Archive for the ‘1.3 Casual Restaurants’ Category

Blu Kouzina–Greek food in Singapore

There are a precious few Greek restaurants in Singapore. The last I counted, there were only TWO. One is Blu Kouzina, of which is the focus of this article, the other being Myconos on the Bay at Quayside Isle, Sentosa.

I’ve always wondered why is it that we have such a proliferation of Italian restaurants in Singapore, and French restaurants as well, but not Greek? Can there be that many Italians in Singapore or is it a simple case of pizza and pastas being easily received by the general public, largely helped along by American TV programmes? The thing with Greek food is that it is probably very palatable to the Asian palate, as Greek food emphasises fresh ingredients cooked in a simple and light way. Because Greek food is not often smothered in thick sauces, freshness of ingredients is key.  Perhaps that’s the reason why so few Greek restaurants have managed to stay afloat in a country that has precious few farms providing fresh produce that is demanded of Greek cooking.

Anyway, it was my father’s big birthday, and I had spent the entire week thinking of somewhere unique enough to hold a birthday celebration for a person who does not eat meat! I went through a gazillion fine dining restaurants, but because menu choices are limited at such places, and I couldn’t run the risk of not having fish and prawn dishes for my father to choose from, it was decided that Blu Kouzina would be the birthday venue. It’s quite certain that none of us had tried Greek cuisine in Singapore before.

Blu Kouzina (4)

Menu is not cheap though. Appetisers are mostly above $15, meats are $20 and above and seafood $30 and above, in general. But the food here is REALLY GOOD.

Blu Kouzina - Spanakopita - Phylo pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese and herbs - $14 (3)

Spanakopita cut in halves

Spanakopita – Phylo pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese and herbs – $14

For some reason, I just knew I would love this dish when I saw it on the menu. Piping hot filo pastry filled with slightly creamy spinach. The filo was as crisp as can be and the buttery taste went really well with the fillings. SO GOOOOOD. If it wasn’t so expensive, we would really have liked to have a second serving of this.

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Diamond Kitchen at Laguna Park Condo

*Media Invite*

Now here’s a place that is really old school and out of the ordinary. Have you ever heard of restaurants located within condos? Marine Parade Road may sound familiar to you, especially if you live in the East, but unless you’ve travelled past sitting on the upper deck of a double decker bus, you probably might not know of the existence of a row of shops within the Laguna Park Condominium. A row of trees and hedges pretty much block the shops from view, and they are not allowed to advertise. 

I happen to know of its existence because this was the route I would take on my way to my secondary school eons ago, but even I, who have lived in the East all my life, have never ventured past the fences to check what was there. My hazy memory tells me there used to be some hairdressing salon there once upon a time.

Laguna Park Condominium

Anyway, Diamond Kitchen is one of the new kids on the block, having taken over the premises formerly occupied by some other restaurant. I am told that the owners, young entrepreneurs Josh Chow, 30 and Lambert Chen, 27 wanted to serve up Chinese seafood dishes in a restaurant setting, at cze char prices, hence the off the radar location. I think it’s a really smart move because they do have some what of a captive audience with the people living at Laguna Park, as well as all the other condos nearby but no other restaurants within walking distance.

Diamond Kitchen - Josh Chou, one of the owners of Diamond Kitchen

This is Josh Chou, one of the owners of Diamond Kitchen, who looks younger than his 30 years…. The family is in the gem business, hence the name Diamond Kitchen. In case you were wondering. I have to agree, the name is rather befitting, as it really is a shiny gem of the East. In a way, I’m glad Diamond Kitchen is located in this quiet community, because that’s exactly the type of place i want to go for quiet family dinners. My mother accompanied me for this tasting and we both agreed that would have to bring my father here to check it out.

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Miam Miam

*Media Tasting*

Miam Miam, a French-Japanese fine casual café kitchen, is a labour of love by globetrotting friends with a passion for food. Marrying French techniques with Japanese inspired flavours and ideologies, the team at Miam Miam is engineered to deliver a consistently excellent experience. The kitchen at Miam Miam subscribes to the Japanese ideologies of kaizen and kanban in its food and preparation practices. Kaizen refers to the practice of continuous improvement and kanban of a scheduling system that ensures lean and just-in-time production.

Miam Miam - Perfectly engineered

They’re not lying when they tell you that everything is “engineered to perfection”.  For example, each portion of raw pasta measures exactly 110g. The pasta is cooked for exactly 7.5 minutes to achieve the perfect bite, aka pasta that is al dente. And in order to achieve the freshness that they so desire, everything is made to order. So…. be prepared to wait a little longer than what you would be used to for other restaurants!

Miam Miam - Hot Matcha Latte $6 (2)

 Hot Matcha Latte $6

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Oriole Cafe & Bar revisited

When it comes to thinking of great places to go for dinner, Orchard Road hardly comes up tops in my mind. Of course there are some good restaurants around this area, (my favourite being Lawrie’s Prime Rib Restaurant) but you have to wade through a sea of generic restaurant chains to get to the gems. I’d rather go to the Club Street area or Robertson Quay for a restaurant with more “character”.

But of course, it’s a totally different story if you’ve just traipsed through the whole of Orchard Road for the last 5 hours. Then the last thing you want is to have to travel somewhere else for dinner! That’s when I go for my fool proof option, Oriole Cafe & Bar. Technically speaking, it’s address is listed as being located at the Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, but it is right next to 313 Somerset shopping mall, and more importantly, Oriole Cafe & Bar is located a few paces from the Somerset MRT underpass, which will mean less walking and a quicker rendezvous with the bed who misses you.

For a location such as this, the menu is surprisingly affordable, especially if you were to compare this with places like say P.S Cafe or Wild Honey nearby? This is what we had for dinner a couple of Mondays ago.

Oriole Cafe Bar - Fish and Chips (Battered snapper fillets, hand-cut chips, tartare sauce or malt vinegar) $19 (2)

Fish and Chips (Battered snapper fillets, hand-cut chips, tartare sauce or malt vinegar) $19

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Lower East Side Taqueria

Lower East Side Taqueria (4)

Who you looking at?

It has been a while since we last visited the Katong area so we decided to walk around to find somewhere interesting to dine for lunch. Quite a number of interesting eateries have sprouted up in the Katong area, so if you’re game for something new, you can just walk along East Coast Road and pick something you like. Many of the new restaurants have funky decor or funky names like Rabbit Carrot Gun!

Lower East Side Taqueria (3)

When we went past Lower East Side Taqueria, we just could not resist dining here. Lower East Side is opened by the same people from Spathe. If you recall, this place used to be occupied by the restaurant Kashmir. Love the bright bold colours which instantly makes you feel happy. And there’s definitely no lack of chairs I can tell, they can just pluck some from the ceiling if they’re running low. It’s a non-air-conditioned restaurant btw.

Lower East Side Taqueria - Elote aka Grilled Sweet Corn, Paprika, Garlic Butter $6 (6)

Elote – Grilled Sweet Corn, Paprika, Garlic Butter $6

Lower East Side Taqueria specialises in Mexican cuisine, so you can find Tacos, Burritos and Quesadillas here. I really couldn’t resist ordering this corn on the cob. I always prefer to order corn nibblets so that I can shovel the good stuff into my mouth without having to slowly nibble my way through. But still, the taste was worth the effort because the corn had this amazing buttery and grilled flavour it was just mouth watering!

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