Chilli Crab Pasta, it is a little sweeter by default to cater to international tastebuds, but you can inform your waiter to make it a little spicier to suit your preference? I think I would def do that next time as I don’t like it quite as sweet.

Anyway we moved on to the 62.5 Deg Poached Eggs (S$18), feauring sautéed spinach, smoked capsicum & truffle salsa, and two perfectly poached eggs on top of a thick slice of toast:

The_Halia_Poached_Eggs

62.5 deg Poached Eggs (S$18) – 9/10

So 62.5deg is the precise temperature at which time the whites of the egg cooks, but not the yolk, so you get the runniest of eggs yummmmmm. And my friend is going to call me a basic brunch bish for liking this (you know who you are, Z) but I dooooo!! I loved the whole combination of runny eggs with the savoury sautéed spinach and the smokey salsa. It was balanced, nutritious, and delicious. A little bit steep for what it is though. 9/10

Next up was the Smashed Avocado on Toasted Sourdough (S$12 per slice/ $22 for 2 slices), consisting of avocado, tomatoes and feta cheese on a bed of sourdough:

The_Halia_Avocado_Toast

Smashed Avocado on Toasted Sourdough (S$12 per slice or $22 per 2 slices) – 6/10

Yet another millennial brunch staple, the avocado toast has gotten a pretty bad rep among the older folks of a more… crotchety disposition. Like the Australian millionaire who implied earlier this year that the younger generation can’t afford to buy property because they’re frittering their money away on fancy toasts and overpriced coffee (eyeroll). You guys can read all about it here lol.

BUT I LOVE AVOCADO TOAST! When done right, that is, and unfortunately I didn’t quite like The Halia’s version. The smashed avocado combined with the juices from the diced tomato to make the bread pretty soggy. Plus who wants that much tomato on their avocado toast, and in such giant chunks?! Please, no. The cut chilli with the feta cheese thankfully salvaged this dish from becoming a total mess. 6/10

Some side comments – the best avocado toast I’ve had was from Sydney – the avocados (and generally most produce) are just so, so fresh in Australia, and sliced rather than mashed. This version had some lime, chilli and coriander (my fave omg) so altogether it was pretty friggin delishussss.

We then had a selection of yet more Toast with a Trio of Spreads (S$12), consisting of  sourdough, baguette, brioche & focaccia, served with pineapple ginger jam, homemade kaya & honeycomb butter:

The_Halia_Toast

Toast with Trio of Spreads (S$12) – 6/10

OK I love toast, but I think we were so busy trying to take photos of the food that by the time I got around to eating it, the toast was pretty stale and not great. I can imagine though if they were still freshly toasted, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they would taste pretty good.

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L-R: Honeycomb butter, pineapple ginger jam, and homemade kaya

My favourite spread was for sure the pineapple ginger jam, which tasted a little like the pineapple tart jam, yum! Plus the hint of ginger spice prevented the spread from becoming too cloying. Not a big fan of the kaya which, while being fragrant, also possessed a slick texture not unlike mayo (which I really do not like). Pass on the kaya. The honeycomb butter was also not really to my liking. The texture felt like butter lite, or like whipped cream plus butter, and the taste wasn’t buttery enough to balance the sweetness from the honeycomb. Pass. 6/10

Another side note – my favourite butter ever is Pepe Saya butter which I tasted for the first time in Sydney a couple of years ago. UGH THE BEST. I always buy a couple of wheels back home with me when I go over for work.

Finally to close our savoury mains, we tried the Braised Wagyu Masala Beef (S$22), which is a playful rendition of Nasi Lemak, using wagyu beef for the ‘rendang’ and paprika hazelnuts instead of anchovies, served alongside coconut pandan rice and topped with a sunny side up!

The_Halia_Braised_Wagyu_Masala_Beef

Braised Wagyu Masala Beef – 6.5/10

Oh boy I had high hopes for this dish, particularly for the beef, but I found it quite a letdown. I thought the beef was a little dry and not as tender – I was really expecting some melt-in-your-mouth savoury deliciousness exploding in my mouth for real, but this was a little underwhelming. I really liked the sambal, thankfully – it’s made with gingerflower and was really light and tangy with just enough heat. I also dug the pickles on the side, those were really yummy too. I think once you get everything together in one spoonful, it’ll taste great, but the beef remains disappointing. 6.5/10

We moved on to the sweeter dishes starting with the Superfood Granola (S$12) with Greek yoghurt, poached blueberries, kiwis and honey:

The_Halia_Granola

Superfood Granola (S$12) – 9/10

The_Halia_Superfood_Granola

Mmmm i liked this a lot! The yoghurt wasn’t overly tart, and there were bits of chewy dried fruit within the granola for added texture/sweetness. You can sweeten the granola to suit your taste, so that’s good. Super delicious and nutritious. One thing though is that I thought S$12 for granola is a little steep, but I guess you can indulge once in a while. 9/10

Finally we tried the Organic Chia Seed Porridge (S$13) with strawberry and mango smoothie, fresh fruits, dried papaya and kiwi:

The_Halia_Organic_Chia_Seed_Porridge

Organic Chia Seed Porridge (S$13) – 5/10

Oof as a matter of personal taste I truly did not like this. It was just like mouthfuls of mush, and everything tasted like candy, so maybe both kids and their grandparents would have enjoyed this more haha. Jokes aside, this was def one of the weak points in their breakfast offerings to me. 5/10

ANYWAY the drinks were so good!!! My absolute fave was the Banana & Almond Drink (S$7) with vanilla extract, yoghurt and honey. It’s so delicious without being too thick or sweet, and comes with dehydrated yoghurt around the rim of the cup for that refreshing tang.

The_Halia_Banana_Almond_Smoothie

Banana & Almond Drink (S$7) – 10/10

I also tried the exceedingly pretty Lychee & Thyme drink (S$8) which came deconstructed with a side of thyme syrup and two lychees:
The_Halia_Lychee_Thyme

Lychee & Thyme Drink (S$8) – 8/10

The_Halia_Lychee_Thyme_Drink

Gorge.

So that was my take on the Halia’s Easy Breakfast menu; I’d say this would be a terrific breakfast option for a business meeting, or for people who an work remotely. For me though if I had the morning off I’d much rather stay in or get like kaya toast (steamed versh) from downstairs or something haha. The 2 items that would draw me back would probably be the Chilli Crab Eggs (S$14), and the 62.5 deg Poached Eggs (S$18).

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 259569
Reservations: +65 8444 1148 or general.hsbg@halia.com.sg
Note: Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea
Weekday Easy Breakfast Menu: Click here
Ala Carte Menus: Click here

Opening Hours
Weekday Easy Breakfast: 9am to 11am Mon-Fri except PH
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 930pm (Last seating)
Fri & PH eve: 12pm to 10pm
Weekends & PH Dinner: 4pm to 10pm (Last seating)
Weekends & PH Brunch: 10am to 4pm
Weekends & PH Afternoon Tea: 3pm to 5pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Favourite Dishes: Chilli Crab Eggs (S$14), 62.5deg Poached Eggs (S$18), The Banana & Almond Drink (S$7) 

Blue Jasmine at Park Hotel Farrer Park II

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

Opening Hours: 1130am to 10pm daily
Dinner Buffet Hours: 630pm to 10pm on Thu-Sat

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 7/10 (for the Anchan Buffet)
Recommended dishes: Rendang Prata, Banana Cheese Prata, Durian Sticky Rice
Remarks: The Anchan Buffet is available Thu-Sat at S$42++ per pax.
Introductory Offer: Enjoy 15% off from now till 30 Dec 2017!

Hey guys! How is everyone doing? Sorry I’ve been pretty MIA from my blog – I just haven’t had time to do a proper entry – work and social life have been pretty crazy. When I come home most nights, I really have to muster up all the energy I have left to wash up and then watch some Rick and Morty on Netflix to de-stress before sleeping lol. Have you guys watched any of this animated series? PLEASE GO TRY it’s so so great and funny and kooky. I’M PICKLE RIIIIICKKKK.

Anyway I’m here to talk about the newly-launched Anchan Buffet at the Blue Jasmine restaurant at Park Hotel Farrer Park! As you guys might have read, I was there last month in September trying out their à la carte menu and REALLY liked most of the food (click here for that review).

Let me take you through my experience this time around for their dinner buffet 🙂

I) Ambience

OK so this was my second time here and I KEEP forgetting to take photos of the interior, sorry! The inside seating is really cosy with beautiful floor tiles and well-spaced out tables. The real star of this restaurant, though, is the beautiful outside seating!! I love the outdoor ambience of this place, for real! It gets super romantic especially at dusk – just look at my unfiltered photos right here:

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Ambience

Dreamy

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Al_Fresco

Gosh this restaurant would be the perfect venue for a really intimate wedding reception or like an anniversary party book-out.

Ambience verdict: 10/10

II) Starters

They had a decent spread of starters – a mix of cold and hot ones. From the cold starters I only tried the mango salad, which I love! I mean you really gotta strategize when you’re at buffets and try to load up on food that you truly want, so I skipped some starters.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Mango_Salad

I love mango salad!!

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Salads

The two salads I did not try LOL

For warm starters there was the pandan chicken, the amazing tom yum taro chips, prawn in popiah skin, tom yum soup and also fried chicken wings.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Starters

A lil bit of errthang. Clockwise from left: Tom yum soup, pandan chicken, fried chicken wing, tom yum taro chips, prawn in popiah skin, mango salad and some prawn crackers!

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Sauces

All kinds of sauces and dips for your food!

Starters Verdict: I was not terribly impressed with the starters – there were a number of fried items which were not crispy anymore by the time we had them, as they had been left out in the open for a while. I spoke to the Manager and she told me that they had prepared the food early and hence the food had been sitting for about an hour or so. Disappointing, but she says they have tried to rectify this issue so the starters should be fresher by the time you guys try! Also the taro chips are the bomb tho, don’t skip those. 5/10

III) Live Station – Prata and Beef Noodles

So besides the spread inside the restaurant, the Anchan buffet also presents you with a live station out in the al fresco area. They had the Thai Beef Noodle Soup which the staff would cook for you on the spot. You can then customize it with a whole set of condiments including chilli powder, fried garlic, some basil chilli sauce, and coriander.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Live_Station_Noodles

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Noodle_Condiments

Condiments for the heaping 💯

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Voila! The final product. That beef ball is evvvvrything.

The noodles were unfortunately undercooked, which is really quite a basic thing to get wrong, so I was a little peeved. Thankfully the soup broth itself was pretty tasty! It was a little on the sweeter side as it follows the northern Thai cuisine style, so I would recommend more chilli powder if you want your broth spicy. The beef slices were a little tough, while the beef ball was surprisingly good and succulent.

Let’s not forget they also had a roti prata station serving Roti Prata with Rendang Curry, and also Roti Prata with Banana & Cheese unfffffff.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Prata_Menu

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Prata_Rendang

LOOK HOW CRISPY THE PRATA ISSSSSS ARGH 👅💦

The prata was a flaky marvel – crispy outside yet fluffy inside. The rendang was really tasty and rich, but the beef they used was rather tough, which kind of ruined my enjoyment argh.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Banana_Cheese_Prata

Literally my favourite of the lot. For real. I cannot deal with writing about this and seeing it on my screen.

OMG GUYS the Prata with Banana and Cheese was the bee’s knees for real!! I mean, could I easily make this myself? Yes. But would I pay to eat this outside so I don’t have to make it myself? Also yes. I mean if you’ve already paid for the buffet, why not be utilitarian about it and go for whatever makes you happy regardless of whether “I can make this at home” or “but this would cost next to nothing at the hawker centre”. Anyway if I come back for this buffet I’m probably making the prata station my main stop!

Live Station Verdict: I would def recommend trying out both the noodles and the two prata flavours! My favourite is fsho the Prata with Banana and Cheese tho 💯 For the beef noodles perhaps tell them to cook the noodles a breath longer next time. On a separate note I think live stations and cold stations are the best parts of any buffet – you get your food freshly prepared for you in the former, and in the latter they don’t need to be heated/warm to taste good! 9/10

III) Mains

I counted 5 mains of varying proteins to go with the blue jasmine rice – roast chicken, fried seabass, lamb massman, prawn curry, and wok-fried vegetables  Did you guys know they dye the rice naturally with the dye from the blue jasmine flower?! Pretty cool eh.

Take a look at the photos of the mains here:

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Rice

I reeeeaallly like this colour on the rice haha it’s so pretty.

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An army of mains waiting to be eaten lol

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Esarn_Roast_Chicken

Mmmmm roast chicken with that delicious northern-thai dried chilli “nam jim jaew” dipping sauce

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Roast_Chicken

One more roast chicken photo for good measure

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Fried_Seabass

What is Pae Sah style?!

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Massman_Lamb

Massaman Curry

OK so a break in the photos here to talk about the origins of the word Massaman – I just read this on Wikipedia:

Massaman or matsaman is not a native Thai word. It is generally thought to refer to the Muslims, with earlier writers from the mid-19th century calling the dish “Mussulman curry”; Mussulman being an archaic form of the word Muslim.[2][3]

Other theories contend that massaman is a southern Thai dish, influenced by Malay and Indian cuisine,[5] or that its name is derived from the Malay word masam, which means “sour”.[citation needed]

I live for random trivia like this lol. Anyway more photos:

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Prawns

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Wok_Fried_Ridge_Gourd

So I got a little bit of everything on a plate to try them like nasi padang lol:

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A little of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side (Basically a bit of everything)

Mains Verdict:  In all honesty, I much preferred the mains from the a la carte menu – probably because they’re freshly prepared instead of being cooked in batches for a buffet. Very, very surprisingly, I think my favourite of the lot was the Wok Fried Ridge Gourd!! The gourds were super juicy and tasty, yet light, which balanced out the heaviness of the other mains well. The roast chicken and yellow curry prawns were decent components, but the seabass and lamb unfortunately were not memorable for me. I would def load up on the prata and maybe go with 2-3 dishes for the mains if I went for the Anchan buffet the next time. 6/10

IV) Dessert

Ahh, dessert. There was quite a variety of cakes and kuehs on offer, as you can see below:

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Cakes

Again, I took a bit of everything and honestly all of them were pretty yummy, especially the kueh tako (extreme left) and the brown/coconutty thing that looks (and tasted) like kueh kaswi (below the tako)

 

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Coconut_Panna_Cotta

Panna cotta texture was a little too creamy for me but otherwise okay

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Coconut_Soft_Serve

DIY coconut soft serve!! I love.

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Please don’t be like my lame friend who made us one cup each but NEGLECTED to add peanuts/toppings to our coconut soft serve. They really enhance the whole dessert!

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Fruits

Fruits which I truly did NOT touch at all lol I was SO full by the end.

The pièce-de-résistance though was the Durian Sticky Rice, which was an irreverent take on the more ubiquitous mango sticky rice dessert:

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Durian_Sticky_Rice

UNFFFFFFF YASSSSSSSSSSSS

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Outdoor_Station

The Durian Sticky Rice station, with the thick and delicious durian sauce on the left, and the two bowls of sticky rice in blue jasmine, as well as brown rice colours. You can spot the refreshing lemongrass drink on the right which helps quench your thirst/cut the sweetness of everything.

Blue_Jasmine_Buffet_Teh_Tarik

Ultra-sweet teh tarik (ahem the way I like it) from the teh tarik station where the staff pulls the drink right in front of you!

Dessert Verdict: OK so I think the desserts were quite delightful, and of course my absolute favourite was the Durian Sticky Rice. I’m not usually a fan of eating durian outside the home, or for that matter eating durian derivatives, but this was really quite scrumptious and comforting. I do wish they would serve like Thai Ice Tea ice cream or something lol 8.5/10

Overall verdict: I would recommend you guys try the Anchan buffet if any of these things that I’ve just talked about appeals to you. After the introductory discount and factoring in GST and service charge, it’ll only cost you guys S$42 all-in to try all the food on offer! Otherwise, I would definitely encourage you guys to check out my review of the à la carte menu here and go for that instead 🙂 7/10

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

Opening Hours: 1130am to 10pm daily
Dinner Buffet Hours: 630pm to 10pm on Thu-Sat

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 7/10 (for the Anchan Buffet)
Recommended dishes: Rendang Prata, Banana Cheese Prata, Durian Sticky Rice
Remarks: The Anchan Buffet is available Thu-Sat at S$42++ per pax.
Introductory Offer: Enjoy 15% off from now till 30 Dec 2017!

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
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order @ 10pm)

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?

Hararu_Izakaya_Foreword

Hararu_Izakaya_Mural

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.

Hararu_Izakaya_Decor

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

Hararu_Izakaya_Wall

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:

Hararu_Izakaya_Scallop_Turkey_Bacon

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

Hararu_Izakaya_Scallop_Turkey_Bacon2

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.

Hararu_Izakaya_Zaru_Soba

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):

Hararu_Izakaya_Chicken_Thigh_Leek

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:

Hararu_Izakaya_Shitake_Negi

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):

Hararu_Izakaya_Beef_Ponzu

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):

Hararu_Izakaya_Chicken_Wings

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.

Hararu_Izakaya_Beef_Ribs1

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.

Hararu_Izakaya_Beef_Ribs2

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
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order @ 10pm)

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)

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

Opening Hours: 1130am to 10pm daily
Anchan Buffet Dinner Hours: 630pm to 10pm on Thu-Sat

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?).

Blue_Jasmine_Logo

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!

Blue_Jasmine_Al_Fresco

Beautiful shadows on the ceiling!

Blue_Jasmine_Outdoor

Super romantic outdoor seating

Blue_Jasmine_Patio

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

Blue_Jasmine_Chicken_Larb_Ball

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

Opening Hours: 1130am to 10pm daily
Anchan Buffet Dinner Hours: 630pm to 10pm on Thu-Sat

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)