Dinner at Pepenero

So the original chef at Pepenero (Renato), of the lobster linguine with san marzano tomato sauce fame actually went back to Italy, and a new chef took over here. Which also means a menu revamp :( I really liked the previous menu! They had the best prosciutto wrapped scamorza and porcini I have ever had. The new offerings are not bad either, but the day we went they were out of their signature linguine all’astice and also the squid ink ravioli. Poor marks for that! Apparently there was a big lunch crowd that all ordered the seafood pastas. I really just came back here for that linguine :(

So I wound up having the pappardelle with deer meat, which truth be told, wasn’t all that bad, but it is no lobster linguine, as you know. The manager told us that the lobster sauce for their new lobster linguine is the chef’s secret recipe, and he adds bits of the tomalley to the sauce which boosts its flavour. The deer meat itself is tender and goes well with the parmesan and the relatively light sauce. Worth a try! The noodles are also very good.

LZ had the baked cod with tomato crust and potato spumante – a huge chunk of cod baked in a tomato crust. It was moist and exceedingly tender. I was surprised how well it went together! I guess having a crust around the filet packs the moisture and rendered fats in. The grilled vegetables were a perfect accompaniment.

For dessert we had the panna cotta infused with mint – they were out of the tiramisu. Hrm. The mint taste was really subtle (LZ said it made it taste like soy) but the panna cotta was pretty good.

Now the service needs to be worked on. They have a menu in Italian but none of the service staff speak it or know the Italian names of the various items on the menu. I ordered the linguine all’astice and had to repeat myself several times. I asked what the sauce of the the deer meat pappardelle was like (in English) and the staff just repeated blankly after me “what it’s like?” – I think she doesn’t even speak English. While I sympathize with the current manpower situation – it’s hard to find permanent waitstaff – you should at least hire someone who speaks English! When I finally got somebody who spoke English I asked if the deer meat sauce was like a bolognese and he said it was less wet than a bolognese, which is tomato based. I was like wtf?!, this guy has clearly never even been to Italy. Oh well. I think it’s kind of pricey for the quality, although of course their ingredients are well-sourced. The restaurant interior is kind of nice to sit and lounge around in though, they play some kind of new age-y music which is great for long dinner chats.


Dessert at St. Marc’s Cafe

We came here for dessert after watching Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight at Vivocity.

The Matcha nara parfait is not as good at Tsujiri in the 100am mall or even as good as the matcha parfaits in Nana’s Green Tea Cafe. It was passable though, I did like the matcha pudding although if it were matcha nama instead of matcha nara I think that would be preferable to everybody! They are famous for their chococros, which we didn’t get to try (yet). Still, it’s a decent dessert place in Vivo for afternoon tea.


Dessert at Honeymoon Desserts

Headed here to wait for Stephen Wiltshire while he was on his lunch break. :P We’d already eaten at Omakase Burger so only had room for dessert. It’s an affordable, no frills dessert place with quite a few options, but I don’t think their desserts are that well executed. I don’t really know many places with really good sesame paste and all that in Singapore though.

Black sesame paste with walnut paste – it was quite prettily marbled but there were bits of corn starch clumps in it which was sorta gross.

LZ got the Green tea ice cream with black glutinous rice over vanilla cream shavings. The vanilla cream and green tea ice cream was decent but the cold pulut hitam was bad, had weird chewy bits of rice, and was not very satisfying. So don’t order that as an add-on if you’re here!


Lunch at Menya Musashi

Quick lunch at Star Vista: this time trying the tsukumen.

Tsukumen with chashu – I’m not a big fan of their cha shu, which is slightly charred and not very tender nor lean. The broth is also a tad too salty; the Raffles City branch does a better tsukumen I think.

Tsukumen from the healthier angle :P I must say their ajitsuke tamago is well done, and so are the braised bamboo shoots.

Tsukumen dipping broth – rather salty

LZ got the “Black” tonkotsu lunch set which is also quite salty but less so than the tsukumen broth – I liked it quite a bit. I think the black color comes from ground black sesame seeds. They also have a “red” ramen soup flavour that perhaps has something to do with chilli.

All in all – meh. Best place for ramen in the area is still Sanpoutei at Holland V.


Lunch at Omakase Burger

We’ve been hearing a lot about this burger place in Turf City (also walked past it several times when we were dining at MAD) and I saw one outlet in Wisma Atria while shopping there the other day so decided to check it out! Verdict: The prices are a little steep for a burger joint but it DOES do one of the best burgers I’ve had in Singapore with a not-too thick patty (so you get more browned bits) and melts-just-right american cheese. But like, you could just go to New York and go to Shake Shack or go to In n Out. Or even Five Guys, Five Guys does a pretty decent burger. So yeah, in burger and cow-scarce Singapore, this is a real treat!

Had a bottle of cold home made Lemonade – actually I ordered lemon tea but I think the over-enthusiastic guy at the counter was a little hard of hearing.

We had their Cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon – so good. I love thin beef patties, and also, burgers that actually fit in your mouth. The bun was soft and toasted just right, but there could have been a little more bacon I think!

Cheeseburger with sauteed onions and mushrooms – again, not enough mushrooms, but the burger itself was very good and very juicy. Every single component was perfect.

The guy at the counter was extremely eager for us to try their fries fried in beef tallow – nothing special I thought! Yes there is an additional beef flavour to the fries but it isn’t as obvious as truffle fries or some of the other fries there I wanted to try. When someone else’s order of truffle fries came the beautiful smell wafted right across the restaurant to our table and I immediately regretted ordering my beef tallow fries :P The chilli cheese fries sounded really good too!

Don’t really get what is so “omakase” about this – there’s no fixed menu at all! But I’m not one to begrudge obsessive Japanese people who manage to recreate other cuisines with such finesse especially when they set up shop in Singapore!


Dinner at Tampopo, Liang Court

After walking past the outlet in takashimaya for years we finally gave the one in Liang Court a whirl after contemplating between all the other restaurants there. We really liked Tampopo! The menu is extensive and each item is well-prepared (well, apart from the grilled squid).

We started with the tamago sushi which was only like $2 or something. Hard to find in the menu, and I think it may not even be available in the Orchard branch. This was as good as tamago sushi can be I suppose.

They had (in addition to all the usual flavours like shoyu and tonkotsu) Kani ramen – which was crab meat ramen in a prawn/crab based broth. It was amazing! Like hay mee, but better because it had lots of crab. I think they used mock crab meat but it tasted really authentic and crabby :D

We also tried the truffle fried rice with black pork (one of the restaurant’s signatures) and the fried rice was amazing. It had lots of wok hei and truffle scent, and the black pork chunks in it were tender. I think this would be good with foie gras as well, but it’s really perfect the way it is.

The grilled squid was a little tough and the insides didn’t seem to be cleaned properly. It also didn’t seem that fresh and it was one of the things that nobody really wanted to finish.

Their black pork gyoza in a skillet was also a little porky tasting (not in a good way – more like in a dirty way) and they didn’t serve it with nearly enough vinegar/chilli oil.

Another of Tampopo’s specialties is their Katsu layered pork – it comes in 6 different styles (cheese, mentaiko, etc.) SL chose the tako style katsu and the pork layers really makes pork katsu taste more delicate than the chunky slabs of meat that are more colourless and rustic.

After dinner we headed to Dulcet Studio (I think they are co-owned by Tampopo) for some dessert. They are famous for their scoop cake and also the humongous cream puffs that don’t use choux pastry but are filled with incredibly fresh Japanese vanilla custard cream (like those in Beard papa). We tried the green tea chiffon cake – they like to ice their chiffon cakes with whipped cream frosting. It was quite good although I think the icing is slightly unnecessary.

The rose chiffon cake frosting has a hint of cream cheese in it, which turned me off the entire cake. If you like cream cheese or cheesecake in general you might like this. It’s bright pink though, which would be all food coloring, and the rose taste is not that strong, unlike the ispahan desserts in Paris. I have a pretty good recipe for a strawberry-rose cake (since strawberries in Singapore were really cheap last month) that I will post once I get the time.

All in all, I really liked the food at Tampopo and also at Dulcet Studio (I took home a matcha swiss roll which was really good and also 2 cream puffs) and they give a 10% discount coupon for your next meal there if you pay by DBS cards and order about $50 worth of food. The menu is so extensive and the little bit that we tried was so good it will be hard to try everything else since we’ll probably visit only when we’re craving truffle fried rice or layered katsu.


Dinner at New Ubin Seafood Restaurant, Sin Ming

We brought Fabio and Mingsee here for dinner (Fabio’s treat, not sure why. Apparently this blog brought his restaurant some custom!) We ordered a heckuva lot of food and it was all amazing.

Kailan stir-fried in garlic with seaweed – Didn’t really get the seaweed but the kailan in garlic was very nice! Lots of chinese wine flavour and wok hei.

Omelette with onion – one of mingsee’s and my cravings but this was pretty underwhelming compared to everything else they do so well.

Their fried hokkien mee is really good. They use a really strong prawn stock to fry it up with baby squid and cubes of deep fried lard and pork – one of the best hokkien mee’s I’ve ever had – very sweet and deep seafood flavours in here.

One of the stars of the show that Fabio wanted to order: grilled angus steak with beef dripping fried rice and fries. SO GOOD. I didn’t expect it to be and I’m not really a beef person but they certain do a really really awesome steak. The beef dripping fried rice is such a good idea to use up the beef fat that has rendered on the grill as well. This comes with a lot of carbs (which we weren’t really expecting) – the chips are really nicely fried too, so don’t load up too much on other carbs if you order this.

We tried the Ang Ka Hei in butter cream sauce and it was delightful. We also tried the cereal prawns two weeks later and I think the butter cream sauce is much better than their cereal rendition, where the cereal is not that crispy (though still nice). The butter cream sauce is like liquefied cereal, sweet and melds perfectly with the huge prawns.

The crispy baby squid were good but not mindblowing. The best baby squid I’ve had so far was at my dinner tasting at the Regent Hotel’s Summer Palace, where they are fried to a just right level of crispiness and are lightly glazed. Mind you there were just 4 of us polishing this entire thing off, so naturally the baby squid was a little sidelined.

Garlic baked crab – another show stopper. This is one of the best crab cooking styles they have, I think. The humongous cloves of garlic are soft and buttery and are great for sucking on with the crab meat, which even though they say is ‘baked’, doesn’t stick to the shell at all (I suspect they are steamed first? then baked? Not sure) – the crab flesh is really tender and fresh! They have a buy 2 get 1 free crab offer (each crab is $38) so it’s great if you’re here in a big group.

I really like the food here and it’s pretty value for money I think, given their amazing execution. It’s usually cool in the evening but there’s also an air-conditioned eating area for larger groups that one has to reserve in advance.