Alexandra Village Food Centre

We're slowly eating our way through Alexandra Village Food Centre, a sprawling hawker centre that's most active weekday afternoons. Most stalls cater to the working crowd drawn from the factories/offices nearby, so while the stalls are inundated with long snaking lines of the lunch hour crowd, it's really the best indicator of which stalls to patronize. 

Hong Kong Yummy Soup

I see a lot of OLs ("office ladies") here. The steamed soups are about the most nutritious food you can get in a hawker centre, where lard and oil and salt are chief components of a chef's repetoire. The soups are more rustic than what you'd get at a fine-dining restaurant, or at home, but hey, at about $4 a bowl of steaming wholesome goodness, who's complaining? The Spare Ribs Soup with Winter Melon ($3.50), brewed for its "cooling properties", is wonderfully delightful in our sweltering heat.

Stall facade for reference

Hong Kong Yummy Soup #01-51


Leon Kee Claypot Bak Kut Teh

The KL-styled Bak Kut Teh ($4.50), thick with the herbal tones of dang gui, wasn't as heady as I'd expected. I prefer this, as the robust ones tend to give me pounding headache. The pork ribs were tender and lined with fat, maximising juiciness. A necessary accompaniment, fried dough fritters ($1) were on hand to soak up the porky soup.

Leon Kee Bak Kut Teh #01-18
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 8am to 10pm; Closed on Wednesday


106 Nasi Lemak

The Nasi Lemak ($3.50) was pretty decent; fluffy rice fragrant with coconut was topped with fried chicken wing that was succulent and crispy, a semi-fried egg that still had runny yolks, and a mildly spiced otak. Loved the punchy sambal that was as sweet as it was spicy.

Stall facade for reference

106 Nasi Lemak #01-12
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 7pm; Closed on Sundays


Alexandra Village Food Centre
Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1


Krua Chao Baan, Koh Samui

There are 3 premier seafood joints in Koh Samui, Sabieng Lay, Tarau Samui and Krua Chao Baan, the last being the most prolific. It'd been highly recommended by friends, and it was right on Lamai Beach where we were staying.

The open-air restaurant is a rustic scenic seafood shack along the seashore (try saying out loud ten times), so even in the heat of the day, breezy with a faint scent of sea spray. Like any other seafood joint on Thailand's beaches, prices are marked up for tourists and spice levels watered down. Still, the price points are cheaper than what we're offered in Singapore, the seafood's swimmingly fresh, and Thai food deliciously authentic. In any case, be sure to ask for "really spicy" if you want a truly authentic Thai flavour.

The Fried Pork with Chilli & Basil (THB150/S$6) was moist and robust and punchy. 

The ubiquitous Tom Yum Kung (THB150/S$6), generously dotted with fresh bouncy shrimp and straw mushrooms, was a tingly lively balance of the spicy and sour.

The Green Curry with Chicken (THB150/S$6), sumptuous and creamy, was laced with plentiful green beans, baby corn, baby eggplant and cauliflower for crunch.

A must-try, the Deep-Fried Snapper with Garlic & Pepper (THB400 per kg/S$16) had beautifully crisp skin, and still moist flaky flesh. We picked this clean off the bones.

The Prawn Phad Thai in Omelette (THB135/S$5.50) was just so-so, but immediately elevated by copious lashings of the excellent green curry gravy.

Krua Chao Baan
438/18 Moo 1, Maret
Lamai Beach 
Koh Samui
Tel: 077-418-589, 087-893-7766, 089-009-5560
Open daily from 10am to 10pm 


D9 Cakery, Hilton Singapore

D9 Cakery is the reincarnation of Checkers Deli, the in-house patisserie of Hilton Hotel. They've been renowned for their luscious cheesecakes for as long as I can remember. The bakery is now spiffier, and in addition to the classic American cheesecake, they now offer up to 8 variants of their bestseller, but my take is to stick to the classic; I didn't think their fruity variants were as outstanding.  A tip here for the peck-ish, they've complimentary truffles and pralines for sampling!! Hur!! (In case you can't tell, the cheapo Singaporean in me is whooping for joy right now)

The Pineapple Cheesecake ($8) fusion was a little odd, and I thought the pineapple overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the cheese.

The Blueberry Cheesecake ($8) fared better; the blueberry accents were complementary rather than competitive.

D9 Cakery
Hilton Hotel Singapore
581 Orchard Road
Tel: 6737 2233
Open daily from 9.30am to 9.30pm


Culina Enoteca Dempsey Bistro

Culina, the expat butcher of choice, has finally ventured into the bistro business. Whereas they previously were just a gourmet grocer cum butchery, Culina now serves up a fairly extensive menu of European cuisine. Their flagship bistro is located in the lush Dempsey Hills, facing the similarly-conceptualised Jones the Grocer. But unlike the inconsistent, middling fare at Jones the Grocer, we thought the food at Culina was well-executed and refined; a delicate hand had been employed to highlight the sparkling freshness of the ingredients here. 

The Pan-Roasted Atlantic Cod ($33) was stellar, moist and flaky and torched with just the right amount of caramelization. Sauteed endives, wilted spinach and crunchy hazelnuts lent texture, while a luscious brown butter sauce accented with capers provided libation.

The Beef Brisket & Portobello Mushroom Pot Pie ($32) was well-rounded, hearty and heftily portioned.

But, I wish they were just as generous with the gravy as they were the beef; there wasn't enough gravy to mop up the buttery pastry top. 

The Truffled Mac & Cheese ($18) hit all the right flavour points but was unevenly yoked. The top layers were a bit dry, while the bottom was flooded with bechamel. We had to toss this up on our own.

The complimentary Bread Rolls were superb; crusty, fragrant and piping hot.

Culina Dempsey Bistro
Blk 8 Dempsey Road #01-13
Dempsey Hill
Tel: 6854 8703
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 8pm;
Sundays and PH from 9am to 6pm
Website: www.culina.com.sg


L'entrecote the French Brasserie

The Hubs' been feeling more like 'The Tubbs' lately, so we thought we'd cut out carbs for the week. Our first attempt at a carb-free diet was dinner at L'entrecote, a French steakhouse renown for offering just 1 dish - steak and fries. To be as successful as it is, over just a single offering, is no mean feat, so we thought their steak had got to be something special.

It was ironic then, that the steak turned out disappointingly pedestrian, while the carby sides fared fantastically. So much for our diet plans...it apparently tanked spectacularly...oh well! On the upside, the price-points were affordably-mass-market and wallet-friendly. Just be sure to tamper your expectations accordingly.

Service was a tad surly, and inexplicably, hurried. They kept returning to clear our plates despite my clear intention to nibble through my rice and cheese languidly. It was quite the throwback to my childhood, when I was pressured to finish my dinner fast.

The Entrecote Steak ($29.90 for classic), trimmed and served with a mustard-tinged gravy, and shoestring fries, was nice in an amateur-ish way, and far from outstanding. And, despite the menu's claim that the sauce was "legendary", I thought the mustard's sharp bite overwhelmed the steak.  

The Walnut Salad, a ride-along to the steak, was pleasant, but also uninspired.

The Le Bar ($17), a moist flaky seabass fillet with a medley of steamed root vegetables and a delicate lemon butter sauce was pretty decent. I thought the vegetables were superb, mostly because the butter coating was simply luscious. 

We opted for a premium alternative of Truffle Fries (+$3 for unlimited flow) to the usual fries, which was superb as well. Wonderfully aromatic and crisp.

The other white meat, Le Poulet ($14), a succulent roasted chicken fillet, was sided by an amazingly addictive buttered rice and steamed vegetables. I'd return just for the rice alone, it's that awesome.

Cheese aficionados will love the Le Fromage ($20), a slab of aged brie accented with black truffle and accompanied by a bunch of walnuts and crusty baguette. This was just glorious, the heady fragrance of truffle balanced out by the sharp pungency of the cheese.

The Coulant Caramel au Beurre Sale ($15) of salted butter caramel lava cake sounded promising, but was more kueh-like than cake-like. Really mediocre stuff. They'd run out of ice-cream so we got this with a moist warm gooey chocolate mousse instead.

L'entrecote the French Brasserie
Suntec City B1-128
Tel: 6690 7569
Open daily from 11.30am to 9.30pm
Website: lentrecote.sg


Antoinette, Mandarin Gallery

It's a little-known fact that dessert specialist Antoinette also serves up a worthwhile brunch. They've recently refreshed their menu, and while signature mainstays like their egg-cellent egg gratin have been retained, they've added a couple of newbies that are absolutely smashing. Best of all, their breakfast eggs are available all-day, all-week.

The Fried Eggs with Ratatouille ($16.50), choc-a-bloc with tomatoes, onions, zucchini and peppers, was sided by silky ribbons of serrano ham, crusty levain bread and balsamic-dressed mesclun.

The L'oeufs en Meurette ($17.50) was a duo of poached eggs swimming in a delicate red wine sauce littered with bacon lardons, sauteed mushrooms, and pearl onions. Toasty levain bread were on hand to mop up every last bit of the sauce, while the house salad lent a piquant contrast.

The Wagyu Agnolotti ($28) of pasta pockets stuffed with ricotta, blanketed in a wagyu beef ragout and showered with parmigiano shavings, was rustic and hearty.

333A Orchard Road
Mandarin Gallery #02-33
Tel: 68369209
Open daily from 11am to 10pm
Website: antoinette.com.sg

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