Kinki Japanese Restaurant + Bar

September's L.A. Lunch was held at Kinki, a Japanese restaurant that doubles up as a bar come nightfall. Its brilliant location on the second floor of Customs House ensures an expansive view of the Marina Bay waterfront.

While the quality of the food was generally fair, the prices made this place a no-go for future visits, especially since the portions of the ala carte dishes were quite miniscule. My tip is to only order the set meals as they are a lot more value-for-money. Or else, take a business associate there if an expense account is applicable.

Lunch was kicked off with a Sashimi Platter, consisting Maguro ($24 for 5 pcs), Kajiki ($20 for 5 pcs) and Sake ($18 for 5 pcs) which is essentially tuna, swordfish and salmon respectively. I liked the freshness and natural sweetness of the thickly sliced fish, but thought $62 for the entire platter was shockingly pricey.

The Tofu Steak Set Lunch ($18) comprised a grilled organic incredibly smooth tofu steak slathered in a fragrant garlic teriyaki sauce, then topped off with sauteed mountain vegetables and served with a side of juicy seasoned momotaro tomatoes.

I really loved the Pan-Seared Foie Gras & Scallop Sushi ($88 for 4 pcs) and Wagyu Aburi Sushi ($35 for 2 pcs). I'm not a fan of foie gras per se, but the melt-in-your-mouth goose liver married the fresh scallop perfectly, and the seared beef was also meltingly tender and flavoursome. Ridiculously expensive sushi, but memorably delicious.

The Sashimi Set with Rice ($38) was a favourite with the gals in my firm, fresh, plump sashimi paired with steamed rice made for a healthy and calorie-light meal.

The Sushi Set ($32) was another firm favourite with those watching their waistlines. These were fresh, light and well-made.

The Buta Sushi ($18 for 2 pcs) with a delectable topping of slow roasted pork belly was moist, flavoursome and decadently fatty, with a wrapping of seaweed lending dimension to the sushi. Still, it was a bit painful knowing each mouthful of sushi cost 9 whole buckaroos.

The Salmon Don Set ($26) made up of slices of cooked salmon atop pearl grains of moist rice, was a substantive but tasty set.

The Baked Scallop Maki ($24) was matched with sweet fleshy snow crab, and crunchy asparagus and cucumber.

The Prawn and Spicy Tuna Maki ($22) was a very nice savoury lightly battered prawn tempura roll stuffed with spicy tuna for contrast and flavour.

The Chirashi Don Set ($32), a Chef's daily special of premium seafood on rice was a medley of diced scrambled eggs, salmon sashimi, tuna sashimi, salmon roe, flying fish roe scattered atop sushi rice.

The Sake Teriyaki Set ($22) was made up of a grilled flaky salmon steak brushed with sweet teriyaki sauce.

The Amaebi Sashimi ($35 for 5 pcs) of sweet prawns lived up to its name, very sweet and delicate.

The Garlic Beef Set ($28) featured a U.S. prime grade beef coated in sweet yakitori sauce with golden crisp garlic and sliced onions sprinkled on top.

The beef was juicy and tasty, especially with the aromatic garlic slices.

The California Roll ($16) was very refreshing and light, with cool avocado stuffed together with crunchy cucumbers.

The Kurobuta Katsu Curry Set ($35) with a fat succulent patty of minced black pork cutlet was paired with a lusciously sweetish curry. Diced apples help lift the curry from its heavy peppery elements.

All of the sets were finished off with chewy and mildly sweet Mochi Balls.

This was the most popular dessert because they're just so light, scoops of Black Sesame Ice-Cream ($5), Matcha Ice-Cream ($5) Yuzu Sorbet ($5). My fave is the refreshingly citrusy yuzu flavour for its palate cleansing elements.

The Oreo Sesame ($12) was an indulgent black sesame ice-cream blended with oreos and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Kinki Japanese Restaurant + Bar
70 Collyer Quay
Customs House
Tel: 6533 3471
Open Mondays to Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunches
Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 10.30pm for dinners
Closed on Sundays
Website: www.kinki.com.sg


Fatty Weng Restaurant

It's been a while since we've double-dated with Beeps and her hubs. Now that there's 3 of them, with a baby boy in tow, it's harder to meet up with them. But it's nice that we still make time for each other. We were hankering for some cze char fare and revisited Fatty Weng, one of Beeps' favourite cze char places.

This old-school eatery may look unassuming, and almost derelict due to its open-air roadside location, harsh florescent lighting, and makeshift plastic tables and chairs, but it's a firm favourite of many Chinese tow-kays. While the food is a mixture of hits and misses (more hits than misses), I thought the prices, in general, were a little upmarket for a place like this. Still, they do good, familiar cze char fare that tends towards Cantonese favourites.

The Winter Melon Soup ($15), only available sporadically, but boy, is this good! A refreshingly delicate and clear broth is chunked up with diced carrots and meat in a hallowed out winter melon and steamed for hours so the nutrients of the winter melon seeps into the broth.

We scraped out the sides of the winter melon and slurped up the rich yet light soup. Nutritious, wholesome and utterly delicious.

The Ginger Spring Onion Chicken ($12) was very homestyled, and utilised the simpliest of seasoning, fresh spring onions and heaty ginger, to flavour the dish. Only gripe I had was that the chicken was very boney. Too little meat for such a dish.

The Black Pepper Beef ($12), in contrast to the chicken dish, was very robust, with a heady pepper gravy dousing the tender beef slices. A generous helping of crisp onions help lift this dish from its spiciness. Not very refined but comforting.

The Crabmeat Beancurd ($12) was quite disappointing, the beancurd waterlogged, the snow peas tasteless, and the crabmeat was of the frozen variety, so it had a fishy element to it.

The Spinach with Mushrooms ($15) was delicious though, plump, juicy, well-braised mushrooms, with simply sauteed spinach in a luscious oyster sauce gravy.

I didn't think the San Lao Hor Fan ($8) was that great, but Beeps certainly thought so. I felt that while the fish was fresh, the slices were a little too skinny, and the beansprouts should have been relieved off their heads and tails.

Fatty Weng Restaurant
90/92/94 Guillemard Road
Tel: 6345 2702
Open daily from 4pm to 2am


The Lounge, Intercontinental Singapore Hotel

I like chilling out at hotel lobby lounges. You're almost always ensured a tranquil setting, impeccable service and a classy crowd. If given a choice, I'd prefer meeting up with my friends at a hotel lobby lounge than at a coffee joint, mostly because you're guaranteed not to be disturbed by rambunctious noisy teenagers, or studious teenagers that don't seem to be able to find any other place than a bustling coffee joint to study and invariably end up hogging the very crammed tiny coffee tables. Yes, I'm old. 10 years ago, and I'll be one of those annoying teens, but now that I'm old(er), I like my peace and quiet.

The Intercontinental Singapore is within walking distance from home, so naturally, it's my default chillout spot. The ambience is relaxed and soothing, partly due to its setup as a Peranakan living room, and partly due to the light jazz and easy-listening hits belted out by the in-house piano player. Although the menu consists of a limited selection of light bites, you can request food from any other restaurants in the hotel to be served to you at the lounge. The staff are more than happy to oblige.

I usually just nurse a pot of mint tea, but today, I was hungry, so I got the Fried Char Kway Teow ($23). It wasn't hawker-fantastic, but it was satisfying. Pricey, but large in portion and generous with the prawns and squid (which were very fresh). 

The Lounge
Intercontinental Singapore Hotel First Floor
60 Middle Road
Tel: 6825 1046
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 8am to 1am,
Sundays from 8am to 12midnight


Peperoni Pizzeria, Binjai Park

Peperoni Pizzeria is the casual Italian arm of the Les Amis Group. Like fellow Italian joints Valentino's and Rubato, Peperoni is designed to be a neighbourhood eatery hidden deep in posh residential enclaves. Since the first Peperoni opened in 2007 at the affluent Greenwood area, it's since spawned another 2 outlets, also situated deep in the equally upscale neighbourhoods of Binjai Park and Frankel Ave.

The atmosphere here is convivial, laidback and very casual, tee-shirts, berms and sandals largely being the attire of choice here. The restaurant is catered to the immediate residential estate surrounding it because it's really quite hidden deep in the Binjal Park estate and out of the way from the main road. You really can't get in there unless you take a cab or drive, which brings on another set of problems...parking. My tip is to park anywhere you can slot your car into without blocking anyone's path and turn on the "Summons Auntie" app!

While the food at Peperoni is good and fairly consistent with the Les Amis standard, its inconvenient suburban location, and the fact that parking's a pain in the a*s, is why I wouldn't come back unless I'm in the area. If I'm craving Italian under the Les Amis group, I'd just go to La Strada, Peperoni's upmarket sister which is a lot more conveniently located at Shaw Lido. (Update 18 July 2012: La Strada has closed so I suppose I'm gonna have to head to Garibaldi instead for my Italian food fix)

We got 3 mains, 2 starters and 4 desserts to share amongst the 3 of us. The bill came up to $122 that night, which is really quite reasonable for a hearty meal.

The Pancetta ($19 for 9" medium) with premium salty bacon, juicy tangy tomatoes and a soft runny egg in the middle was a treat. We had a hoot smearing the perfectly soft egg into the pizza. A nice thin smoky crust was the perfect base to the simply topped pizza.

The Funghi ($19 for 9" medium), with its assortment of shitake, white button and porcini mushroom varieties was a delicious complement to the light cheese and tomato-based pizza.

I love portobello mushrooms and couldn't miss out on one of the two portobello starters. The Portobello "Niru" Style ($18) was a juicy deep-fried and breadcrumbed confection, slathered with a potently spicy chunky zucchini and olives laden arrabiata sauce.

The Mozzarella Fasciata Con Prosciutto ($17) was a pan-fried roll of chewy and milky buffalo mozzarella wrapped in salty prosciutto ham for flavour. A helping of bittersweet rocket leaves drizzled with olive oil completed the wonderfully aromatic starter.

For dessert, we started off with some Lemon Sorbet ($4) to cleanse our palates. Sour and sweet and refreshing, this was a great way to clear our systems of the hearty savouries.

The Tiramisu ($11), tucked into a coffee cup, was an aromatic heady confection of fluffy Savoiyard biscuits and marscapone and coffee accents.

Although I'm not really a fan of Creme Brulee ($9), this was a commendable rendition of the classic Italian dessert. A well-caramelized burnt sugar topping broke away to reveal creamy smooth custard underneath.

The Frangipane ($12) was a dense almond sponge cake, served warm and topped with icy vanilla ice-cream and raspberry drizzles.

Peperoni Pizzeria
7 Binjai Park
Tel: 6463 7800
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 12midnight, Sundays from 11am to 12midnight
Website: www.lesamis.com.sg


Princess Terrace Cafe, Copthorne King's Hotel

Copthorne King's Hotel may look like an unassuming, and somewhat run-down hotel in the midst of the 5-star accommodations that throng around our little island, but this is one hotel that really shines through its food. It's Chinese restaurant, Tien Court, serves exquisite delicacies, while its coffee house serves up one of the best Penang food around. It could be Singaporeans' never-ending love for buffets, as we were here on a Tuesday night and the entire buffet restaurant was full. But, I've long heard people rave about the Penang buffet here. While the selection may not be as varied as The Line at Shangri-La, or as luxurious as Greenhouse at the Ritz, the food here is authentic, hearty and comforting.

That said, we weren't really in the mood for a buffet (we're both trying to stay trim for our wedding...hah!) though we were in the mood for some Penang cuisine, in ala carte portions.

The Penang Chicken Curry ($16.80), a rich creamy and headily spicy nonya-style chicken curry is paired wonderfully with fragrant steamed rice.

The Penang Char Kway Teow ($15) is an aromatic smoky wok-fried flat rice noodles with crunchy bean sprouts, Chinese sausage, prawns and eggs in savoury black soya sauce. We slurped this up happily.

The Chicken Satay ($12) tender chicken skewers marinated with an oriental flair is served with a spicy peanut dip. I liked this, even if it didn't have a discernible sliver of pure fat, it was still moist, flavourful and tender. The Fiance, who prefers his satay dripping with fat, thought this was a little dry for his liking.

Princess Terrace Cafe
1st floor, Copthorne King's Hotel
403 Havelock Road
Tel: 6318 3168
Open daily 6am to 1am


Chili's Grill & Bar, Tanglin Mall

We were craving some ribs, so we headed to Chili's for dinner. It's been a while since we've been here, and while there aren't anymore queues at this American grill spot, it was almost a full capacity on a Friday night. We wanted to see how it was keeping up, a year after it reopened on our shores, and was very pleased to find that they'd remained consistent in both their service and food. This is why they are still doing a roaring business every night and have opened a second outlet at Resorts World.

Because their portions are so frikkin huge, we had 2 mains (and had to doggie bag a part of it) without any dessert or starters. The Grilled Baby Back Ribs, half rack with the triple-basted classic Chili's Original BBQ and the other half rack with a tangy and sweet Honey-Chipotle ($39 for a mix and match 2 half racks flavours). The ribs were meaty, tender and had a very nice caramelization over the mesquite smokiness. We got the Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob as the 2 sides, which were delicious. I particularly love the corn, all buttery and juicy and sweet. I swear they've done something wonderful and brilliant with it. It's that good!

The Monterey Chicken ($24), an entire grilled chicken breast with BBQ sauce, laden with applewood smoked bacon, cheese and tomatoes is one of the moistest chicken breast I've had the pleasure of savouring. It's a thick slab but because it's so moist, you don't feel like it's chicken breast at all. This was served with steamed broccoli and carrots, and black pepper mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes are also a hit here. This is authentic, freshly mashed potatoes, skin and lumps and all, no instant mix crap here. Slather a creamy peppery gravy over it and it's good on its own.

Chili's Grill & Bar
#02-23 Tanglin Mall
163 Tanglin Road
Tel: 6733 3317
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 10pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 11pm
Website: http://chilis.sg/


Noble House, Tung Lok Group

Beeps and I brought CC out for lunch at Noble House for his birthday. The last time any of us were here was for Beeps' birthday 2 years ago! Time really flies, Beeps' is now a mother of an adorable little boy, and I'm getting married. And well, CC's still CC, he's totally the same guy! He's evergreen, like the classics. 

We've never been the buy-a-birthday-cake-and-surprise-each-other-in-the-office type of people. And for as long as I've worked with CC and Beeps, we've always just bought each other meals for our birthdays. It's a lot more cosy, and we always have a hoot chatting over a long meal (as if we don't already talk A LOT to each other in the office...hah).

Noble House is located at UIC Building, which is super convenient for us because it's just opposite our office building. According to CC, UIC Building is going to be torn down by the end of the year. I wonder what's gonna happen to this venerable restaurant. Hmm.

We started off with the Steamed Glutinous Rice ($4.20 for 2 pieces), moist pearly grains of sticky rice stuffed with a mixture of dried shrimps, diced chicken and seasoning. This wasn't the best I've tried, but good enough.

I didn't try the Rice Flour Rolls ($5.50) "cheong fun" because it was laced liberally with parsley, alongside cubes of barbecued pork. Apparently, according to Beeps, this was pretty nice. Flour skins were thin enough.

We like the Barbecued Pork Buns ($3.80) "Char Siew Bao" here. Fluffy buns stuffed with sweet and sticky barbecued pork.

We also liked the Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Rolls with Prawns ($4.80), prawns were sweet, juicy and crunchy while the beancurd skin was tasty and crisp. A sliver of mango lends a fruity contrast to the prawns.

Somehow, the Braised Fish Maw ($14) in supreme broth here isn't as good as the one at Tung Lok Signatures at The Central at Clarke Quay. It was just lacking in that umami depth and the fish maw wasn't as tasty.

We eat lots of greens whenever we go out with CC, and this was one of 2 vegetable-centred dishes. The Poached Seasonal Vegetables ($18) with bamboo fungus and crispy conpoy in superior stock was very light, very delicate, with a milky stock reminiscent of shark bone soups.

The Sauteed Star Garoupa Fillet ($38) with fungus and greens is also one of my favourite dishes whenever I visit any Tung Lok outlet. The dish is so lightly seasoned that the focus is all on the main ingredients, fresh plump flaky fish, crunchy black fungus and sweet snow peas.

Update 29 Feb 2012: The restaurant is now closed because UIC Building is slated for demolition.
Noble House
5 Shenton Way #06-13
UIC Building
Tel: 6227 0933
Open daily from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner


Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

Now that Beeps is back at work, I've got back my regular lunch buddy. She's the one person I can always count on as a regular lunch date. We had lunch at Lau Pa Sat, which isn't the best place to get local hawker food, but it'll do as a convenient (cos it's right next to my office building), and (relatively) cheap place to eat at in the CBD area.

The Fishball Noodles ($3) had springy egg noodles, done al dente, with bouncy fresh fishballs and fishcakes, and tasty minced pork for texture.

Stall 13, Blue Star Fishball Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle Stall

I've noticed that most yong tau foo stalls are usually very popular with the lunch crowd. It's probably due to the fact that it's a healthy, calorie-light meal option, and its popularity ensures a daily turnover of the food, so the ingredients are always fresh. Beeps had the Yong Tau Foo ($4.50), in a yellow bean accented clear broth, plentiful fresh ingredients and soupy rice noodles to make it a filling meal. 

The Curry Yong Tau Foo ($3.50) is the not-so-healthy option, but so yummy! (On a quick sidenote: why is that the unhealthy food options are always the most delicious?!?) A generous helping of fibre-rich greens (somewhat) help balance out the creamy and rich curry.

Jason Yong Tau Foo stall front

Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
18 Raffles Quay
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