Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt @ The Arts House and Buona Terra @ Chateau TCC

I make it a habit to return to places that I like and thus, this is not my first visit to Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt. The restaurant is located on the second floor of one of Singapore’s most historically significant buildings, The Arts House.

The building was a Court House during the colonial years and then used for other official purposes in the years thereafter. It was only in 2004, that the building was transformed into The Arts House.

We started our meal with Le Veloute de Topinambour. Jerusalem artichoke veloute with parmesan emulsion and truffle. The artichoke is a pretty popular ingredient with restaurants at this time of the year as it is harvested from October to March.

Le Poulet Jaune d’Origine Francaise. Corn fed chicken from Landes, served with green peppers, cumin and carrots. The serving size was pretty measly. The chicken thigh and breast while tender, were as small as the mushroom that came with the dish.

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Kaffir & Lime: Sister Concept to ThaiExpress @ Paragon (Media Tasting)

This is my first time trying Kaffir & Lime, which is the sister brand of ThaiExpress, albeit a more upscale version. The restaurant is located at Paragon and while it is in the heart of Orchard Road, the prices of their premium dishes are rather affordable.

Kaffir & Lime had recently undergone a major revamp, from the fixings and upholstery to even the most minute details like plates and utensils. The restaurant space is now segmented into two areas, one for big groups and the other for couples and business meetings.

Chiang Mai Mango Blend ($6.50). A very thick and creamy mango smoothie!

Kaffir Spicy Mango Sparkle ($6.90), one of the two new mocktails (together with Lime & Blood Orange Cooler) created to celebrate the opening of the revamped restaurant.

Prawn Cake Donuts ($8.90), served with Thai sweet chilli dip. A very unique way of serving the usual prawn cakes!

Chicken & Shrimp Ball Kebab in Kaffir & Lime Sauce ($11), complemented with their special house sauce. If two sticks are one too many for you, you may choose to have a stick for $5.90.

Kaffir & Lime Beef Salad ($11.90). The salad primarily comprises of sliced beef in homemade Kaffir & Lime dressing, sitting atop fresh greens.

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Maggie Joan’s: A Secret Door in A Back Alley @ Amoy Street

Maggie Joan’s is located in a back alley along Gemmill Lane. The one very peculiar feature about the restaurant is that there is no means of access from the front. Rather, the entrance is a nondescript dark brown door, with only a simple black and white sign to indicate the presence of the restaurant.

As I entered the restaurant, I was led through the first dining area where a row of lacquer wooden tables lined the wall of the dimly lit room. We were guided towards the back of the restaurant, where we had “prime seats” facing the open kitchen. From there, I had a good view of the culinary team hard at work in the kitchen. By the way, both dining areas are dimly lit and rather chilly.

Appetisers:

Roast Jerusalem Artichoke & Manchego ($8). The artichoke tasted strangely like potatoes. It was liberally topped with sesame seeds and ivory-yellow Spanish manchego cheese. The light and buttery texture of the cheese complimented the artichoke.

Egg, Dukkah & Saffron Mayo ($6). If you have been following social media, this is touted as one of the best dishes at Maggie Joan’s. And it is true. The dish was executed perfectly. With just a slice, the yolk burst through, intermingling with the flavourful spice mix.

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Flavours of Hakodate at Kuishin Bo @ Suntec City (Media Tasting)

When someone asks about Japanese buffet in Singapore, Kuishin Bo will usually be the one that comes to mind. This restaurant as been a part of the Singapore food scene since 2001 and has been recognised for both its range and quality of food. The brand currently has two outlets, one at Jurong Point and the other at Suntec City.

The ongoing year-end installment of their quarterly thematic food fairs features specialties from Hakodate, a port city in Hokkaido (one I originally intended to visit for my trip later this month, but it s a eight-hours round trip from Sapporo). You will find an additional 17 seasonal food items to its existing range of food.

Some of the food items from the Hakodate collection are:

Tori Zangi, (a term exclusively used in Hokkaido) which is a type of fried chicken typically known as karaage in other parts of Japan.

Pumpkin Zenzai, highlighting the most common ingredient in Japanese traditional desserts… Red bean! Hokkaido is famous for its red beans due to its rich volcanic soil. The dessert here is paired with pumpkin and mochi.

Hokkaido Jaga Butter Cake. A fluffy cheesecake infused with potato butter. This is just one example of the many snacks and confectioneries in Hokkaido made using potatoes.

Tonyu Ishikari Nabe, which is a dish of salmon and assorted vegetables cooked in miso soymilk broth that originated centuries ago in Hokkaido. It is also named after the Ishikari-gawa River which is famous for salmon.

In addition to this, we enjoyed their usual spread of seafood, sashimi, sushi, paper hotpots, grilled and fried foods, as well as desserts.

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A True Taste of Hakata Mizutaki at 鶏金 Torikin @ Crown Centre (Media Tasting)

Other than Crown Bakery, Crown Centre has another interesting food outlet that has been attracting patrons! It is none other than Torikin, a chicken collagen hot pot restaurant established in November 2014. It is the first overseas venture of Kyushu based Ishada Kikaku Group. The restaurant is staffed by both Japanese and locals to ensure that customers can get to taste authentic food from Kyushu.

We started with a Daikon Salad ($9,80), which was served in a cute little bowl with greens and tomatoes. It was an appetising start to our dinner.

Oden ($14 for 5 pieces), a Japanese version of yong tau foo, with yellow mustard on the side. We were served some konnyaku made of potato starch (good for digestion), mochi and fishcakes. According to the staff, the fishcake is originally white, but because it has been cooked in the soup base, it is slightly brown. By the way, the soup stock base is made with bonito.

Tonpei Yaki ($22.80), a type of okonomi yaki, is a must-try here. This is served on a sizzling special earthenware plate and is best eaten hot. The aroma as it was cooking on the plate made us salivate. This is served with pork and vegetables, and then topped with mayonnaise, tonkatsu sauce and chopped spring onions. Compared to the usual okonomi yaki, this has more egg and less flour.

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