We'd gushed to the lovely waitress at Meta how we loved their food, but bemoaned the lack of an ala carte menu...So she recommended their sister restaurant, Kimme, a bistro-styled restaurant headed up by yet another Korean-born chef.

Unlike Meta's exclusively degustation menus, Kimme's menu is primarily ala carte: which is split into the sweet and savoury - the latter served in small and big plates. The food here is similar to Meta: European techniques awash with Asian influences and grounded in Korean flavours.

We really wanted to like Kimme, mostly because we love Meta so damn much...But, while dinner was perfectly enjoyable, we thought that Kimme fell short of the extraordinary that is Meta. There wasn't a marked grouse nor could we pick a particular flaw, but it was missing that "je ne sais quoi", that magic-something that distinguishes between the competent and the transcendent.

The sumptuousness of the Wagyu Bulgogi Tataki ($26) was contrasted with the refreshing mint of the shiso and fresh daikon, while the sweet accent of the bulgogi marinade was picked up by the subtle spice of the roasted bell pepper and caramelised onions.

Plump and succulent, the grilled Hokkaido Scallops ($30) were complemented by grilled endive, leeks, and parsnip, but was overwhelmed by the robust flavour of the century eggs.

A riff on haemul pajeon, the Korean Seafood Pancake ($25) was outstanding. It was crisp and juicy and absolutely delicious. The pickled daikon, dusted with green tea powder, and the vinaigrette dip, loaded with spring onions, lent piquancy. A must-try.

The Barramundi ($36) was a hit-and-miss. The fish was perfectly seared, and the prawns scrumptious, but the bouillabaisse was cloyingly sweet, in spite of the fennel and crisp onions.

The fork-tender Korean-Style Pork Rib ($34) was served with broccolini, wild rice, and purple cabbage for a textural contrast.

The Guksu ($30), the Korean answer to Chinese la mian, was generous with spanner crab meat, laced with seaweed and topped with chives. This was heartwarmingly homestyled: the Hubs said it tastes exactly like how his Gram's used to make, yet it was polished and refined. 

47 Amoy Street
Tel: 6514 1588
Open weekdays from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm for dinner only;
Closed on Sundays
Website: kimmerestaurant.com


Song Kee Fishball Noodles, Tembeling Road

Sometime in the throes of my fishball noodle-frenzied spell, we made the trek out to Song Kee's new home in the East. We weren't quite sure, at first blush, if we'd gotten the right address; the coffee-shop was barely occupied, on a Sunday evening no less. We'd braced ourselves for its legendary snaking queue and budgeted a half hour-long wait for our dinner, so it was almost shocking to find the famous hawker this desolate.

But then we heard the familiar refrains of the music blaring out the stereo, a disparate compilation of 90's Mandopop and trashy techno covers of Billboard's Top 100, also from the 90's, and we knew, this was the correct Song Kee.

I'm not sure why Song Kee appears a derelict wasteland these days, because their food is as amazing as it was back when they were located at Upper Serangoon. Maybe it's the fengshui, or maybe their customers haven't realised they've moved to Tembeling Road. Or maybe it's because they don't get foot traffic at the quiet end of the usually-buzzy Joo Chiat enclave. Whatever it is, I'm just grateful that the crowds are no more and wanting to tuck into a bowl of fishball noodles no longer requires Buddha-like patience sweating in an open-aired coffeeshop.

The Fishball Soup Kway Teow ($6 for medium) nuanced and exquisite, was lent crunch by lashings of shredded lettuce. The flat rice noodles were smooth like fine silk, and the "meat" - fishballs, fish dumplings and beancurd puffs stuffed with fish paste, was excellent.

The Fishball Dry Mee Pok ($6 for medium) was perfectly al dente, with a toothsome bite, and burnished with a moreish sambal-soy concoction that was enlivened with buah keluak.

When we ordered the Fish Dumpling Soup ($12 for large) in a large portion, the service staff balked; she was doubtful we'd be able to finish it all on our own. We got it anyway, all the while assuring her we're terribly gluttonous, and finished it. The dumplings were absolutely scrumptious. And so we promptly ordered another large portion to take home for supper.

Song Kee Fish Ball Noodles
128 Tembeling Road
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11.30am to 9.30pm;
Closed on Wednesdays
Tel: 9336 2745

Finest Song Kee Fishball Noodles

Every once a while, I get a craving for a particular hawker food.

There was that one time, when I was crazy about chicken rice, and so I ate chicken rice for an entire month. And then there was that one time, where I went nuts over laksa, and had that for like three weeks. And there was that other time, when I was completely addicted to wanton mee, and so became a daily fixture at Eng's wantan noodles for two weeks straight. Bonkers, I know...I only stopped because I ended up with a bout of stomach flu.

So recently, I got erm, well...a little obsessed with fishball noodles. And we thought of hitting up Song Kee, which arguably serves up the best fishball noodles and fish dumplings in all of Singapore. But because we were too famished to drive all the way to its new locale in the East, we went to Finest Song Kee instead, a set-up by a relation of the original Song Kee, and which took over the old coffeeshop premises of the latter when it moved out to the East.

And while it's no contest to the magic that is Song Kee, it was a rather worthwhile band-aid as getting to Tembeling Road in Joo Chiat was quite a pain in the butt.

The Fishball Dry Mee Pok ($6.50 for medium) had that homestyled, old-school flavour; the noodles were springy, slicked in a punchy chilli mix. The fishballs were bouncy and tasty,  and I liked the generous addition of mince pork, which was fresh and light.

Some people see fishball noodle soup as "sick people food" but it's my "happy food", and the Fishball Soup Kway Teow ($6.50 for medium) was superb, I loved the silky smooth rice noodles and the delicate broth. One thing I didn't fancy though, was the coriander leaf-laced chilli fishballs and stuffed beancurd puffs.

The Fish Dumpling Soup ($8.50 for large), topped with lashings of fried lard nuggets, was excellent. The fish dumplings were a comparatively close match to the original Song Kee, plump and juicy.

Finest SongKee's Cuisine Fishball Noodles
532 Upper Serangoon Road
Tel: 8838 3532
Open Wednesdays to Mondays from 11am to 2am;
Tuesdays from 11am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 2am


Andong Jjimdak, Seoul

A week-long obsession with Hanwoo beef at just about every restaurant in Seoul meant that we were due for a change of protein. I wanted something-chicken and didn't want anything-fried...so we headed to Andong Jjimdak for braised chicken.

An insanely popular chain restaurant with multiple outlets all over Seoul, Andong Jjimdak is tremendously accessible as there's a branch in every district. Service is choppy but quick, detached but efficient. Like a fast-food restaurant, without the ensuing oil-laden guilt of fast food. So even if there's a queue, especially during peak dining hours, it moves real fast.

Because we're lazy AF, we opted for the Boneless Jjim Dak (30,000KRW), which is nearly twice the price of the bone-in version. This passed muster: the chicken was juicy, the sauce was robust, and there was a comforting rustic quality to it...but I would have liked a stronger spice to this. And tbh, a competent homecook would easily muck out a better rendition.

The crisp, clear notes of the dongchimi, a radish kimchi soup, was a refreshing counter to the rich heartiness of the jjimdak.

The kimchi looked bold and spicy, but it tasted anemic. This needed more kick. 

The restaurant front in Myeong-dong for reference.

Andong Jjimdak
2-22 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga
Tel: +82 2 310 9233


Red House at The Quayside

Red House Seafood is one of the oldest seafood restaurants in Singapore. And like its contemporaries Jumbo and Long Beach, what was once a no-frills, simple and casual seafood joint in the East Coast has now gone upmarket and expanded into a chain restaurant. And while it's not acquired the commercial prominence of the aforementioned Jumbo and Long Beach, Red House has done pretty well for itself, with 3 centrally located outlets, each with its own crowd of local fans and tourist arrivals. We were at the Robertson Quay branch for dinner on a Monday night, and the sprawling restaurant was actually packed.

The menu's extensive, a mix of the traditional and fusion fare with a modern slant. I say, you'll do well to order the latter, we had a spicy seafood melange and vegetable dish that were outstanding.

Absolutely a must-try, the Spicy Seafood Combination ($32 for small) was this glorious heap of perfectly cooked squid, fish and prawns slathered in a laksa-ish egg-drop sauce. That sauce was seriously ah-mazing; potent, bold and lively with the bright accents of kaffir lime threads.

A classic staple, the Deep Fried Marble Goby ($80 at $10/100gm) was excellent too, beautifully crispy skin, flaky meat, and that soy sauce gravy it was swimming in, ooh mamma mia, fantastico!!

Another must-try was the Braised Gluten Puff & Bamboo Pith ($15 for small) with spinach. This was surprisingly refined, a standard I'd have expected in a fine-dining Cantonese restaurant instead of a low-frills seafood joint.

The Wok-Fried Black Pepper Sri Lankan Crab ($114.40) was disappointingly mediocre. It wasn't crummy, but it sure was unremarkable. The sauce, while flush with garlic, lacked punch, and the crab meat was less than juicy and sweet. The waitress had originally recommended a Scottish brown crab cooked this way, maybe we should have heeded her suggestion.

The dinner finished off well though, the Red House Mee Goreng ($12 for small) was heady and robust, with a delightfully spicy kick countering the piquant sweetness of the tomatoes and seafood.

Red House at The Quayside
60 Robertson Quay
#01-14 The Quayside
Tel: 6735 7666
Open weekdays from 3pm to 10.30pm;
weekends from 11.30am to 10.30pm
Website: www.redhouseseafood.com


Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice

Don't you just hate it when some half-wit posts tantalising pictures of seemingly delicious food, but then, incomprehensibly, refuses to divulge the name of the restaurant? Inane claims of "but I dun wan other people to know lah, because den there will be a long queue leh" ring hollow AF.

Then wtf are you doing, posting online and bragging about eating the "best chicken rice in all of Singapore"?! Sheesh, good food is better shared with all, amiright people????? And it's not like foodie gems are some classified information requiring top-level security clearance. We're a teeny tiny city state populated by foodies aplenty whose pastimes are being preoccupied yakking about food; truly good food will never be kept hidden for long. But it's safe to assume these muppets wouldn't appreciate the concept of "sharing is caring". Urghh, that 'kiasu' yet pretentious routine always triggers me.

Anyway...as luck would have it, the identity of the aforementioned chicken rice stall was outed by an acquaintance who'd openly commented so. And as we were in the neighbourhood, we thought we'd drop in to see what the fuss was all about, and whether the chicken rice was worth the reticent secrecy.

And you know what, I didn't think it was "the best chicken rice in all of Singapore". In the East, maybe, but certainly not deserving of all that confidential hoopla. I suppose, that bonehead didn't just lack class, he lacked taste too.

To be clear, there were things I liked about Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice: the old-school flavours, the succulent meat, and the superb soups, all of which were more than decent. And the air-conditioning, afforded by its premises in the basement food court of the Katong Shopping Centre, was very much welcome.

We had a quarter each of the roasted and poached chicken, a platter of boiled greens, a couple of braised eggs, and rice, and it all came up to a wallet-friendly price of $35.

The Chicken at Delicious Boneless Chicken was slathered in a surprisingly delicate soy sauce, light on the sesame oil, and showered with fried garlic bits and shredded carrots. I preferred the poached chicken to its roasted one, it was notably silkier and more tender.

The rice wasn't the most flavourful (Thien Kee Steamboat trumps in this regard) but it passed muster.

The Soy-Braised Eggs, drenched in a dark soy-based sauce, were commendable.

We had 2 soups, both complimentary. There was the evergreen chicken soup, sweetened generously with cabbage and carrots. I loved this. It was absolutely exquisite.

And there was the rotating stable of herbal soups, and our soup-of-the-day was a scrumptious Lotus Root Pork Rib Soup with peanuts. Although this was free-of-charge, it wasn't some half-assed soup, there was a depth of flavour evident from many hours of stewing. So comforting, I would return just for the soups.

Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice
865 Mountbatten Road
Katong Shopping Centre basement
Tel: 9789 6073
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10.30am to 8pm; Closed on Mondays


L32 Handmade Noodles, Geylang

One of the best things about my little city state, is the abundance of amazing food that can be had for as little as $5. As much as I may seem to indulge (or really, as occasionally as my budget will allow) in fancy schmansy restaurants, I will always return to the local hawker fare. It's my comfort food, my "happy food" if you will; the familiarity of hawker cuisine, to me, is entwined with my roots, my Singaporean identity. Hawker food here is world-class, and something that I would miss most about Singapore if I'm ever away, because I could never replicate the same in my kitchen.

Geylang, for all of its vice as "an overcrowded slum with a thriving underworld" (and shitty parking), is a vibrant trove of food gems, sights and smells. It's where we regularly take-away our hokkien mee, duck rice, and seafood cze char. And now, to add on to that list, is ban mian. Or the local answer to Chinese la mian.

Ban mian is not a dish ubiquitous in many hawker centres, and it doesn't quite get as much "airtime" as popular foods like char kway teow or chicken rice. But I like it. To clarify, I'm not so much a fan of handmade noodles, but I love the frills: the egg-drop pork mince broth, the blanched choy sum, the fried shallots, the fried ikan bilis, the mince. I'd heard about this ban mian stall that attracted snaking half hour-long lines, which was surprising coz I've never heard of ban mian being a dish that was queue-worthy at all.

And indeed the queues are right, the ban mian here at L32 Handmade Noodles may be the best on our island. I mean, we promptly ordered another 2 portions to pack for home as soon as we licked up every last drop of that glorious soup. There's a variety of noodles, from chicken to sliced pork to meatballs to prawns, and even clams, but I found the classics better.

The Meatball Dry Ban Mian ($5) was slicked in a dark soy-based sauce, flecked with hints of sweetness, and topped with lashings of shallots and ikan bilis crisps, was excellent. The meatballs were soft and springy, the pork mince fresh and delicate, and the noodles, while thick, were delightfully chewy. There's also an egg-drop soup siding the noodles that was 'sedap'.

The Prawn Soup ($5) which we got sans noodles, was exquisite as well, but it would have been nice(r) if the prawns were deshelled. The prawns lent an umami sweetness to the pork-based broth.

L32 Handmade Noodles
558 Geylang Road (Lorong 32)
Tel: 9770 2829
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.30am to 9.30pm
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