O-An Japanese Restaurant

I've long heard about this Japanese restaurant located at the basement of Hong Leong Building. Apparently, it's been around since the 90's and it's known for its cheap prices and generous portions. We had lunch here one day on an especially damp and dreary afternoon.

I got the Nikuyasai Set ($12) of stir-fried vegetables with pork.

This was a little salty but those who prefer salty food will like the stronger soy flavours, and I deducted points because they left the heads and tails on the beansprouts. The sliced pork was a little tough as well.

I'm not usually a fan of Egg Mayonnaise but this was done very well, mayo was light and didn't overwhelm the diced egg.

The Pickles are like our Chinese "Xian Cai". Very piquant and crunchy.

Ms PR got the Nabeyaki Udon Set ($15).

The Udon was thick, chewy and springy. Stock was well-flavoured, though loaded with the usual MSG that the Japanese are known for.

Mixed Tempura was served on the side, lightly battered and crispy.

Mr Harvest-The-Crops got the Wednesday Una Don Set ($9.80), which he polished off in minutes. Really.

The Grilled Eel Rice was suitably sticky and soft, and a sweet smoky yakitori sauce was brushed liberally over the eel and drizzled over the rice.

The Chashu Ramen ($15) in Tonkotsu Broth wasn't half bad. Egg was done perfectly, with a soft, barely runny yolk and wobbly white, but the grilled pork could have been more tender.

O-An Japanese Restaurant
16 Raffles Quay
Hong Leong Building
Tel: 6221 7781
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10pm
Saturdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm


Coffee Club, Raffles City Shopping Centre

It must have been about 8 years since I last caught up with Jer and it was so wonderful that we just picked up where we left off. It's amazing how we've both evolved, separately, from being party animals to settled-down persons. We met for dinner at Coffee Club at Raffles City, as it's got a fairly quiet ambiance in contrast to the very lively food basement.

The western cuisine at Coffee Club is usually quite good, so I was surprised that our food choices that day just fell flat.

The Spicy Beef and Pineapple Sandwich ($13.50), with pineapple salsa and spicy sliced beef made for a tantalising introduction, but the creamy mayonnaise dressing was an unsavoury combination to the otherwise smash hit.

The sauerkraut, tangy, grill-caramelised pineapples, spiced beef, and creamy mayonnaise created a catastrophe of flavours that just didn't work. They all just clashed terribly.

The Skipper's Delight Penne ($13.90) of dory fillets encrusted with rosemary, garlic and lemon was set atop a bed of penne and slathered in robust lobster sauce wasn't much better. The herb crust made the fish very dry, and the lobster sauce was sickeningly rich. I didn't finish my dish.

Their drinks were still good though. The Iced Macadamia Nut Coffee ($6.50) was fully-flavoured, with just a hint of rich nutty macadamia.

I liked how the lychee bits lent texture in the milkshake-like Strawberry Lychee Smoothie ($6.50).

Coffee Club
252 North Bridge Road #03-30
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6336 8208
Open daily from 10am to 10pm
Website: www.coffeeclubworld.com


Peach Blossoms

Peach Blossoms is housed on the third floor of Marina Mandarin Hotel.  Having eaten here a couple of times, this unconventional Cantonese restaurant, which attempts to fuse the traditional with the modern, is relatively lackluster. The dishes tend to be very run-of-the-mill, and for its price-points, we would have expected a lot more quality.

For example, the waiter recommended their house-made peach tea, which admittedly, was a large tall glass, and had cubed peaches in the tea. It was very similar to Snapple's Peach Tea, but it cost a whopping $12! Granted, it was fairly good, but not worth its $12 price-tag.

The Barbecued Pork Glazed with Honey Sauce ($22) was not too shabby, although the pork could have been more tender and juicy. The highlight of this roasted meat was the honey glaze, smoky and sweet without being saccharine, and it brought out the smokiness of the roast.

We liked the Poached Local Spinach with "Tri-Egg" Style ($18), the stock was light, with a hint of sandiness from the salted egg yolk. That said, it was no better than Crystal Jade's version.

The slightly grainy texture of the Congee with Scallops and Conpoy ($12) could have been smoother and more fluid, like how the Cantonese do it. This was very very delicate and simply flavoured though, relying on the umami taste of dried scallops to season the porridge. They were very generous with the plump and fresh scallops though.

The Wok-Fried Chicken with Shallots and Ginger served in Claypot ($24) was rich, robust and strongly seasoned, peppers were added for a peppery kick. Even the tender chicken chunks weren't enough to lift the dish from the doldrums of mediocrity.

I thought there was too much vinegar in the Hot & Sour Seafood Soup ($12), but the Fiance liked the piquant edge of the starchy soup. The fishy diced prawns were also a turn-off.

Candied Walnuts were a nice appetizer, they had a nice roasted toasted flavour and sugared coating.

Peach Blossoms
Marina Mandarin Singapore
Level 5
6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 6845 1000
Opens daily from noon to 2.30pm for lunches and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinners


Kitakata Co, Market Street Carpark

A bunch of us went to Market Street Carpark to have lunch. I've noticed the high turnover in restaurants situated at this building, normally known for its carpark space in the CBD area. Apart from The Soup Spoon and Coffee Club, no other restaurant has lasted more than a few years at this locale.

Kitakata Co. Pte Ltd is a new-ish Japanese restaurant next to R-Burgers.

The Chicken Katsu Don ($11.50) was lackluster. The rice should have been all soft and mashed, almost creamy, but it was drier than it should have been. The chicken cutlet was dry and tough, even the omelette coating couldn't save the re-fried meat.

The Chashu Ramen ($12) was barely passable, noodles were soggy and soup base was MSG-laden. 

The one good thing about this dish was the shoyu-infused grilled fatty pork.

Save for the creamy curry gravy, the Katsu Don Curry ($11.50) was a disappointment, the pork had been re-fried so it was very tough and chewy, but what made it worse was the faint sour aftertaste of the not-fresh pork.

Update 2 Oct 2011: Market Street Carpark has been demolished.

Kitakata Co. Pte Ltd
146 Market Street
Market Street Carpark
Tel: 6536 4512
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11am to 5pm


The Soup Spoon, Tanjong Pagar MRT

It was a damp rainy day and we all wanted something comforting and soupy to warm our bellies so we headed to The Soup Spoon at the basement of Tanjong Pagar MRT for lunch.

The Bread Bowl Experience allows you the option to have your soup served in a bread bowl. Flaky on top, toasted and chewy at the bottom.

This was the Velvety Mushroom Stroganoff in a Bread Bowl ($11.70).

The Boston Clam Chowder ($6.90 for regular) marries juicy clams with chunky celery, potatoes and peppers in a creamy rich chowder. The good thing about the complimentary bread is that it's always served fresh, so it's soft and fluffy. Perfect for soaking up the remnants of the creamy soup.

The smooth chewy clams are contrasted against the crunchy peppers and celery.

The Tokyo Chicken Stew ($6.60 for regular) is clear and delicate, with Japanese mirin and sake flavouring the soup base, and lotus root, shitake, enoki, white radish and bamboo shoots thrown in for an Oriental flair.

Succulent chicken thigh pieces marinated in teriyaki sauce are delectable and tasty.

This is the grande version of the Velvety Mushroom Stroganoff ($8).

This was earthy, chunky and rich, I tasted shitake, enoki, brown, white and shimeiji varieties.

The Soup Spoon
120 Maxwell Road
Tanjong Pagar MRT B1-31
Tel: 6222 0272
Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays from 10.30am to 9pm
Saturdays from 11am to 4pm

Closed on Sundays
Website: www.thesoupspoon.com


Gulf Beach Lebanese Restaurant & Cafe, Arab Street

We were in the Arab St area and wanted a late night snack. The last time I came here was when we went to Cafe Le Caire next door when I needed some post-clubbing sustenance. We chose to dine at this newly opened restaurant instead because it provided some kind of air-conditioning. But, it wasn't like this restaurant was that much better. The air-conditioning was obviously wonky, so the staff put out a couple of fans in the dining area. It was barely cooler than sitting outdoors in the very humid and warm night. 

The Farrouj Mechwi ($15) is a boneless chicken thigh patty marinated with a medley Lebanese spices, garlic and lemon juice, char-grilled.  This wasn't half bad, it was aromatic and exotic,while tender and juicy, even if a frozen piece of meat was used and it wasn't very impressive at all. 

This was served with some kind of horrendous mushroom soup. It was a monstrosity of a soup, terribly watery and weak, starched up by plain cornflour.This is one instance I thought it was better for a restaurant not to have served a free dish.

I didn't think the addition of a couple of sliced canned champignon mushrooms were enough to save the soup.

Gulf Beach Lebanese Restaurant & Cafe
41 Arab Street
Tel: 6292 2330
Opening hours
Monday to Thursday from 12noon to 12am
Friday & Saturday from 2pm to 2am
Sunday from 5.30pm to 12midnight



You know how it is, we females are hit by our cravings every time we PMS. For me, my PMS cravings are carbs. For most of my gal pals, it's chocolates. I know I'm PMS-ing when I start hankering for all things starchy and sweet.

As I was craving risotto, Lips and I went to Prego after ditching our other halves for a girls' only night out. Yes, we may be the most sticky of couples, but we do have our own lives and go out with our friends without our respective man-candies on our arms.

The Braised Chicken Risotto ($34) was cooked in a hearty, chicken stew-ish style, chunked up by diced carrots, celery, olives and pinenuts. I loved this for its rustic, summer-ish flavours.

The Risotto del Giorno ($35) was the daily special with pork sausage and a perfectly sunny-side egg yolk. This is like the Italian version of our local breakfast porridge. Creamy, soft and yet discernible rice grains in a delicate cheesy base with juicy pork sausages, this was pure comfort food.

Level 1, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel: 6431 5156
Open daily for breakfast from 6am to 11am, lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm


Hansang Korean Family Restaurant, Novena Square 2

The third floor of Novena Square 2 has been dubbed "Little Korea" due to the prevalence of Korean-centric shops. There's a Korean supermarket, at least 2 Korean restaurants and a whole bunch of hole-in-the-wall fashion shops selling clothes imported from Korea.

We were there one evening and were enticed by the delicious smells wafting from Hansang Korean Family Restaurant. One part of the restaurant is reserved for those having Korean BBQ and the other part is solely for diners not having the Korean BBQ. This separateness is great because you don't walk out smelling of bulgogi.

A unique dining feature here is that they actually serve an Amuse Bouche of sorts. The trio of bite-sized bits heralded the start of a good meal.

The toasted Broad Beans were served at room temperature, with a savoury taste to the creamy nutty texture.

The Pumpkin Squash was a sweet, creamy and light mash.

The Fried Mini Shrimp was salty, mildly spicy and crunchy.

The Side Dishes were all yummy. My favourite Poached Spinach was simply flavoured with sesame seeds and soy.

This was like a Korean version of our local achar, pickled vegetables which was piquant and lightly spiced.

Despite the deceptively fiery hue, the Pickled Radish was really not spicy at all. A little paprika as sprinkled for sweetness on the crunchy chilled radish cubes.

The Beansprouts were clear and refreshing.

The Lotus Root was well braised, flavoursome and crunchy, served chilled for a refreshing touch.

The Fishcake was nicely chewy and bouncy.

The Samgye-Tang ($23) Ginseng Chicken Soup was really really delicious. The soup was delicate and clear, with the delectable earthy aftertaste of Korean ginseng root. Red dates sweetened the soup base lightly, while gingko nuts lent a luxe touch.

The Glutinous rice stuffing made for a substantial meal in itself.

Hansang Korean Family Restaurant
10 Sinaran Drive
#03-33 Novena Square 2
Tel: 6397 6752
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30pm to 10pm;
Saturdays and Sundays from 11.30am to 10pm
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