&sons, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Spanish – Tapas (and drinks)

I know- trust me, I know how the picture looks. You’re thinking, WTF is that? 

&sons is one of those places with a name that doesn’t bring anything to mind by association, and yet they serve up some really delightful tapas, just as long as you know what to order.

20 Cross Street, Singapore 048422, Tel: 6221 3937, Opens till late daily

Located along the Nankin row at China Square, &sons occupies a corner unit with tall tables and high stools lined along its front. You’d have to squint a little in the dim, relaxed light, past the people having drinks outside, to make out its name quietly stuck onto the glass door to know you’re indeed at the right place.

Damage: $$

Generally, the tapas act in Singapore doesn’t come cheap, but &sons, surprisingly, offers good value. The dishes average around $10 to $20 for a tapas-sized (i.e. small) portion, but there’s no need at all to worry about getting full especially if you’re having the heavier dishes like the pasta.

To go: Sometimes, for a quick fix of special artisanal pasta and Iberico pork

I’d had the Calamari, Kurobuta Pork Neck and Roast Cod Salsa Rubra during my previous visit, and was not at all impressed. This time, however, I went with a frequent &sons patron who has tried practically all the dishes on the menu, and can say with confidence that their strongest dishes are the Tagliolini with Crab and Nduja, Paccheri with Iberico Pork and Truffle, and the Iberico Pork Belly with Tuscan Bean Cream.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since the rest was nothing much to write about, I’m going to dive straight into specific dishes – so let’s get going!

Tagliolini Crab Nduja Pasta &Sons Artisanal Singapore Restaurant Spanish Tapas Bar Food Review

The arrival of the Tagliolini with crab and Nduja– What a sight. The pasta ($10) was enveloped in a tasty tomato-based luscious cream, with the flavours and pieces of crab meat humming it’s way through a snowfall of cheese. The mozzarella powder was so light that it was practically lighter than the texture of icing sugar. This was very tasty, albeit slightly overdone past al dente. Still, we loved it so much we got two portions of it.

We also had the Baccalá Cakes with Sea Urchin Sabayon ($15, featured picture). Personally, I didn’t like this as much as my dining companion did. Sabayon is often served as a dessert, but has a custard-like texture and in this instance, was infused with uni (sea urchin) as an accompaniment to the baccalá cakes (crab cakes). The sabayon was pick-up-the-dish-and-lick-it-all-up worthy and the light touch of the torch brought out the umami, but the crab cakes themselves lacked depth of flavour and elegance in texture, and the exterior “shell” was too hard for my liking.

Smoked Kurobuta Pork Lonza &Sons Spanish Tapas bar Restaurant Singapore Food Review

The Smoked Kurobuta Pork Lonza ($11) was moist and fork-tender, as if it had been going at the heat for at least a few hours, and had a robust flavour. The mash was finely pureed but plain and light in flavour, and provided a good balance to the kurobuta. For the meats, &sons does fantastic iberico pork as well, and so you won’t typically go wrong with one of its iberico pork dishes. Overall, a good place for pasta and meat-lovers like me.

Furano Delice (菓子工房フラノデリス), Furano, Hokkaido, Japan

SCRIBBLES

Category: Japanese – Desserts – Special milk pudding

I was really excited about Furano Delice (菓子工房フラノデリス) after all my research and what my cousin had told me, and you can totally tell from my voice and the ooh-ing in the video below.

Shimo-Goryou 2156-1, Furano-shi, Tel: 0167-22-8005, Opens 10AM – 6PM (June – September)

Seated atop a hill in the outskirts of Furano city, Furano Delice is not difficult to find and can be easily spotted when you’re in the vicinity. I’m not sure if you can get here via public transport and if there is it is probably rather infrequent, but if you do plan to drive like we did, the telephone number provided is accurate for the GPS and there’s an abundance of parking at the open-air public carpark just opposite its entrance.

Damage: $ – $$

I guess that depends on how many cakes you order, but on the whole it was inexpensive. They’re most famous for the  Furano Milk Pudding which was 300JPY (~$3.50), and the cakes are just a little more than that. They have coffee as well, and the espresso we had was really intense, so all you caffeine-lovers should be pretty happy at Furano Delice too!

To go: When in Furano for sure!

Just to try the milk pudding! Creamy and luscious, like a softer cousin of panna cotta. In my opinion, cheesecake cravings can be better fulfilled at LeTAO in Otaru, but their double fromage cheesecake is pretty good too.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

The Furano Milk Pudding was decadent – made from locally produced Furano milk, cooked, and then set in a miniature Furano milk bottle, it is super cute AND delicious. The syrup at the bottom is not caramel, like I’d thought when shooting the video, but more of a thicker, darker, maple sort of flavour which went on smoothly atop the flavours of the pudding. You can keep the glass bottle as a souvenir as well! The cheesecake was good, LeTAO’s is still better, but the strawberry cake was nothing special.

If it’s cold out enough, you can sit on the terrace outside under the tent with gorgeous views over the countryside, but when we were there we sat indoors to get away from the scorching heat.

Furano Delice Desserts Cakes Milk Pudding Hokkaido Japan Travel Blog Food Review

Travel Diary: Kamui Kotan (神居古潭), Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan (Gallery)

Kamuikotan (神居古潭) literally means God-village in the native Ainu language and is situated by the Ishikari River, about a half-hour drive out from the city of Asahikawa. We made a stop at Kamuikotan with a slight detour to the west en route to Furano, via Takikawa. It’s a short stop which you can cover in about 15 to 20 minutes.

The lush foliage changes with the seasons – with cherry blossoms in early May, to auburn in the fall. Being central to Ainu folklore, the first thing you’d notice is the mystic calm about this place – the quietness is touched by the sound of the rushing the river below, quick and yet surprisingly serene. Crossing the bridge to the other side of the river, you’d ascend short flights of steps to find the old kamuikotan station as well as a locomotive reminiscent of a time past.
Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism

Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism Sights Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism Sights

Pince & Pints, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Mixed – Lobster

We headed to Pince & Pints for Dinner on the recommendation of a friend who’d been there at least three times since it’s opening, and she joined us yet again for our initiation. Singapore doesn’t have many lobster-roll-serving places, the other being Platypus Kitchen which I’d tried and thought to be subpar, so it made sense that as one of the few, people are bound to hear of it.

32/33 Duxton Road, Singapore 089497

Situated along a row of shophouses, Pince & Pints occupies two adjacent units near the most popular open-air carpark in the area, which is flanked on the other side by Sabio Tapas Bar & Restaurant and Buyan Russian Restaurant.

Damage: $$$

I didn’t think it was worth the money. Their menu consists of three kinds of lobster dishes (whole lobster either steamed or grilled, lobster roll, chilli lobster) all going at $48++, and often, a seasonal special. When we went, they had an XO lobster with rice for Chinese New Year. While lobsters are expensive, I just didn’t feel very satisfied on the small portion of lobster meat and ordinary fries on the side.

To go: Not really – I think I’ll head to a seafood restaurant for a lobster fix

The food was pretty average in my opinion, and with a waiting time of about 45 minutes to an hour on most days, it just doesn’t make much sense to me. My friends who’ve tried the lobsters in Boston say it’s nothing but an echo of what they have over there, so I guess I’ll have to wait till I finally visit the States to get a truly legit lobster roll fix.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Admittedly, the Grilled lobster looked a lot more spectacular than the lobster rolls. The lobster meat was fresh, moist, and well-seasoned but the lobster was rather small and so wasn’t very fleshy. The butter sauce was a bit too loose and oily-tasting for my liking and lacked the depth of flavour which I expected from something based on butter, which is often used in french cuisine to give sauces added dimension and creaminess. All the dishes were accompanied by a cup of ordinary thick fries plainly seasoned with salt. The salad went unnoticed – some of the leaves were wilted, and the sauce was a thin, bare basic.

Pince & Pints Singapore Food Review Blog Grilled Lobster

The lobster roll was almost tiny – which I guess was to be expected since the lobsters didn’t have much meat to begin with. When we were served the rolls though, I could see the disappointment in the faces of my dining companions; one of whom promptly announced damn, I should’ve totally gone for the whole lobster instead. 

I’ve found that most of us receive lobster rolls expecting them to be served hot. On the contrary, at both Pince & Pints as well as Platypus Kitchen, they’re served out-of-the-fridge cold. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s done elsewhere, but that’s how it seems to be done here possibly because a steaming mayonnaise just wouldn’t make sense, and just a heads-up that this should be avoided if you’re in the mood for a hot dish instead.

Pince & Pints Lobster Roll Food Review Singapore Food BlogI guess it’s worth trying once, but I don’t think I’d return again. With the added service and GST, it comes up to about $57 for a bistro-kind of meal, and I think I’d prefer to be spending it elsewhere – like maybe at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant digging into a wok of chilli crab and going at the sauce with a little man tou (fried bun).

Prose by Photography: A Stir in the Shrine

I stood on the gravel, staring at the textured bark of one of the tall, lean trees in the middle of the Hokkaido Jingu Shrine – like wrinkles of the wise, and as if possessing a knowledge that the rest of us were still lost in seeking to discover. Just a moment before that, I’d been standing on the steps of the main building, quietly and respectfully watching from the side as the locals went up to what looked like wooden kneelers and knelt, looking straight ahead at the altar through the glass, bowing piously.

Suddenly- there was movement to the right side of the shrine. A door opened, and a man dressed in pine-green-coloured robes wearing a black headpiece tied with a skinny white rope around his face and under his chin stepped out, holding a small bell. Ring, ring, ring.

Two ladies stepped out with him, hair neatly and tightly pulled back into a ponytail around which a cream-coloured cloth was wrapped and bound with red ribbon, both clad in long white blouses with slits and big boxy sleeves, under which they wore full-length bright red skirts. Ring, ring, ring.

They promptly bowed low to each other, and one of the ladies spun on her heel and departed briskly, as if on a mission, her feet shuffling quickly in matching red geta slippers and I watched as she navigated the peripheral pathways of the shrine, rounded a bend and vanished, her red skirt previously trailing with movement, going with her.

June 2014, Hokkaidō Shrine (Hokkaido-Jingu Shrine), Maruyama Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Rule of Thirds.”

Hotto Motto (ほっともっと), Japan

SCRIBBLES

So I never thought fast food could be this good. I had my first taste of Hotto Motto’s donburi in Asahikawa, on one of the evenings when we were strolling along the main shopping stretch and wanted something to eat. I’ve never had Japanese fast food elsewhere that’s come anywhere close to this in terms of variety and taste. Along with Hotto MottoYoshinoya in Japan is fantastic as well – so much so that Yoshinoya in Singapore can’t even lift a pinky to it.

Everywhere in Japan

It’s easy to spot Hotto Motto‘s red signage in English, and it’s typically found along the main shopping street.

Damage: $

Each donburi (rice topped with ingredients) costs on average around $6 with a bowl of soup, and can go even cheaper depending on what you order.

To go: For a quick and easy, satisfying budget meal

I have no complaints. The wide ranging menu featuring everything from different portion sizes to add-on set meals to sides to variations on each dish, and we stood for a good while in front of the automated order machine because we were a little overwhelmed. The buttons were all in Japanese, but there are images to help you figure out what exactly you’re adding to your order.

Hotto Motto‘s ambience is your typical fast food joint with counter seating and tables to the side and, of course, service is snappy – perfect for the traveller on the go. In short, my order of beef cooked with onion slices, topped with leek and an onsen egg was nothing short of satisfying.

Travel Diary: Takinoue Pink Moss Park, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan (Gallery)

We followed the signs featuring a little cartoon character holding pink moss up a hill. As we curved around the last bend and approached the carpark, the Takinoue Pink Moss Park revealed itself to us – an entire undulating sea of pink, spotted with the contrasting green of the trees – a sight to behold.

On closer inspection, the pink “moss” was not any sort of moss at all, but rather tiny flowers, layer upon layer of it in such density which lent the landscape a bold colour, coming in full force as if knowing that each of them couldn’t have evoked the same response on their own.

Takinoue Pink Moss Park Hokkaido Japan Travel Blog Top Sights Takinoue Pink Moss Park Hokkaido Japan Travel Blog Takinoue Pink Moss Park Hokkaido Asahikawa Japan Travel Blog Sights