Pho 99 Vietnamese Delights

A bunch of us went to Pho 99 for a light lunch. Vietnamese food is characterized by light and clear flavours, so one doesn't go back to the office feeling bloated and/or full.

The Pho Bo Vien Nam ($8) was generously served with tender sliced beef and beef balls in a robust but light beef broth.

The Beef Ball Pho Bo ($8) was also slurpilicious. The steaming hot soup was heady, but still very light.

I wasn't too hungry, so I got the Pho Ga ($7) chicken soup, sans noodles. This was chicken soup for the soul, Vietnamese style. It was a tad oily, but still very delicate and light, with crunchy beansprouts adding a refreshing element.

Another colleague also wasn't too hungry so lke me, he got the Pho Bo, sans noodles ($8).

Pho 99 Vietnamese Delights

57/58 Amoy Street
Tel: 9768 8735 / 6410 9600
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 9pm
Sundays & Public Holidays from 10am to 8pm


Lavender Food Centre, Hao Xiang

Lavender Food Centre isn't just good for the famous Kok Kee Wanton Noodles. There are also a couple of noteworthy cze char (local Chinese cooked food) stalls here. We like Hao Xiang, which serves up some pretty delectable cze char fare. 

Our favourite dish here is the Beancurd with Assorted Mushrooms ($10). Silky smooth beancurd, sliced Chinese black mushrooms and enoki mushrooms, sliced pork, fragrant garlic and oyster sauce make a luscious but delicate gravy. We regularly takeaway this dish here for dinner.

In comparison to the beancurd dish, the San Lao Hor Fan ($5) is only just average. The gravy is a little too starchy and the beansprouts aren't relieved off its heads and tails. That said, the fish is fresh and smooth and the flat rice noodles are soft and chewy.

The Yang Zou Fried Rice ($3) was better than the noodle dish. Each grain of rice was evenly fried and there was that smoky fragrance of a hot wok.

The Hotplate Venison ($15) was a wee bit salty, but the venison was fresh, without any trace of that yucky gamey taste. I liked that peppers were added to cut through the heaviness of the oil and oyster sauce gravy.

The Stall Front.

Update 20 August 2012: This is closed down

Hao Xiang International Pte Ltd
Unit #01-34
380 Jalan Besar
Lavender Food Centre
Open daily from 5pm to 12.30am


Starbucks Coffee, DBS Tower II

Ms PR, Mr Harvest-The-Crops and I went out for lunch. None of us was particularly hungry so we went to Starbucks to chill.

I got the Raspberry Tea Blended ($5.50), a gorgeous pink blend of raspberry essence and chai tea with ice.

Mr Harvest-The-Crops got the Mango PassionFruit Tea Blended ($5.50), which was refreshingly sweet. Funnily enough, he didn't like it. Oh well, I liked it.

We shared a Potato Salad ($5) of red russet potatoes with low fat mustard mayonnaise, butterhead lettuce, red onions, celery, gherkin and black pepper. This was surprisingly light, with tangy mustard cutting through the richness of mayonnaise.

The Ham Sandwich ($4) was simple classic fare done well. Lightly toasted bread, salty picnic ham and a slice of smooth cheese.

For dessert, we shared a giant Oatmeal Raisin Cookie ($3.90). This was crumbly, buttery and slightly chewy.

Starbucks Coffee
DBS Tower II
6 Shenton Way
Tel: 6223 1657
Open from Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 9pm
Saturdays from 7.30am to 5pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Website: www.starbucks.com.sg


Adam Road Food Centre

Adam Road Food Centre is one of those late-night supper joints for teh halia and Indian-Muslim fried fare. My view's that the only food stalls here worth trying are the ones that serve Indian-Muslim fare. Whilst the Sultan of Brunei is known to take away hundreds of packets of nasi lemak from one of the stalls here, the rest of the food stalls are really quite forgettable. 

We ordered a plate of Bee Hoon Goreng Ikan Bilis ($3.50), which was pretty alright. The noodles were soft but retained a little bite, with a sweetish charred fragrance that comes only from a very hot wok. Chopped green vegetables, crisp ikan bilis, scrambled eggs and crunchy beansprouts balanced the flavours of the dish nicely.

The Stall Front.

We ordered a Chinese dish, Sliced Pork Prawn Noodles ($4), which was dismal. The bee hoon noodles were so thick, I didn't think it should have been called bee hoon. The prawn and pork rib soup base was so sweet it got cloying. At least the 3 prawns were fleshy and sweet.

The stall front. The noodles here didn't live up to expectations, despite a number of newspaper, tv, magazines and celebrity endorsements.

The Sambal Stingray ($8) was another disappointment. Despite its scarily fiery hue, the spice level of the sambal was way too watered down, and way too sugared.

The Stall Front.

Adam Road Food Centre


Braised Chinese Black Mushrooms with Fatt-Choy

We got a fabulously luxurious treat from Ms PR who'd brought some of her delicious home-cooked fare to the office to supplement lunch one day. She'd apparently taken 36 hours to braise the traditionally Chinese New Year festive dish. The resulting dish was a fragrant, rich and full-bodied, incredibly soft and earthy mushrooms, with dried scallops and oysters adding that luxe seafood element.


Swee Kee (Ka-Soh) Fishhead Noodle House, Amoy St

I met up with Guan for lunch. I see her about once a year, but it's so nice that we never fail to catch up where we left off. She's one of the most matured, witty and straightforward persons I've the pleasure of calling my friend. I love that despite the evolution of our personalities since our teenage years, our friendship has evolved together so we're still very much in sync.

We went to Swee Kee, or Ka Soh, along Amoy Street for lunch. This restaurant has been around since the 70s, so many would remember it from their childhood days.

We ordered the Prawn Paste Chicken ($8.50) which was standard fare. Fragrant, crispy flavourful skin with moist and juicy meat.

I got the San Lou Hor Fan ($6.50), or Sliced Fish Rice Noodles. Ka Soh does one of the best renditions of this dish. I like the fresh and smooth slices of fish smothered in the lusciously thick and full-bodied but still delicate gravy.

Guan got the Sliced Fish Noodles in Soup ($5.90). Even if the standard of this signature dish has dropped, the broth was still rich and the fish was still fresh. Although the restaurant claims not to have added any condensed milk into the broth, I could have swore that I tasted condensed milk in the soup.

This was Guan's recommendation of Sauteed Lettuce ($6.50). The refreshingly crunchy greens were stir-fried in a gravy that was buttery with a hint of aromatic garlic.

Swee Kee (Ka-Soh) Fishhead Noodle House
96 Amoy Street
Tel: 6224 9920
Open daily from 11.45am to 2.30pm for lunch and from 5.30pm to 10.45pm for dinner
Website: www.ka-soh.com.sg


The Sandwich Shop, Robinson Centre

Ms PR had been raving about this place for a while, and in a bid to eat more healthily, I opted to get lunch from The Sandwich Shop.

The Sandwich Shop is marketed at busy professionals who are looking for healthier meal choices, so its 4 branches are located at areas of business.

I got the Fruit Salad ($5), a medley of sweet melons, crunchy apples, tart strawberries, grapes and soft kiwis. Although this was pretty and a fairly big portion, I still felt that its $5 price-tag was too pricey.

The Spicy Thai Prawn Sandwich ($3.90) was definitely more value-for-money. This was freshly made on the spot and packaged in such an innovative way. The prawns were sweet and crunchy and the Thai chili sauce seasoning made this sandwich a pleasantly unique creation.

The Sandwich Shop
61 Robinson Road
Robinson Centre
Tel: 6536 5232
Open Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 6pm
Website: www.thesandwichshop.com.sg/


Two Chefs Eating Place

The one thing I noticed about the YOG being held in our little island is the massive traffic congestion throughout the island. It isn't just the small roads that are jammed up, even the traffic on the expressways is bumper-to-bumper. We were on our way to the gym after work one day but we were stuck in the horrendously terrible traffic along every other road. We gave up after more than an hour on the roads, and turned into Two Chefs at Commonwealth for an early dinner instead. We'd just go running late at night.

We got their Golden Mushroom Beancurd ($8), silky soft egg beancurd smothered in a minced pork and enoki mushroom oyster sauce gravy.

We also ordered the Vegetable with 3 Kinds of Eggs ($8). Despite the cholesterol-laden use of century eggs, salted eggs and chicken eggs, this was pleasantly delicate and light.

The Curry Fish Head ($18) was great comfort food, especially since it'd been drizzling the whole day. This thick, spicy, Nonya-style gravy was amazing with steaming hot white rice.

The fish was very fresh, soft, clean to the taste and flaky.

Two Chefs Eating Place
Blk 116 Commonwealth Drive
Tel: 6472 5361
Open Mondays from 5pm to 11.30pm for dinners, Closed every last Monday of the month;
Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.45am to 2.30pm for lunches and 5pm to 11.30pm for dinners


Starbucks Coffee, DBS Tower II

The Starbucks at DBS Tower II is one of my favourite lunch spots because it's great for chilling and people-watching. Their savoury pastries, though a little pricey, are pretty alright.

I like their Raspberry Cream Frappaccino ($5.50), a pretty baby-pink ice blended concoction of tart raspberry essence and vanilla cream. It's decadent but it's less sweet than you'd think.

The Black Pepper Chicken Puff ($3.90) is fairly portioned.

The flaky buttery pastry gives way to peppery chicken bits, cubed potato and mixed vegetables.

The Potato Curry Puff ($3.90) was similarly portioned.

The curry potato filling was moist, spicy and heady.

Starbucks Coffee
DBS Tower II
6 Shenton Way
Tel: 6223 1657
Open from Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 9pm
Saturdays from 7.30am to 5pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Website: www.starbucks.com.sg


Thai Express, Holland Village

Because Thai Express opens till late, it's our go-to place for quick and fuss-free Thai food after working out at the gym after work.

We needed the energy and protein so we ordered the Khao Ob Nam Leab ($9.90), olive fried rice with chicken. This beautifully purplish fried rice was moist and aromatic, with the distinctive nutty fragrance of olives. The chicken bits were a little dry though, having been re-fried.

The Thai-styled chicken soup, Kaeng Chued Kai Jiew ($6.90) was comforting and delicate, with smooth and tender chicken pieces with luscious egg drops.

As usual, we also got the Iced Lemongrass Tea ($4.90) that you can sweeten on your own, refreshing and slightly sweet.

Thai Express
Holland Village
16 Lorong Mambong
Tel : 6466 6766
Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday from 11.30am to 10.30pm
Friday and Saturday from 11.30am to 11.30pm
Sunday from 11.30am to 11.00pm
Website: www.thaiexpress.com.sg


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The Ogilvy Centre

I wanted something sweet after lunch so we went to Coffee Bean to get their ice blends. The sugar rush will ensure I don't fall asleep at work.

I got my favourite Berry'd Treasure ($5.90 for small), a sweet pink confection of vanilla powder, berry flavours and blended raspberries and strawberries. I like the little berry bits.

The Sunrise Ice-Blended ($5.80 for small) is another of my favourite drinks here, with orange juice blended with Coffee Bean's signature premium vanilla powder. It's refreshing and zesty. A real perk-me-up.

Update 21 Jan 2011: This Coffee Bean outlet has closed down, due to The Ogilvy Centre being refurbished into a hotel.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
The Ogilvy Centre
35 Robinson Road #01-02/06
Tel: 6222 2851
Open Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 8pm
Website: www.coffeebean.com.sg


Tien Court Restaurant

Tien Court is fast becoming one of our go-to places for a quiet and peaceful dinner. Even with a group of 2 families with their rambunctious kids in tow, the ambience was still very tranquil. We still felt like we were in our own little strawberry bubble filled world, away from the maddening bustle of the city.

We ordered the Pan-Fried Beancurd with Garlic Onion and Red Chilli ($13 for small) which was delicious. I loved the silky soft beancurd, the savoury luscious oyster sauce gravy, with spring onions lending a fresh accent and red chillis adding a little heat to the dish.

The Sauteed Beef with Beansprout with Superior Oyster Sauce ($20) was, however, a disappointment. The beef was a little tough and chewy. The marinade also hadn't had time to seep into the meat, so it was very bland. The beansprouts were good though, crunchy, juicy and sweet.

Their soups here are one of the best around. The broth is rich and ingredients always plentiful. Although the soup texture is thick, it never tastes very starchy. That's why I always order at least 2 portions of soup for myself. We got the Braised Assorted Seafood with Winter Melon Soup ($8), yummy as usual. I think I prefer this slightly over the beancurd soup.

The Braised Assorted Seafood with Beancurd Soup ($8) was also delicious, but a little more delicate than the winter melon soup.

Tien Court's appetizers are really quite unusual and exquisite. We thought this was the usual braised peanuts, but it turned out to be Braised Broad Beans ($3.50 for both appetizers). It was fragrant and flavoured really well.

The other appetizer was Chilled Beancurd Skin, the soft beancurd skin ribbons were refreshing yet delicate.

Tien Court Restaurant
Copthorne King's Hotel
Level 2
403 Havelock Road
Tel: 6318 3193
Opening hours:
Lunch from 12noon to 2.30pm
Dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm


Cherry Garden

I met up with Kong, a long-time friend, for dinner. Even though I haven't seen him for the past 3 years, it was so lovely that our friendship has remained exactly the same. We wanted a restaurant quiet and fairly private to facilitate our endless chatter so I brought him to Cherry Garden at the Mandarin Oriental.

Although the award-winning restaurant is right smack in the heart of the bustling Suntec / Marina Square area, it still manages to exclude a serene and tranquil atmosphere. I love it here, it's like stepping into another world, hidden away from the maddening crowd that throng the nearby malls.

The cuisine at Cherry Garden is predominantly Cantonese, with a modern take on traditional classics.

We ordered the Oven-Baked Spring Chicken in Barbecue Garlic Sauce ($22), which was one of the best renditions around. The chicken was moist and juicy, with incredibly crisp skin. The sweet garlicky fried onions and sesame sprinkles were an exquisite touch.

We also got the Vegetarian Fried Rice ($18). This purple-hued fried rice was smoky, delicate and mildly peppery. The addition of fish roe, freshly shredded crabmeat and diced melons made this dish a unique and luxurious offering.

The Braised Homemade Tofu with Monkey's Head Mushroom ($22) was another hit. The use of premium monkey's head mushroom was a nice touch. The mashed spinach encrusted beancurd was silky smooth, and the ginger-accented oyster sauce gravy was luscious. I loved chomping on the Chinese spinach served on the side.

Because one veggie dish wasn't enough, we also got the Sauteed Baby Pak Choy ($18), simple, light, crunchy and not too salty.

We also got the Fried Prawns with Garlic and Oats ($8 per 100g), deshelled for our convenience. The prawns were sweet, crunchy and fresh. Bits of savoury deep fried garlic and oats topped off the delectable dish.

We may have overordered, but we wouldn't miss out on Cherry Garden's exquisite and nourishing soups. I got the Double Boiled Chicken Consomme with Agaricus Mushrooms, Fish Maw and Water Chestnuts ($18). This was refreshing and delicate, but amazingly full-bodied from the hours of painstaking double-boiling.

The other soup was the Superior Broth with Shrimps, Scallops, Crabmeat, Conpoy and Maitake Mushrooms ($14), with a heavier seafood base. This was clear and light, but with depth of flavour.

We were served a complimentary Amuse Bouche of Sesame Ginger Chicken, to whet our appetites. This was deliciously sweet, soft and slightly peppery. 

Cherry Garden
The Mandarin Oriental
5 Raffles Ave
Level 5
Tel: 6338 0066 / 6885 3030
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
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