&sons, Singapore

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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

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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

Pince & Pints, Singapore

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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).

Hotto Motto (ほっともっと), Japan

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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.

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya, Singapore

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Category: Japanese

I have a feeling that one day I’m really going to regret having posted this. Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya has been around for a while but I don’t think many people have discovered it yet – which is why I have feelings of both fear and excitement (which, I know, sounds a little extreme for feelings towards a restaurant but legit nonetheless); fear for when it gets popular, I’m not going to be able to get a seat for a long time to come, and yet, excitement, at how much potential Sumiya has.

181 Orchard Road, #12-02 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896, opens daily 12-3pm and 6.30-10.30pm

Sumiya is located right at the top most floor of Orchard Central – the rooftop, to be exact. I’m not even sure many people are aware that there’s this top floor because the lifts only go up to level 11, where Tung Lok Seafood Restaurant is situated, and from there you’d have to turn left and walk all the way to the end. Go around the corner and you’ll find a set of escalators that are otherwise pretty obscure, and that will lead you right to Sumiya‘s doorstep.

Damage: $$-$$$

I think Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya possibly has one of the most ridiculous (in a good way) lunch sets in Singapore. The lunch sets are served daily (including weekends), and range from $15.80 for a Chicken Teriyaki Don to $58 for a King Kaisen Don which has a ridiculous amount of sashimi. The sets we had were about the $20 price range, and were of fantastic value, and just thinking about it is making me salivate. The grilled items, which are served based on a skewer count, are very popular and will spike your bill a little but are still competitively priced when compared with other charcoal grill places such as the ones at Cuppage Plaza.

To go: YES!!! (And soon…)

The food is incredible – sashimi slices were thick and fabulously fresh (just read on for the detailed review below), the tempura was also delicious, and everything was just- fantastic. Service was impeccable as well – they were friendly, attentive, and polite. Plus, there’s the great birds-eye view of Orchard and Somerset if you take a stroll on the balcony. Note to self: Go back ASAP.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya Singapore Food Review

Sumiya has the feel of a laidback slight old-world market-style charm with wooden tables on unfinished metal legs and high chairs, which were surprisingly comfortable. The charcoal grill was being worked to our right as we came in through the entrance, and the staff nodded politely in welcome.

The Fish of the day Charcoal Grill Set ($16.80) was made from mackerel, and was fresh, coming off in flakes. The outside was grilled to a golden brown with the lightest crisp, and was cleanly seasoned with sea salt which supported the natural flavours through.

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya Singapore Food Review Blog

Assorted Tempura at Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya Singapore Food Review Blog

The Assorted Tempura set ($17.80) was a generous serving of five prawns and vegetable tempura in the loveliest batter. It was served piping hot and held it’s crisp to the end of the meal, and was well complemented by the light but flavourful dipping sauce and a generous serving of freshly grated radish. They definitely didn’t stinge on the ingredients – the vegetable tempura was made from asparagus.

My dish was the Mix Bara Kaisen Don ($18.80) and when I saw it, I went wow, and the waitress couldn’t help but break into a smile at my enthusiasm for the dish. I mean, seriously, look at it-

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya Singapore Food Review Blog Mix Bara Kaisen Don

BAM! Heaps and heaps of thick juicy sashimi which were so fresh, with generous bits of avocado (!) and a mountain of ikura and roe. It tasted absolutely divine! Each set came with a salad, an appetiser, chawanmushi, japanese pickles, soup, and a green tea mochi (which I totally fell in love with). OMG is all I can say, my tastebuds were absolutely singing afterwards – to the top of my list!

Marutomi Shokudo, Monbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

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Category: Japanese

Marutomi Shokudo came highly recommended by the hotel’s front desk and was within walking distance from where we’d stayed. When we arrived at 1.30pm, there were at least five people already seated in the waiting area and two people waiting outside the door. Now, whenever my family gathers together and fondly recalls our trip to Hokkaido, Marutomi Shokudo would always be mentioned as one of the top 3 places we’d dined at.

5-6-1 Minato-Cho, Monbetsu City, Hokkaido, Japan, +81-158-24-1188

Located along the coast facing the Sea of OkhotskMarutomi is situated at the corner of a set of buildings and faces the fishing port where boats come in each morning with a dazzling array of seafood.

Marutomi Shokudo Monbetsu City Hokkaido Japan Food Review Travel Blog

Damage: $$

Mind- blown. Around $20 for a bowl of rice covered in a generous assortment of extremely fresh and thick sashimi slices ranging from salmon to scallops, it’s definitely a tough one to beat.

To go: Yes, definitely!

Monbetsu city is rather small with not a lot to see, but if you do pass by from Abashiri, Kitami or Sounkyo, Marutomi is more than worth your while. The seafood was incredibly, incredibly fresh, and the servings were very generous, although you might wish to note that they speak no English. We arrived with only 45 minutes to go before they closed for the afternoon and when they finally had sufficient seating, we had a bit of trouble explaining that we were willing to clear out within 20 minutes before they ushered us inside. Seating was comfortable (some along the bar counter, and about three 4-6 seater tables to the right) but limited, so it would be wise to go earlier where possible.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Grilled cuttlefish Marutomi Hokkaido Best Sashimi Travel Blog Food

We were first served a springy, tender cuttlefish for dipping in a light mayonnaise. The grilled items were good, but the sashimi really stole the entire show – imagine a smooth, thick slice of fish, bending to your bite before breaking into a fresh melting tenderness. The ikura (roe) were bright orange spheres, bursting in the mouth to unleash an intense explosion of flavour. I thought I knew fresh seafood until I dined at Marutomi. We cleared out within 20 minutes as promised, and yet, this rushed meal was easily at the top of the charts. Truly, this is just one of the things you have to taste to believe.

Hazeya Cafe (はぜや珈琲), Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan

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Category: Cafe – Coffee

We’d just wrapped up lunch at Kanigen in Abashiri, when I was presented with the new mission of finding the family a coffee fix. I scanned my list and found that I hadn’t made provisions for any cafe, and so decided to whip out my trusty Google maps, and crossing my fingers, did a “Search nearby: Coffee”. By luck, chance, or by Google’s sheer brilliance, of the few markers that came up, everything was in Japanese except “はぜや珈琲” which had “coffee” in mandarin, and so that’s where I navigated us to. Turns out, it was one of the best coffees any of us had ever had in our lives.

Komabakita 3-chome 9-7, Abashiri, Hokkaido 093-0033 / 北海道 網走市駒場北3丁目9-7

Although I’d been proven reliable in providing navigational guidance throughout the trip, everyone couldn’t help but doubt when my directions led us deep into a residential estate. After piloting through the grid of single-lane residential streets, we finally saw the little cream-coloured standalone cottage with a chocolate-coloured roof and a sign at the front with a coffee bean – it had to be it.

Damage: $

The coffee was worth way more than it’s price. An expresso was about the standard $3+; I can’t remember the prices for every item, but we definitely spent under $8 each and left as a troop of happy Energizer bunnies.

To go: YES!!! 

It was definitely a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, with artisan coffee brewed in-house and an amazing selection of beans, it’s probably a secret kept amongst the locals so thank you, Google! Thank you so much!


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

I was busy taking photos of the cafe from the outside and was the last one in. A little bell hung on the door of the cafe and chimed as I entered. Even before I actually set foot inside, the amazing aroma of freshly brewed beans hit me like the scent of a memorable perfume, and I stood there for a split second- surprised- trying to take it all in. The only other guests in the place at this time were a Japanese couple and their little boy, who looked just as surprised to see tourists in this place. My family was excitedly flipping through the menu, eagerly anticipating the satisfaction of a good fix of caffeine on a sleepy afternoon.

The place was small and could seat barely ten people, with little round tables lined up against the full-length windows on the left, outside of which lay a bed of pastel purple flowers bathing in the afternoon sun. The counter was to the right, and upon entering, customers would be greeted with shelves of various beans roasted in-house, as well as cookies and such, while a large 2-meter high silver-coloured grinder stood in the back.

Hazeya Coffee Best Artisan Coffee Hokkaido Japan Travel Blog Review

The baristas were perfectionists in the trade. While waiting, we observed them brewing, tasting, measuring and adjusting. They even threw out the first batch which smelled fantastic to me.

It was a pretty hot afternoon and so I decided to get an affogato which I happily conclude was the best decision ever. The ice-cream was creamy and luscious, but what really hit the spot for me was the espresso shot that was poured over it. It was so intense, so deep, so mellow, and had a perfect amount of acidity which gave a kick to the senses. Even as the ice-cream melted, the espresso kept its character, and I enjoyed it slowly- scoop by scoop, enjoying the view of the garden, while everyone who didn’t order an affogato secretly (or not so secretly) wished they did.

Top coffee Hazeya Cafe Hokkaido Japan Travel Blog Review