Avenue Joffre at Sentosa (Restaurant)

If you’re looking for a restaurant to try out good and authentic Shanghainese/Sze Chuan/ Cantonese food, you might just want to check out Avenue Joffre at Sentosa this month. Avenue Joffre will be hosting legendary Culinary Master Chef Zhou Yuan-Chang where he will present his award-winning signature dishes for a limited time only until 31 May 2016!

Chef Zhou is regarded as one of the most famous chefs in China. He has won awards including the China Golden Chef award, and the “Middle Age Cooking Elite” award of the first “Champion Cup” in Shanghai. His dishes have been praised by movers and shakers such as China National People’s Congress Wu Bang Guo and former USA Vice-President Walter Mondale. Chef Zhou deploys authentic but rarely practiced Shanghainese cooking methods to create natural flavours and textures in the dishes that he serves. Just in case you find the name “Avenue Joffre” familiar, this is the former name of Huai Hai Road in Shanghai during the 1930s.

We had the pleasure of sampling a number of Chef Zhou’s dishes. While the dishes may look like what you would find in many Chinese restaurants, we soon found out that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here are the dishes I enjoyed the most.

Avenue Joffre - Deep-fried chicken wing stuffed with birds' nest $15

Deep-fried chicken wing stuffed with birds’ nest $15

This might just be my first time eating stuffed chicken wing, much less one stuffed with birds’ nest, although apparently this is a classic Cantonese dish. Love how the crispy skin complements the delicate bird’s nest stuffing!

Avenue Joffre - Simmered Mud Crab with Asparagus Lettuce in clay pot

Simmered Mud Crab with Asparagus Lettuce in clay pot (market price)

Absolutely loved the taste of this soup that I had at least 3 servings. Those green strands are not noodles but asparagus lettuce shredded into thin strands to act as noodles. A lot of knife skills going on here. They were the perfect vehicle to soak up the aromatic mud crab broth. A must order!

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South Union Park (Cafe)

Hundreds of cafes have opened in Singapore in the last 2 to 3 years, however not that many actually have opened in the East. And by that I mean East of the East, ie Eunos towards Airport area. So I was really glad to find out about South Union Park, which opened several weeks ago in the residential area of Kembangan. It took over the spot of French casual restaurant Vis-a-Vis which closed in January 2016 after 24 years in business.

I’m quite familiar with the Kembangan area as I live in the East also and I have several friends living in the Kembangan area. But strangely, I’ve never known of this cluster of shops. This area is about 10 minutes walk from the MRT station, and the walk is largely unsheltered unfortunately, or you could take the bus as the bus stop is just outside. Fortunately, if you make the trek in, you would be rewarded with good fare.

South Union Park - Short Rib Ragu Pasta $22 (2)

South Union Park is helmed by chefs who have had fine dining backgrounds. I was speaking to chef Terrence, who worked at Jaan amongst other fine-dining restaurants, and has more than 10 years experience as a chef despite his young looks. He shared that they wanted to be able to showcase food using fine-dining techniques but at affordable prices. So for much of the menu, you will find that the ingredients used have been lovingly prepared onsite. For example, all the pasta is made in-house. The fish is lightly cured in house as well. The short rib used in the short rib pasta is slow-cooked for more than 10 hours. With prices of the mains ranging from $17 – $22 (no gst, no service charge!), I’m already thinking of making a second trip back there. (It also makes you wonder how on earth some other cafes have the cheek to charge this amount while serving nondescript dishes)

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Tulip Mania 2016 with Baby!

The much anticipated Tulip Mania tulip extravaganza is back again at Gardens by the Bay! The blast of cool air upon entering the Flower Dome, the waft of fresh tulips and the kaleidoscope of colours, Tulip Mania is one event at the Gardens that I look forward to attending each year because it just makes me feel like I am on holiday overseas in a temperate climate. 

This year, Tulipmania pays homage to the origins of the tulip by showcasing them in a Turkish theme. Way before the tulip was brought to the Netherlands where it sparked “Tulipomania” during the Dutch Golden Age, the first wild tulips were believed to have grown in the mountainous regions of Central Asia and the ancient Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey). So captivating was it to the Sultan and people of the 16th-century Ottoman Empire that it became the inspiration for many songs, poetry and paintings.

Btw local senior citizens get 50% discount for purchase of tickets onsite!

Tulip Mania 2016 (24)

This year’s visit to Tulipmania was extra special because we brought a special someone along with us! Although Baby is only 2.5 months old, we think it’s important that Baby gets to experience as much as possible instead of being stuck at home with the 4 white walls. We were hoping that he would enjoy the colours of the various tulips, but he was in a grumpy mood. Oh well, at this age, he is indeed a little too young to appreciate what he is seeing. Still it was great fun for us the parents nonetheless! The pictures of his grumpy face below are priceless!

Tulip Mania 2016 (9)

Tulip Mania 2016 (20)

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Singapore Gourmet Bus–Sightsee and dine at the same time!

The other day I had a most interesting meal! Will you believe it that the meal was served in a bus? For the first time ever, dining in a bus in Singapore without breaking the law! The Duck & Hippo peeps have outdone themselves by coming up with Asia’s first Singapore Gourmet Bus where you can enjoy a luxurious sightseeing tour accompanied with food and drink!

Currently, you can opt for either a 2 hour 2 course lunch or 5 course dinner service (both fixed menu) at $57 or $97 per pax respectively. Lunch is a dim sum lunch supplied by the Soup Restaurant while dinner is an Indo-Chinese dinner supplied by IndoChine. Considering that it already cost $23 for the most basic sightseeing tour without food, it sounds like not too bad a deal. En route sights include the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, Merlion Park, National Gallery Singapore and Marina Bay Sands.

Singapore Gourmet Bus (2)

Lunch supplied by Soup Restaurant

Scroll down to read about the entire Singapore Gourmet Bus dining experience!

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The Plain Jane Cafe

The weather has been relentlessly hot these last few weeks so when the BFF invited me to check out The Plain Jane today, it was with extreme reluctance that I agreed. In fact, he had to entice me with a free taxi ride to Serangoon before I agreed (he lives near me you see).

The Plain Jane (2)

I was not particularly keen to visit either because it seems like The Plain Jane sells mainly Swiss rolls and little else in terms of food. What if I wanted more to nibble on? Thankfully, my fears were quashed as the Swiss rolls we tried were very good! These are unique Swiss rolls quite unlike those you might find from places such as The Polar Cafe. The sponge is thinner while the cream filling makes up the bulk of the pastry. I was wondering if it would be too much cream to sponge but because the cream has a wonderful and unique flavour, the ratio some how worked out! I wouldn’t mind if there was more sponge though.

The Plain Jane - Swiss Rolls

I tried the Nutella Swiss Roll while the BFF tried the Earl Grey Swiss Roll. The Nutella flavour isn’t very strong I must say, but it was still good as a normal chocolate roll. We both agreed we preferred the Earl Grey Swiss roll as it had a pleasanter and more fragrant flavour.

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