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):

OmoOmoDon_Takoyaki

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:

OmoOmoDon_Sirloin

Yes Sir! Yes Sir! Don (S$12) – 8.5/10

OmoOmoDon_Sirloin_Closeup

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:

OmoOmoDon_Birds_Nest

Bird’s Nest (S$10) – 10/10

OmoOmoDon_Birds_Nest_Closeup

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.

OmoOmoDon_Jiji_Don

Ji-Ji Don (S$10) – 8/10

 

OmoOmoDon_Jiji_Don_Closeup

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:

OmoOmoDon_Flatlay

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

OmoOmoDon_Interior

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

OmoOmoDon_three_dons

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)

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Chef Wan’s Kitchen at Esplanade Mall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a look at the restaurant decor:

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_View

Look you can see MBS from here! Gorge.

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Interior

View of the entrance/exit from the inside

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Exterior

View of the entrance within Esplanade Mall

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Food_Spread

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Javanese Fried Chicken (S$18.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Javanese_Fried_Chicken2

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

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

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Bibik_Neo_Lemak_Laksa_Noodles

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

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

4. Prawns in Pineapple Curry (S$21.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Nyonya_Gulai_Udang

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

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

5. Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90)

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

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

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Lontong

Lontong (S$13.90) – 7/10

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

7. Selangor Beef Rendang (S$22.90)

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

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

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Grilled_Chicken_Ayam_Percik

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

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

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

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Mee_Rebus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We closed with the pièce-de-résistance:

11. Churros Cheese Tart ($5.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Churros_Cheese_Tart

Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90) – 9.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumpkin – 1981

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

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

Take Hyde Out - Decor 2

More industrial, less “pretty”

Take Hyde Out - Decor

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

Take Hyde Out - Menu 2

Main menu

Take Hyde Out - Menu 2

Brunch Menu

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

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

Take Hyde Out - Chicken and Waffles

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

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

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

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

Take Hyde Out - Hyde's Chilli Crab Pasta

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

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

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

Take Hyde Out - Pulled Beef Mantou

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

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

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

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

Hyde & Co - Into The Woods Drink

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

…to this!

Take Hyde Out - Cold Brew Teas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citrus By The Pool at Woodlands Swimming Complex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Woodlands_Sports_Hall

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Interior

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

 

 

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Pumpkin_Soup

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Homemade_Pumpkin_Soup

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Homemade_Mushroom_Soup

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

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Sweet_Potato_Fries

Sweet Potato Fries (S$7.50) – 9.5/10

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

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Da_Burger_Bomb2

Da Burger Bomb (S$11.90) – 8.5/10

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Da_Burger_Bomb_Cross-Section

UNFF I love burger cross-sections

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Fried_Chicken_Waffles

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Chicken_Waffle

Look how appetising this issssss 

 

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

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Salted_Egg_Seafood_Pasta

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

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

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

 

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Seafood_Risotto

Seafood Risotto (S$16.90) – 6/10

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

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

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Chocolate_Lava_Cake

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

 

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

 

Citrus_By_The_Pool_Molten_Chocolate_Lava_Cake

UNFFFFFF SO GOOOOOOOOODDDDD

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

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

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

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

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

Noosh Noodle Bar and Grill at The Esplanade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Curly_Fries_Cheese_Bacon

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

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

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Smoked_Duck_Lemak_Chili_Padi

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

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Smoked_Duck_Lemak_Pasta

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

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

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Spicy_Beef_Ramyeon

Spicy Beef Ramyeon (S$16.90) – 7/10

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Spicy_Beef_Ramen

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

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

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_White_Chocolate_Panna_Cotta

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

Noosh_Noodle_Bar_Pannacotta_Berries_Coulis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Halia At Singapore Botanic Gardens

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
Ramadan Communal Menu: Click here
Ala Carte Menus: Click here

Opening Hours
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 effective 1 Jun 2017
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Favourite Dishes: Boston Bay Mussels, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemongrass & Ginger Salad
Remarks: Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017, but the featured dishes remain on the ala carte menu thereafter 🙂

Hey guys! So I woke up today to so much drama about the First Family. (You know, the statements by LWL and LHY directed against LHL) – and since then the interwebs have all but exploded with commentaries and analyses. I won’t go too much into it here because I’m still digesting it myself but you guys should totally read all the commentaries online! Honestly I’m a little shook :/

…okay but like is this a food blog or did I accidentally click on The Online Citizen?

LOL YES FOOD so guess what just became halal on 1 June 2017 – The Halia at Botanic Gardens!! I knew a couple of months ago they were gonna go halal – basically one of my girlfriends wanted to host her wedding dinner at The Halia and so the Halia rep told her they were going to convert to a fully halal menu #alhamdulillah LOL. (My other friend low key was forcing me to crack a #TheHalalia joke tsk). After my girlfriend told me about it, I had already planned to try out the new halal menu on my own, but then I got an invitation from the Halia PR people, and that was a nice surprise!

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Exterior

Gorge omg.

Tucked away in the lush foliage of the Ginger Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, The Halia is a beautiful restaurant that is quite unmatched by other dining establishments in its ambience. I have to be honest though, it is not the most public-transport-friendly location; so while it’s all good for car-owners (the carpark is pretty close-by!), it’s a bit of a pain for people like myself. My friend and I took the train to Botanic Gardens on the DTL and then ubered from there, and our Uber driver got a little lost lol so we ended up doing a lot of walking. BUT it’s really just a short uber ride away from Botanic Gardens MRT and the ambience more than makes up for the inaccessibility.

We arrived just in time for dinner and tried out the Halia’s Ramadan Communal Menu for 6 for $270! The menu combines selections from their regular all-day menu so you get to taste more dishes without breaking the bank!

 

Halia Communal Menu for Ramadan 2017-2

The Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017!

We were seated in the al fresco dining area called the Viewing Deck. I was initially worried about feeling too warm and sweaty but the evening air was cool, and after 2-3 courses, it started feeling super pleasant with the cool air and the gentle breeze from the ceiling fans.

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Viewing Deck

Media photo taken obviously long before Maghrib lol

The_Halia_Ceiling_Lights

Charming lights!

Besides the Viewing Deck, The Halia also has an airconditioned main dining hall with tall ceilings and glass walls. I would seriously recommend making reservations to get seats inside especially if you’re coming with kids (you don’t want to get sweaty tending to them!)

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Dining Room

The interior at the main dining room at the Halia – so beautiful!

OK let’s start from the top. First we had the Soup of the Day, which was the Pumpkin and Carrot Soup:

The_Halia_Pumpkin_Carrot_Soup

Soup of the day – pumpkin and carrot soup! 10/10

Mmmm ok I love all soup but this was also objectively the perfect opener. The flavour is subtle (I love pumpkin but I wouldn’t be a huge fan if the carrot taste were too strong) and the texture is creamy. It’s a good soup that’s not too cloying or thick. Bonus points for pouring it into our bowls on the spot from an old-school metal kettle! 10/10

Next up was the trio of starters – the Halia signature Lemongrass & Ginger Prawn Salad, Potato Fries with piquant mayo, and the Deepfried Salt & Chilli Squid with a ginger-lime syrup dip and piquant mayo.

The_Halia_Starters

Lemongrass & Ginger Prawn Salad: Oh boy I loved this and I suppose it’s with good reason this is one of their signature dishes! The prawns were phenomenal – fresh, juicy and flavourful. It was altogether a great combination of spicy and coconutty with a hint of ginger. One of the diners wasn’t a huge fan of ginger, and even she found this dish delicious because there was only a hint of ginger. There’s also cubes of juicy, sweet mangoes accompanying the prawns, making this a great salad even for someone like me who’s not naturally predisposed towards salads. 10/10. 

The_Halia_Lemongrass_Ginger_Prawn_Salad

A closer look at this phenoms prawn salad argh YUMMMMM that slight char thooooooo 💯

Potato Fries: This was decent but nothing to write home about. The piquant mayo though, was delicious! Piquant, by the way, means spicy in French (This is obviously the precise reason I learned French, so I can decode fancy food names lol). I’m not a fan of regular mayo – ugh, that slick, oily texture and that middle-of-the-road taste – just, NOOO. But this piquant mayo is smokey, slightly spicy and really adds oomph to the otherwise ordinary fries. 7.5/10

Deep-fried Salt and Chilli Squid: I was pretty excited about this but after tasting it I felt this was the weakest link on the menu. The squid was only okay – the batter was very, very light and on its own the squid came off a little bland and unimpressive. The ginger-lime syrup dip was not to my liking – it was watery and sweet, and maybe my McDonald’s-friendly palette wasn’t refined enough to appreciate the taste 😕 So again, the piquant mayo dip was the star of this dish. 6/10

Next up was the Fresh Boston Bay Mussels with coconut and ginger flower broth, chilli, lime and freshly-made grilled foccaccia:

The_Halia_Fresh_Boston_Bay_Mussels

Fresh Boston Bay Mussels in coconut and ginger flower broth!! SEDAP OR WHAT OMG 10/10

You guys, these mussels are amazing and out of this world. Literally, the mussels are so juicy and plump and fresh, and the broth is so tasty it’s like a cross between tom yum and laksa broth ARGH I LOVE. It’s tough to find good mussels at halal places – I honestly can’t name one because the good ones I’ve eaten have tended to be from non-halal places. This is definitely a welcome change and I would for sure come back again to Halia for these mussels alone. 20/10 if I could defy the laws of mathematics but ok let’s settle for 10/10 for now.

Served at the same time as the mussels was the Panfried Barramundi on a bed of pignolina mini pasta in thai coconut cream, asparagus and cherry tomatoes:

The_Halia_Pan-fried_Barramundi

Panfried Barramundi – oof look at the char on the asparagus!! 👅💦 7.5/10

Ok the barramundi was super fresh and the meat was tender, while the crispy skin was a delight to bite into. Full marks for the fish. However, I found the pasta a little too creamy; it got pretty jelak after a few mouthfuls. I wish they wouldn’t make the sauce quite so thick, especially since the pignolina pasta is tiny and the sauce wholly coats each and every single one of them. LOVED the asparagus and the cherry tomatoes though. 7.5/10

The_Halia_Mussels_Barramundi

Couple photo

We moved on from the intermediate dishes to the mains, the first of which was the Slow-cooked Tender Chicken Breast & Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin:

The_Halia_Slow-Cooked_Chicken_Breast

Slow-cooked Tender Chicken Breast – 7/10

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Braised minced chicken leg potato gratin – 7.5/10

So the chicken breast was really, really tender, as befits chicken that’s been cooked using the sous-vide method. Flavour-wise though I didn’t get much from this dish. As for the braised minced (chicken) leg potato gratin, it was a riot – the moment we had a forkful, we were hit with a sense of familiarity and spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out what it tasted like! We started out with begedil (those Malay potato balls) and ended up deciding it was most like shepherd’s pie LOL. It was very flavourful, but I thought it was way too rich and slightly too sweet for me. Not altogether catastrophic, and nothing a few tweaks couldn’t fix. 7/10

We moved on to the Tajima Wagyu Skirt Steak with a marbling score of 7-8 (I tend to go for 7), served with potato gratin dauphinoise & mushroom jus (you know how I feel about jus I LOVE EM).

The_Halia_Tajima_Wagyu_Steak

So when we heard the name Tajima wagyu, everyone was guilty of making terrible Hana Tajima for Uniqlo jokes, including yours truly lol. Mostly though we were just really excited to try halal wagyu beef – there’s def not enough establishments here in Singapore that do it! The last time I had halal wagyu beef was in KL at Las Vacas :/

The skirt steak had a nice char and I was all over it like white on rice! It was juicy, tender, and had great flavour even without the jus. The dauphinoise potato gratin however was SO oniony I left it alone after one bite. 8.5/10 with half a point docked for the overwhelming onion taste!

For the final main we had another one of The Halia’s signature dishes, the Halia’s Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini in spicy, sweet and tangy sauce:

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My photo of the Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini – 9/10

Chilli Crab Spaghettini

The press photo of the Chilli Crab Spaghettini LOL I think mine wasn’t too shabby in comparison

Did you guys know the Chilli Crab Spaghettini was created all of 13 years ago? Gosh so much history behind this dish. You can say they were the pioneers of the chilli crab pasta which is pretty ubiquitous nowadays.

I thought this was a solid offering – the spaghettini was perfectly al dente and coated in the chilli crab sauce which was robust, full-bodied, and flavourful. However – and maybe this was just a one-off thing – I thought the sauce was a smidge too sweet for me. Just dial down the sweetness and we’d have a great pasta dish. 9/10

Oof after all that it was time for dessert. We had the Sticky Toffee Pudding first, which came with butterscotch sauce, sea salt and vanilla ice cream:

The_Halia_Sticky_Toffee_Pudding

UNFFFFFFF Sticky Toffee Pudding 10/10 omg

Good grief you guys this was far and away the best dessert I’ve had in a while. The sponge cake – made from dates – was so moist and delicious, and the combination of the butterscotch sauce with the sea salt was absolutely heavenly. The contrasting sweet and salty tastes just made this dish perfect without being too jelak. Add vanilla ice cream to the mix and you’ve got yourself a veritable mouth party once again. This was so, so good and I’ll def come back for more. 10/10

The next dessert was the cheekily-named Die Die Must Have Chocolate, comprising chocolate “elements” (fancy name for morsels?), raspberries, raspberry sorbet and a surprise ingredient – gasp – pop rocks candy!! OMG I love those?!

The_Halia_Die_Die_Must_Have_Chocolate

Die Die Must Have Chocolate – this terrible photo doesn’t do this delightful dessert any justice I’m so sorry 9.5/10

Oh wow I was very impressed by this dish! The chocolate pieces were perfect and not overly sweet, while the juicy, juicy raspberries added a nice tang to the dish. Also how can you not love the sensation of popping candy rocks in your mouth?!  As a side note here’s some trivia about pop rocks candy, but ok back to business – I loved this fun dish. 9.5/10

Last but not least there was the Ginger Spice, All Things Nice which was made up of coconut mousse, compressed pineapple and shavings of dehydrated coconut flesh:

The_Halia_Ginger_Spice_Dessert

Ginger Spice, All Things Nice (Don’t be alarmed that green mossy-looking thing is pistachio crumble and it actually tasted pretty alright) – 7.5/10

With its distinctive Southeast Asian features, this dessert was a little less conventional than the first 2. I LOVED the pineapple which was juicy and sweet with a hint of ginger spice, BUT the coconut mousse was just okay for me. I would definitely stick to the Sticky Toffee Pudding if I had to choose! 7.5/10

WHEW! That was a trip and a half, wasn’t it? Thank you for reading all of that with me LOL. I had a great time at The Halia and I will definitely come back with my friends to share! It works out to $45++ per person for all that food, whether you have the 4-pax or 6-pax set. I also asked if more people could share, let’s say if 5 or 6 girls with smaller appetites could order the 4-pax set to share, and the PR folks said yes this is possible! The Ramadan communal menu runs till 30 June so go get some before it ends!

P.S. There is a (unisex) prayer room right across from the Viewing Deck with a sink for ablution, but it fits only one person at a time so do take note!

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 259569
Reservations: call +65 8444 1148 or email general.hsbg@halia.com.sg
Note: Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea

Opening Hours
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 effective 1 Jun 2017
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Favourite Dishes: Boston Bay Mussels, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemongrass & Ginger Salad
Remarks: Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017, but the featured dishes remain on the ala carte menu thereafter

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Great World City

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
#01-18/19, Great World City
1 Kim Seng Promenade
Singapore 237994

Opening Hours
Sun-Thu: 8am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 8am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: N.A. as I was invited for a tasting!
Recommended dishes: Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90), Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90)

Hey guys! It is officially Day 15 of Ramadan!!! How did 2 weeks go by just like that good grief. I’ve been SO tired and weak all the time; I’m sure it’s the same for you guys. Having to wake up for sahur every morning is quite disruptive to a late-sleeper like myself, so yeah I’ve been super guilty of going back to bed after subuh, only to sleep through my alarm when I have to be up 2 hours later.

And ok fine I’ve been staying up late watching episodes of House of Cards Season 5 also, so I fully deserve this wrecked-ness but boy it’s worth it. I can’t deal with how much I love Robin Wright as Claire Underwood (she was Jenny in Forrest Gump!!!) You guys should totally get on House of Cards S5 right now! Also she plays Gal Gadot’s aunt Antiope in Wonder Woman, which was BRILLLZZZZZ in case you guys haven’t caught it.

OK so where were we. Ah, yes, FOOOOD. A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to try out the new Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf menu items. I’ll be honest with you I’m more of a Starbucks girl (only because there’s a Starbucks at my office lobby) but guess what all Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets are halal-certified, which means you can eat the food with abandon! You can verify by clicking on the MUIS list of halal eating establishments here! (If the link doesn’t work, click here and then go to the left of the page and click on “List of MUIS Halal Certified Eating Establishment” 🙂

My friend and I went to the one at Great World City because it was a Friday night and we wanted to pick a less busy one.

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Mad lepak vibezzz. I didn’t ask those 2 women to pretend to laugh I swear.

Here is a look at the food menu with the new items marked out!

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Me being so extra LOL

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Featuring new items Avocado Tuna Melt (S$13.90) and the Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90)!

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Featuring new items the Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90), Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich (S$10.50) and Creamy Seafood Fusilli (S$14.90)

We started with the Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90), which has turkey ham, eggs, feta cheese spinach and tomatoes on Vienna bread (a yeasty bread with a thin, crispy crust and a light texture, perfect for sammiches!), with a side of sautéed mushrooms.

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Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90) – 9/10

Oh wow, I did not expect to but I ended up really liking this sandwich!! Firstly, did you guys also think the yellow fluffy thing on top was scrambled eggs? BECAUSE I TOTALLY DID before finding out that no, that was just the hollandaise sauce. And oh boy the hollandaise sauce was phenoms. It was just so soft and fluffy and lightly savoury, which made for the perfect sandwich companion. The turkey ham had really good bite and was not overly salty; underneath it the spinach added a crunchy texture. I could also taste some sweet onions together with the spinach. You guys know I hate onions, but this particular combination in the Mediterranean sandwich just worked. A solid 9/10 for this!

Next we had our second sandwich, the Avocado Tuna Melt (S$13.90) featuring an avocado tuna mix, olives, lettuce and tomatoes covered with emmental cheese on Vienna bread with a side of potatoes with bacon bits!

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Avocado Tuna Melt (S$13.90) – 6/10

I found this a little disappointing – I know maybe I expected too much going into this but I thought there was going to be discernible chunks of avocado, and there weren’t. It seems the avocado was stirred in with the tuna, but we really didn’t taste much of it. The tuna also lacked flavour, boo. On the plus side the potatoes were nice and soft, and I really liked the bacon bits for that added umami punch! Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to save this dish 😦 I will def give this a pass next time. 6/10

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Just gonna close this right back LOL

After these two we moved away from breakfast to the all-day-dining menu, starting with the Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90) which featured salad greens, cranberries, and sliced almonds in salad dressing:

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Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90) – 9/10

MMM yum you guys I really liked this and I’m not even big on salads. The smoked chicken taste closely resembled that of smoked duck, which I love. The meat was firm, juicy and with good bite! As with smoked items it was a little salty but I thought it was perfect. The dressing was DELICIOUS! It’s almost like Japanese wafu dressing, slightly sweet, slightly savoury, and with a sesame taste. Boy, you can make me eat all kinds of vegetables with that dressing. Plus, the sliced almonds provided a great crunch to the salad, while the cranberries paired perfectly with the salty taste of the smoked chicken. VERY satisfying for a salad. 9/10

Next up we had YET another sandwich, the Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich (S$10.50):

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Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich (S$10.50) – 7.5/10

OK so the chicken looks really gnarly here but I swear the honey mustard taste was really good! It was a little sweet, a little peppery, and with a hint of sesame too. The bread (I think it’s panini? – we get a choice of panini, ciabatta or whole wheat bread) held up well and was nicely chewy but light. HOWEVER, while objectively I think this sandwich is good, I don’t think I’ll get it anytime soon just because I don’t like chicken in this texture. It reminds me of those shitty sandwiches we used to get in secondary school canteens like tuna mayo or creamy chicken or whatever UGH. The kids would get them after school before getting on the bus to MOELC for 3rd language classes, and the whole bus would smell like these sandwiches and I’d feel queasy the whole ride ugh 😦 Haha sorry I guess this is when personal history gets in the way of objective reporting. 7.5/10 nonetheless.

FINALLY, finally, we got to our last dish, the Creamy Seafood Fusilli (S$14.90) with prawns and scallop:

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Creamy Seafood Fusilli (S$14.90) – 6.5/10

Hmm I was not terribly impressed by this pasta. I found that the cream sauce was a little too light – I mean I’m not looking for something totally gloppy or anything, but this was slightly watery. The fusilli was also rather starchy – I didn’t like the taste nor the texture. Pretty disappointing, so 6.5/10 for this!

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One of those #onthetable type shots lol but not as pretty lol

Overall I’d say The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has some very interesting new items on their food menu that are worth trying. I really wouldn’t mind popping in sometime for the Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90) or the Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90); these were impressive! I know my friends love the Breakfast Platter (S$12.90) but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet! If I do I’ll let you guys know 🙂

I’ll leave you guys with a couple more photos – I would really highly recommend visiting the Great World City CBTL! It’s so spacious and peaceful!

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Me asking questions and being all annoying to the friendly Store Manager Kamal at the Great World City CBTL – service was great here!

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They gave me a box of tea and a water bottle!!! So nice omg 😭

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
#01-18/19, Great World City
1 Kim Seng Promenade
Singapore 237994

Opening Hours
Sun-Thu: 8am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 8am to 11pm

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: N.A. as I was invited for a tasting!
Recommended dishes: Mediterranean Sandwich (S$13.90), Smoked Chicken Salad (S$11.90)