Eighteen Chefs at Orchard Cineleisure

Eighteen Chefs
#04-02 Cathay Cineleisure
8 Grange Road
Singapore 239695

Opening Hours
Sun-Thu: 1130am to 1030pm
Fri-Sat & Eve of PH: 1130am to 1am
Reservations: +65 6736 3800

So have you guys watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens?! No spoilers, don’t worry. I won’t even tell you if I thought it was good or bad (although it’s killing me not to say anything, judgy as I am). What I will share with you, is how excited I was. I re-watched all 6 movies to refresh my memory and get psyched for Episode VII. Heck, I even dressed up as a modern day Princess Leia to the screening! Behold:

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I went easy on the side buns because the actual ones from the movie would’ve looked SO RIDICS.

Yes. I had dinner with a friend before meeting another friend for the movie proper, and I warned both of them to prepare for major embarrassment.

My dinner date and I decided on the halal-certified western food chain Eighteen Chefs, which has an outlet conveniently located in Cineleisure Orchard. The restaurant is literally next to the box office area on the 4th floor. It was perfffff.

In case you guys didn’t already know, Eighteen Chefs is a homegrown social enterprise, with a story that really gives me the feels. It was started by former drug addict Chef Benny Se Teo as an avenue for his entrepreneurial spirit, as well as to create employment opportunities for other ex-offenders and at-risk youths. The name was inspired by Eighteen, the name of the gang Chef Benny’s dad used to belong to (how interesting!). The restaurant now has several franchises in Singapore, and all of them are committed to hiring ex-offenders and troubled youths as part of their staff. You can read all about it here, it’s really very riveting and heart-warming.

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Approximately how I feel about this story

I mean, isn’t it just great?! I love that this whole enterprise is empowering those trying to turn their lives around. Without these opportunities, former convicts might be discouraged from trying, from sheer lack of hope. I am really grateful for Chef Benny’s vision and dedication to the cause.

Aaaaanyway I digress. Like I said there are many branches of Eighteen Chefs today, totalling 9 which span the whole of Singapore (for real, from Simei to Serangoon to Orchard to Jurong East to Bukit Panjang, whew!). You can check out the outlets here: Eighteen Chefs Outlets, and take a look at the menu online here: Eighteen Chefs Online Menu.

My friend and I shared a starter – the Calamari Rings (S$4.80).

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They really look like onion rings don’t they! I hate onion rings. More so when I tragically mistake onion rings for calamari :(:(:(

The calamari rings were aiiight. Very ordinary, and I didn’t really expect much for the extremely low price point of S$4.80. The batter was a little bland, and the squid rings weren’t particularly plump or flavourful. Thank goodness for self-service chilli sauce station! Maybe they could improve the batter a little to make it more savoury? But for that price I will let the pedestrianness of the calamari rings slide. 7/10.

For my main, I got the Striploin Steak (S$15.80), which features an NZ chilled beef cut alongside some seasonal vegetables, and comes with a mystery black (pepper?) sauce:

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Full disclosure – I love steak, and will readily eat it even if it’s overcooked. For real, even steak from a regular coffeeshop like Mr Teh Tarik is like, wow sedap, for me. This devotion served me well when I realised the steak from Eighteen Chefs, which I had ordered in ‘medium’ doneness, came fairly overcooked:

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I think this could be medium well? Or well done? It was very overcooked.

I still ate it anyway. I think it wouldn’t have been half bad if I had ordered it in medium rare, so if you guys like your steak juicy, please get it in medium rare! I was sad it came with the grilled potatoes instead of fries or mash, but potatoes are potatoes and I love them regardless. Also, the seasonal vegetables were pretty sad and vaguely reminiscent of hospital food, but I still ate them anyway, blandness notwithstanding. The mystery black sauce that came with the steak, which I will assume is black pepper sauce, tasted pretty awful so I didn’t pour too much of it over my steak. Instead of being a fiery peppery sauce, it tasted like… kicap manis (sweet light soy sauce) with salt and a little bit of pepper. Not ideal. 6.5/10 for the steak!

During my first visit here I had the Heart Attack Fried Rice For 1 (S$15.80) which came with 200gm of New York strips, and the meat was infinitely more juicy and flavourful then. I would counsel going with that if you’re hankering for some meat.

My friend got the Japanese Curry Beef Rice (S$13.80), which features rice drenched in thick curry and topped with tender grilled beef strips:

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This was an infinitely better choice! Japanese curry is always so yummy – in case you’ve never had it before, it’s thicker, smoother, and less piquant than regular curry. Eighteen Chefs’ rendition was very tasty and flavourful, and really quite comforting on rainy days, which feature aplenty during this time of year! Because the beef was soaked in curry it was also more tender and juicy than the bujang (solo) Striploin steak. 9/10 for this hearty curry dish.

Although I didn’t really like my steak, I feel I would definitely come back again to have more of the Curry Beef Rice and the Heart Attack Fried Rice. Definitely skip the calamari unless you’re craving, or don’t mind that it’s not great because it costs less than S$5. The menu is pretty extensive so there is a whole lot of other options too if you find something else that appeals to you!

Conceptually I also support Eighteen Chefs’ yellow-ribbon cause, so I will probably come here once in a while, especially when I’m watching a movie at Cineleisure. I hope you guys will do it too!

Below are some sub-par shots of the menu which I took, in case you guys are too lazy to go to the website!

 

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Kaw Kaw SG at Aliwal St

***Edited to add: The menu has been considerably updated since this first visit, so please check out my more recent Kaw Kaw SG post! Thank you 🙂 ***

Kaw Kaw SG
28 Aliwal St
Singapore 199918
Reservations (only on Mon-Thu): call  +65 6444 8349 or email makanstate@gmail.com
Remarks: Only cash/credit cards, no NETS. No service charge or GST!

Opening Hours
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 11pm
Fri-Sun: 3pm to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating:7.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~S$26
Recommended dishes: Fried Portobello Fingers (S$9.90)

I love burgers, it ain’t no lie, so when I heard about the new halal-certified burger joint in Singapore called Kaw Kaw, opened by the folks at Makanstate group (purveyors of “good food lifestyle”), I knew I had to check it out post haste!

Located on Aliwal Street near the Arab Street district, Kaw Kaw SG occupies a spacious dining spot where the erstwhile A For Arbite once stood. It’s so big, there are literally two different entrances to the restaurant. Love it, and love the interior:

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How spacious and charming! The long tables are perfect for larger catch-up sessions 🙂

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Quirky art adorning the faux-brick walls. Did you know that the art pieces and furniture at this café are all for sale? One of the co-founders of Makanstate, Ainil, told me this when I was paying later that night. Great marriage of lifestyle/dining concepts.

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Even these “lonely hearts” bar seats looked cosy

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They also have a mini stage with a lovely National Education-style mural as the backdrop! And notice the felled-timber tabletops on stage! Cute.

I’d like to add here that since the place is quite spacious and there is some recess area at where the stage is, it is actually rather child-friendly. There were some kids playing together at the stage, either propping themselves up on the tabletops, or just generally running around chasing each other in that corner of the café. Bring your kids here, people! But please make sure they don’t make too much noise, thank you!

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Is that an antique bicycle I spy, next to those old-school suitcases? So hipster it hurts.

The menu is pretty standard – some burgers and some mains. I wish they had more appetizers for us to try, but I suppose the specialty is really the burgers.

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Omg it’s impossible to read because of the printed background, sorry

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I love Thai Milk Tea ice cream!! Will definitely want to try that the next time I’m here.

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As mentioned in an earlier photo caption, their furniture and art pieces on display at the café are up for sale too!

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Can I really forgive them for naming one of their tea coolers “The Cu-Tea”? LOL yes I can. It’s adorable.

For starters, we went for the Fried Portobello Fingers (S$9.90):

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I loved these portobello bites!! They were really yummy – fat, juicy strips of giant portobello mushrooms with a very light and crunchy breading that was not excessively oily. I can’t comment on the mayo dip because I hate mayo, but I can reassure you eating them on their own was good enough. 9/10

Burger-wise I opted for the Smokey Bacon Beef Burger (S$14.80), which featured a 175g beef patty topped with beef bacon, jalapeños, smoky sauce and melted cheese.

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OMG TORTILLA CHIPS?!?! WHERE THEM FRIES AT!!! 😡

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A cross-section of the burger. Patty looks a bit dry, eh?

The burger bun was really good – soft and slightly chewy, with good bite. I’m glad they didn’t skimp on the bun and go for those nonsense aerated/styrofoamy ones. The beef patty itself was tasty, substantial, and did not come apart like the one at The Lab, which is good, BUT. I thought it was a little dry, and wished it had been juicier.

MOST EGREGIOUSLY THOUGH, the burger did not come with a side of fries. Instead, it came with some healthy flippin’ tortilla chips and dip!!! What! Duuuuude I need my burger with friessss. What is this tortilla chips business? Did I order a buckwheat pita with vegetarian stuffing, or did I order a big fat juicy beef burger? Tortilla chips go with one but not the other. I was very sad. I also thought that the salsa dip that came with the chips were excessively watery – the tomato juice ran down my hands after I dipped the chips into it, not good. The other spicy aioli-ish sauce was delicious though! 7.5/10 for the burger overall, with points docked for the tortilla chips and slightly dry patty.

My friend ordered Kaw Kaw’s signature burger, The Permaisuri Burger (S$16.70) which consists of fried chicken thigh with turkey ham, chicken floss, and lemongrass sauce topped with melted cheese. For info, Permaisuri means Queen in Malay, so really what my friend had was the queen of burgers:

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Eee onion.

I had a bite of this and thought it was decent, but not life-changing. The chicken patty was crispy and tasty, but I found it all a little dry still. The sauce that came with the burger tasted very strongly of ginger, to the point were it was a little biting. My friend wasn’t terribly impressed either, whoops. I would give the Permaisuri around 7/10.

We didn’t have any space left for dessert, so the meal ended with the burgers. Overall I thought the burgers were not as good as they’d been made out to be in the blogosphere, but I reckon I had a good-enough experience to warrant a repeat visit to give them a second chance. Who knows, maybe I caught them on a bad night. I will definitely report back here again after my next visit to Kaw Kaw.

Aside from the food, I really loved the ambience of the café, and service was attentive and friendly. Waiting time for the burgers was admittedly quite excessive, but it was a very busy night, so I guess the kitchen was just backed up. I hope the quality of the burgers improve, and they consider having a fries option instead of the sacrilegious tortilla chips.

Some random pictures to end off the post:

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The pretty decorative board over the entrance doors

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Totally legit, you guys. I love halal.

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Random drinks picture. The iced chocolate was rather pedestrian. The cu-tea my friend had was excessively sweet, so perhaps less syrup next time please!

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Kiblat (prayer direction) provided at the café for those looking to do a quick prayer while waiting for their food! Alhamdulillah.

Kaw Kaw SG
28 Aliwal St
Singapore 199918
Reservations (only on Mon-Thu): call  +65 6444 8349 or email makanstate@gmail.com
Remarks: Only cash/credit cards, no NETS. No service charge or GST!

Opening Hours
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 11pm
Fri-Sun: 3pm to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating:7.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~S$26
Recommended dishes: Fried Portobello Fingers (S$9.90)

Savoury at Jalan Kayu

Savoury
246 Jalan Kayu
Singapore 799470
Reservations: +65 6752 9288

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 530pm to 11pm
Sat-Sun: 1130am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10

Last weekend I had brunch at a fairly-new halal restaurant at Jalan Kayu called Savoury together with my girlfriends, one of whom had previously tried it and breathlessly raved about it. It was kind of a pain getting there for a Westie like me (makes gangster West-side hand signs), but I did it anyway because I am a Conqueror, as Estelle defiantly sings, and also I will travel for food, it ain’t no thang.

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Love the high ceilings, and cosy interiors. It felt pretty spacious inside (you can’t really see in this photo, sorry!).

Located right next to Le Steak by Chef Amri (in what I feel is a great arrow to the knee for said establishment, because as you will find out later, Savoury makes GREAT steak. Sorry #spoilers), Savoury specialises in Western fare such as steak, pasta, and gelato! The establishment got its halal certification from MUIS in August 2015, so now you can eat entirely guilt-free and bring the most was-was of your Muslim clan there to eat!

The menu has quite an impressive array of dishes, but my attention was immediately drawn to the very meat-heavy mains section:

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As you guys know (or will come to know soon enough), I love chicken wings and have eaten probably my body weight in them in the past year alone, so naturally I had to try the Buffalo Wings (S$10.80) from Savoury:

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Stop glistening so much and just get in my belly already!!

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Glisten glisten tsk

Savoury’s version of buffalo wings were really delicious! Very tasty and lip-smacking good, BUT, they were not as spicy as I would’ve liked. Plus kind of wish they had been just the slightest bit more saucy, but that is really a personal preference. I like when the sauce spreads through your whole mouth when you chew down on the chicken, and when there is a lot of excess sauce to lick off of your fingers at the end :/ So gross right? Whatevs.

Also, and this is nitpicking a little, the wings did not come with any blue cheese or sour cream sauce, which I think is a significant detail especially since the sauce-meat ratio is only just sufficient (which, to a sauce-hound like me, is not enough). In the battle between Savoury’s and Royz et Vous’ buffalo wings, I’m afraid Royz et Vous wins out. The REV version is spicier, saucier, and comes with a sour cream dip for variety! But of course these are all subjective preferences so you kids can decide which version you’d prefer. Also, Savoury’s is $2 cheaper than REV’s, so that could factor into your decision too. For me, the Savoury buffalo wings get a solid 8.5/10.

For my main dish I decided to go for the Beef Tenderloin (S$29.80) in medium done-ness. The pan-fried New Zealand beef comes with black pepper sauce and a side of potato gratin:

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Like a Kandinsky masterpiece

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That orange puree though, no thanks

YUM this was REALLY good!!! The black pepper sauce had just enough punch without being too heaty in your throat, and the meat was really tender and tendon-free! (looking at you, Royals Steak House) My only gripe about the meat was that I thought it was overdone, and therefore slightly dry. This was of course mitigated by the pepper sauce, so it wasn’t too bad. Plus, the meat tasted so good I was convinced it would taste phenomenal if cooked slightly less. For those who prefer their meats pinker and juicier, I would definitely recommend taking the plunge and opting for medium rare in the future. If not, then ok medium should work for you. Shoutout here to the potato gratin which was so creamy and delicious. This dish gets 8/10, with a point docked for the tenderloin being overcooked.

One of my friends ordered the Agnolotti (S$18.80), which is fresh pasta stuffed with fresh prawns and crab meat in a tomato and cream sauce:

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Yum the sauce was really delicious!! Rich, savoury, slightly tangy, and creamy all at once. Perf. The pasta had a good texture and was tender, but my personal opinion is that the stuffing itself could have been slightly tastier so the pasta wouldn’t have to rely on the strength of the sauce to carry the dish. Still a very tasty pasta dish on the whole though! 8/10

We ended off with the Salted Caramel Waffle with 2 Scoops (S$17), and we went with the Peach sorbet and Snickers flavours:

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The gelato spread – they have the standard chocolaty sweet ones, assorted sorbets, and also – OMG – salted egg ice cream!! It tasted like the custard in salted egg buns.

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OMG gnomes/snowmen with strawberry hats SO CUTE!!! Dying.

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Muumuuumuuuhhh SO CUTE HOW TO EAT!

Guys, the peach sorbet was SO YUMMYYYY. It wasn’t as thin or tart as regular sorbet, but tasted a little like frozen peach Vitagen. Which I love. The snickers flavour was aiiight; I’m not a huge fan of nuts (particularly peanuts) in my ice cream unless they’re candied pecans, but my friends wanted it so we compromised 🙂 THE WAFFLES THOUGH!! Were so good! So fluffy and crisp and light, but still substantial! I loved the salted caramel sauce drizzled on the plate,YUM. Also if you couldn’t already tell, LOVE the presentation!! The little creatures were so adorable, and their strawberry hats tasted very sweet! It felt weird lopping off their heads and scooping it into my mouth, but well food is food. The ice cream men were also standing on a layer of wafer that separated the ice cream from the waffle, so it wouldn’t become a mushy creamy mess so quickly! I LOVED that attention to detail. 10/10

On the whole, Savoury is a GREAT addition to the canon of restaurants at Jalan Kayu, and I would definitely come back here to have the steak again and again. Finally a worthy competitor to Krave’s Steak! I am also curious to try the other things on the menu, so rest assured I will report back when that time comes 🙂

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Savoury
246 Jalan Kayu
Singapore 799470
Reservations: +65 6752 9288

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 530pm to 11pm
Sat-Sun: 1130am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10

 

Puncak at Far East Plaza

Puncak Best Noodles & Halal Muslim Food
#05-94 Far East Plaza,
14 Scotts Road
Singapore 228213

Open daily 10am to 10pm
Tel: +65 6738 4348

Last Friday my lunch buddy and I made our way to Far East Plaza to have our regular Cahaya session. To our chagrin, it was CLOSED!!! With nary an explanation! We’re hoping that was a one-off occurrence and not portentous of a permanent shut-down.

Struggling to quell our staggering disappointment, we slunk over to Puncak right next to it, having long ignored this rival establishment.

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Just a sliver of closed shutters to the right, where Cahaya is 😦

The first thing we noticed was that it felt much smaller and less bright than Cahaya. The second thing was that the prices at Puncak were slightly higher than Cahaya’s!

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But anyway we were hostage to our tremendous food disappointment and already built-up cravings, so we got what we’d always get, first of which is the small Fried Wanton (S$5).

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Lighting here was great and rather conducive to #flatlay, in case you were wondering

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Omg why so crispy and perfectly golden-brown!

The wanton texture was perfect – crispy, light, and not too hard. The filling was orange and tasted a little bit of carrots, which I’m not a fan of, but otherwise the paste inside was pretty decent. If you recall from my previous Cahaya post, we HATE the black dipping sauce that comes with these wantons, so it was ever to Puncak’s credit that they served it in a separate dipping cup instead of directly on the plate. This way the black slick would not contaminate our beloved wantons. Plus points for that. 8/10

We ordered a plate of fried Hokkien Mee (S$5.50) too:

 

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OMG guys. The Hokkien Mee is LOADED with ingredients, and is so moist and delicious! The sauce was extremely flavourful and prawny, whereas the sambal was really shrimpy/belacany. Compared to Cahaya’s, Puncak’s definitely fared better. Gosh, to think I was all ready to write off Puncak as a poor man’s Cahaya! Boy did I have to eat my words. Notably, Puncak’s rendition had rings of squid in addition to the fishcake and prawns. Gosh, sorry Cahaya, but 10/10 for Puncak’s hokkien mee.

All in all, I definitely had a good meal at Puncak. The waiting time however left much to be desired; we waited about 25 minutes after ordering, for our food to arrive! I’m not sure if that was due to excessive orders spilling over from Cahaya’s closure, but yeah it was not great. Because of my loyalty to Cahaya, I’m not sure if I’ll go back to Puncak, but yeah you guys should check it out!

Puncak Best Noodles & Halal Muslim Food
#05-94 Far East Plaza,
14 Scotts Road
Singapore 228213

Open daily 10am to 10pm
Tel: +65 6738 4348