TWG Tea, Singapore

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Category: European – Tea, Afternoon Tea, Desserts

I’ve long frequented TWG Tea, simply because its ambience takes me back to Europe- and for a few minutes, I can just extract myself from the hustle and bustle that is the cosmopolitan city of Singapore, and be seated once again on one of the woven chairs lining the exterior of the cafes in Paris, sipping a beautiful tea as fashionably dressed parisians stroll past. Ahh. Although I did feel rather cheated when I found out the brand wasn’t all that it appeared to be, I bought into the entire idea simply because I wanted to, and so, it seems, did lots of people around the world, given that I’ve seen this tea presented in Hotel Suites and Paiza receptions and considering the number of TWG Tea palors spotting the globe.

ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, #02-21, Singapore 238801 (Multiple Branches including at MBS)

My most frequented branch is the one on the second floor of ION Orchard, simply because of its convenience. There is another TWG on the ground floor of ION, which is actually larger and more spacious but far more open, which prevents me from immersing myself completely in my little bubble of Europe, with the operatic music soaring over my head as I enjoy my teas.

Damage: $$ – $$$

Majority of the teas range from around $14 – $24, with the top tier priced at around $30+ per pot. Cakes are about $9.50, which is expensive when compared to elsewhere, but they’re (in my opinion) well worth it. Up till recently I’d only stuck to ordering the tea because that’s what they’re known for, but the cakes (changes according to the daily selection) are truly lovely. Alternatively, there’s the TWG Afternoon Tea at $45. The food is, surprisingly, good as well.

To go: Yes, for a taste of Europe

TWG Tea has a mind-boggling array of teas, and an extremely extensive tea menu and intense book which you could request, containing information on every single tea that you might want to read up on regarding anything from its history to its characteristics. To truly experience the dilemma of choice, come to TWG Tea, although I’m definitely not complaining. I’ve trade at least two dozen teas and have never been disappointed – it’s only once or twice that I thought the tea was only “okay”.

From the day’s selection, we picked out two cakes. The first was a Caramel cake, and the second was a Chocolate Mousse Cake. The Caramel cake had a thick layer of coffee-flavoured cream sitting atop a vanilla sponge and a biscuit base, with caramel glazed over. The biscuit was too hard and we had a tough time dividing it, but the rest of the cake was a sweet tease on the tongue. The Chocolate mousse cake was thoroughly perfumed with chocolate and had a light-medium texture, and the ganache was bittersweet and rich- and totally made my day.TWG Tea Palor Singapore Global European Afternoon High Tea CakesTWG Tea Palor Singapore Global European Afternoon High Tea Cakes Chocolate

Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso, Singapore

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Category: Japanese – Casual – Yakitori

We were strolling along Boat Quay looking for a place to have dinner before a concert when Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso restaurant caught our eye. We were particularly intrigued by the number of Japanese clientele they had and figured that that said a thing or two about it’s authenticity, and decided to give it a try. Omotenashi Dining is quite the new kid on the block, having been around from only around September or October last year, but seems to already have picked up a good number of regulars.

No.64 Boat Quay Singapore 049852, Tel: 6533 5152, Opens 11.30am – 2.30pm and 5.30pm – 12am on Mon-Fri (Opens for dinner on Sat)

Nestled along the shophouses on the main stretch of Boat Quay by the Singapore River, Omotenashi Dining is situated right opposite the Parliament of Singapore, across the SIngapore River. Its decor theme is primarily black, with non-fuss wooden tables and white words printed on its canopy, with a yakitori grill is by the entrance on the left. There are several Japanese restaurants along Boat Quay, but among the yakitori places, Omotenashi had the largest Japanese clientele as far as I could tell.

Damage: $$

Omotenashi Dining is quite reasonably priced, with dishes priced at around $3-4 per stick (min. order of 2 per dish). It might seem little, but since most yakitori dishes comprise of meats, I find that we often underestimate how filling they can be. Beer is also popular at Omotenashi, especially among the Japanese businessmen – I saw a beer tower or two go by in the short while that I was there.

To Go: A good hangout place for meatloving friends

Omotenashi  was reasonably priced and the food was fine – some dishes being more standout than others. Indoor-seating (air-conditioned) is rather limited and it can get rather warm if you’re seated outside, so if you have more than one layer on I suggest to go somewhere else or begin stripping unless you want to be a waterfall. Service at Omotenashi was quick and the staff were attentive and eager to be of help, and the restaurant has an old Japanese feel. Overall, a possible place to hang out with friends after executing mission: escape from the office.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

A uniformed waitress came out to greet us at the front, nodded and politely invited us to come in in a slight Japanese accent. Several tables were already taken by the riverside and the indoors was full so we were seated by the entrance and presented with the menu which contained an array of yakitori, from skewered meats to tsukune (minced meat patty/ball), in different renditions – with mustard, with cheese, etc. I asked the waitress for a recommendation between the two versions of tsukune, and she pointed at one and said, “I would recommend this… and this”, and pointed at the other version. We looked at each other and tried not to laugh.

In the end we ended up ordering the Kinoko Salad, and several kinds of yakitori, a onigiri (rice ball), and an egg dish called Dashimaki. From there, the orders were sent to the grill, and soon after, began hitting our table in rapid succession.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Mushroom Salad

The Kinoko Salad ($9.80) which the waitress said was very good and “popular” had a generous portion of stir fried mushrooms, beyond which I found to be pretty ordinary. You can give this a miss if you’re fine with having a mostly carnivorous meal.

The Isobe-yaki (chicken fillet wrapped with seaweed; $5 for 2 sticks) and Negima (chicken thigh with leek; $6 for 2 sticks) (featured picture, from left to right) were ordinary as well. They were a good piping hot, but the chicken was way too dry, which was surprising for the Negima since chicken thigh is typically fattier and retains juice better.
Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Tsukune

The tsukune ($6 for 2 sticks) was great – the outside was charred perfectly, caramelising slightly the semi-sweet glaze, and the inside was piping hot and extremely juicy. They were very generous with the meat – I think this also contributed to its robust flavors and texture, making it more satisfying to have than the usual thinner tsukune patties, including the one I practically grew up on from MOS Burger.Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Signature Egg

The waitress explained that the Dashimaki ($6.80) was gently cooked in a dashi stock for some time and whisked or something to give it it’s fluffy texture. To be honest I couldn’t internalise her description of the entire process because I zoned out halfway, and told myself that bottom line was that this egg was going to be more awesome than it looked. It was light but ordinary and rather lacking in seasoning, I’d happily swap this out for another yakitori.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Yakitori Pork Asparagus LeekIt would do you good to have this – Butamaki Shimeji (Shimeji Mushrooms wrapped in Pork Belly; $6 for 2 sticks)This is one of my all-time barbecue favorites. Whenever I host or attend a barbecue, this is a dish that needs to be present to elevate the session to barbecue stardom. Ever a crowd pleaser, this yakitori was no different; mushroom juices galore, soaking up and adding to the natural saltiness of the bacon, with cheese atop. Omg, yes!

Paradise Inn, Singapore

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Category: Chinese Cuisine

This is the second restaurant I’m writing about that’s linked to the Paradise Group (the first being Paradise Dynasty), and I’m starting to feel like I should be paid for writing this (which I’m not, but hey Paradise, payment in kind (i.e. food) is just fine) 😛 Paradise Inn is another of my go-to restaurants, simply because it’s so unpretentious – just good Chinese food in a comfortable teahouse setting – and on some days, that’s really all you want.

Multiple locations including Suntec City, Thomson Plaza, 313@Somerset and Changi Airport T1

The Paradise Group Restaurants are everywhere and the standards are very high across its different chains. If you’re in any major mall, chances are there’s a Paradise Inn nearby.

Damage: $$

Paradise Inn is pretty pocket-friendly – I’ve been there dozens of times and I’d say on average it’s about $20+ per person. We typically order about a dish per head (i.e. 5 dishes for 5 people) or slightly more, and it’s always been about right.

To Go: Definitely

When my family wants Chinese food, this is a default option. It’s fuss-free, comfortable but not sloppy, and service has always been pretty good (except when they’re running at full-house – but even then they’re still relatively quick to respond). From our experience, the wait staff are always very courteous and willing to help, and with Chinese tea that’s always flowing, we always come away with full and satisfied stomachs with none of that greasy-oily feeling like from some other places.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since I’ve been to Paradise Inn so many times and have tried so many dishes on the menu, I can safely say most of the food is very good- but to help those who’ve not been or friends just visiting Singapore for travel, here are some dishes that I would strongly recommend.

#1 Imperial Pork Ribs

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Pork Ribs Pai Gu WangThis dish is a must-order, and we never leave Paradise Inn without it. Although it reads “Pork ribs”, it’s really just pork fillets- which makes it even easier to eat and value for money since there’s no need to pick tiny morsels of meat off the bone like the one at Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant. The sauce is a special savory sauce that has a slight sweetness to it, and encrusts the outside of the pork to give it a good caramelized and slightly crisp bite. I’ve tried the Coffee Pork Ribs too – it’s a bit similar in terms of the way it’s cooked, but is sometimes a bit overdone resulting in a slightly burnt flavour, so it really depends. If you ask me, I’d say go Imperial.

#2 Hot Plate Tofu with Preserved Cai Xin and Minced Pork

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Hot Plate Tofu Mapo Cai Xin Minced PorkI’d eat every last scrap of this. If you like tofu, minced pork, egg, and lots of sauce, this is going to be your baby. The tofu is smooth and soft, and comes surrounded by a moat of bubbling egg, topped with a delicious and intensely-flavored sauce containing generous portions of minced pork and mushrooms. The leftover sauce goes perfect with everything, and the this dish tastes especially great when piping hot.

#3 Stewed Pork Belly served with Lotus Bun (Kong Ba Pau) (Featured picture)

Known in the local dialect as “Kong Bak Pau“, this dish is not commonly served at most restaurants. It is also a dish that’s hard to get right – I’ve had some poorly done pork belly which is either too lean or too fatty or even too tough. Not only must the composition of the pork be right, the stewing process needs to be done correctly to infuse the pork with the rich dark soy sauce-based marinate. A good kong bak would have a fat layer that melts in the mouth easily alongside tender, lean, and juicy meat. Paradise Inn has a great one, and is a great place to get your kong bak pau fix without having to make a special effort.

Chihuly Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Singapore

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Category: European (Varies) – Desserts

Singaporean (girls, in particular) seem to have a fairly sweet tooth and are fond of good-looking food (maybe because that’s just good for Instagram). Whether it’s because of a high demand or a trickle-down influence from a colonial age, Singapore has a fair number of places hosting Afternoon Tea, and Chihuly Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton hotel has been one of the top favorites for a long time.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799

Chihuly Lounge is just in front of the Main Reception area, and right by the lobby and driveway. I came in from the Millenia Walk side, through the side entrance to the Ritz, and so had to walk most of its length to get to Chihuly. We practically “stumbled” inside without knowing because there was no front desk, and the lounge was completely open.

Damage: $$ – $$$

Chihuly changes its afternoon tea line-up seasonally. When I visited in February, they were featuring the Bernardaud Afternoon Tea at $48++ per person. Afternoon Tea in Singapore, or anywhere for that matter, tends to be a pretty pricey affair. While the value really varies depending on what you’re getting in the selection, I thought the Bernardaud Afternoon Tea was promising due to the chocolate-themed desserts which had first been introduced in December 2014 as part of their Winter Afternoon Tea.

To Go: Depending on the Seasonal menu, as an occasional treat

Chocolate is my weakness and my undying love for it means that I’m acutely critical of chocolate which have been ‘branded’ as upmarket, good-quality chocolate. I’m by no means a chocolate snob – KitKat and Ritter Sport are still totally up my alley, but when it comes to “artisan-type” chocolate, I expect to be able to taste the difference. The majority of the items (hot counters, sandwiches, etc.) were pretty average, so if anything was to turn my assessment of the Chihuly Afternoon Tea around, that would’ve had to be the parade of chocolate desserts being featured for the season. I don’t know if the other blogs I’d read were actually paid to write the reviews because they were lavishing much praise, but in my experience, they were about equal parts hits and misses. Service was inattentive, perhaps partly due to under-staffing – we spotted only about 3 staff attending to the entire lounge which was running at full-house.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

We lingered near the beginning of the lounge area for a bit, not quite knowing what to do with ourselves since there was no waiting area or desk, until some time had passed and finally managed to catch the eye of a staff who helped us get settled in. By day, Chihuly Lounge is a very open-concept lounge with sofa seating and a live band playing pop classics by the tall glass windows between the lounge and the main driveway. My companion told me that by night, however, the lounge would transform into a chill-out bar at which guests can enjoy cocktails and bar bites to live jazz.

After we were seated, we were left unattended for a good 10 minutes just sitting and waiting to be even offered the menu for selection. After the menu was presented, we waited another 15 minutes to try and get the hostess’s attention so we could inform her of our selection of teas.

The tea was a highlight of the session. I went with Vanilla flavoured Black Tea, while my companion went with the Wild Cherries flavoured Black Tea. Both teas were delightful, although the vanilla was the more perfumed, sweeter, and lush of the two, while the wild cherries one had fruity notes and a deep berry colour.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea

I’ll spend but a blink on the hot stations and the sandwich counter; since the offerings change all the time, it makes little sense for me to go into detail on each and every dish. The kurobuta pork in puff pastry was good, albeit too little pork in too much pastry. The scallop was fresh lacked depth, partly due to the cream beneath which was too strong and overpowering, masking the feature ingredient with a thick cheese-like lather. The tuna was sorely disappointing – it was overdone, dried-out and lacked flavor; a pity on the meaty tuna, really.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Finger Food

Sandwiches were nothing special. The bread was not particularly fragrant – some were better than others, but nothing like the ones at my favorite Provence bakery – and the ingredients were scrimped on, although they did taste fresh and were, on the whole, well-seasoned. Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea SandwichesI’d dedicated much of my stomach space to the chocolate, and so approached the display with much excitement. Sadly, they weren’t half as good as they looked – I’d stopped halfway on the first, the macaron was very ordinary (2/10 on the scale of memorability) and the star atop was very hard and tasteless, and the thin eclairs were completely dried out, coarse in texture and stingy on the cream filling.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateChihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateChihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateThe best of the collection were the two featured – chocolate discs were wedged into a smooth, rich and creamy chocolate dusted over in cocoa powder, whilst the other cut open to reveal a mix of hazelnut cream and chocolate sponge and reminded me of a giant ferrero roche.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea Chocolate

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse, Singapore

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Category: Western/Tuscan – Steakhouse

I’d heard many good things about Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse and had been meaning to go for some time. When we arranged to have dinner, I was having a steak craving and since my companion was indifferent to the various dining options I provided, we agreed that it would be a good time to give Bistecca a try.

25 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 238969, Tel: 6735 6739, Opens 12 – 2pm and 6 – 10pm

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse is among the row of shophouses next to the Temple on the main road. Most people visiting the area would park at UE Square, from which you could cut through UE or walk along Unity Road and then make a right down Mohamed Sultan Road. The restaurant will be opposite with a steep flight of steps leading to a dimly lit rustic setting with a retractable deep red outdoor shade above the entrance with the words “Bistecca”.

Damage: $$$-$$$$

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse is more of an occasions kind of place. The prices are steep, but the food is lovely and service is great. If you’re going to shell out for a steak at Bistecca (and if you didn’t go alone), I suggest the Fiorentina steak ($188) – it’s the best steak I’ve tasted in Singapore thus far, and I’ve been on the hunt for the best for a while now. I might just say it’s better than Cut by Wolfgang Puck, and for a comparable price point, is on par with Wooloomooloo Steakhouse (although a direct comparison can’t be drawn since they were different cuts) and trumps Bedrock Bar & Grill.

To go: Yes, whenever the occasion calls for steak

As long as you have a team of 2 or 3, take to Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse for the Fiorentina. Good service, fantastic steak – I’ve not had a meatier, juicier, more perfectly done steak elsewhere. The 2 of us could barely finish the Fiorentina and were majorly stuffed, so if your team is a group of eaters with moderately-sized appetites, you should do just nicely. Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse Singapore Fiorentina Best Steak Bedrock Wooloomooloo

The steak is a organic-fed wagyu-cross which is dry aged. It is then grilled over a wood-fire grill which intensifies the flavour with a slightly smoky touch. On medium, the steak was tender and still a deep pinkish red on the inside, perfectly seared on the outside without crusting, and the juices flowed out readily with each slice. Steak is challenging to photograph, and the dimly lighted interiors didn’t help my mission, so go- see (and taste) for yourself. The side dishes were good too, although quite pricey. For dessert, we had a Panna Cotta which was soft and creamy, but you could probably find similar desserts elsewhere.

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse Singapore Fiorentina Best Steak Bedrock Wooloomooloo dessert panna cotta

Manzoku, Singapore

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Category: Japanese – Smart Casual – Chirashi Sushi Bento, Grilled Items

Yoi Group’s Manzoku on Purvis Street is the new sister to Chikuwa Tei at Mohamed Sultan. While I’ve yet to go to Chikuwa Tei, I’ve heard many good things about it and figured Manzoku would be more of the same. Both restaurants have a pretty similar menu, so I’m not quite sure why they were given different identities, but Manzoku fared well enough to prime me for a visit to Chikuwa Tei.

18 Purvis Street, Singapore 188597, Tel: +65 6734 4436

In January when they first opened their doors, it was a difficult find – the restaurant’s signboard was a plain A4 paper plastered onto its doors reading “MANZOKU” – and many customers got lost en route. It’s almost just opposite from Jai Thai, and when I went in late February, I found that Manzoku had settled in quite well – it now has a beautiful sans serif black lettering above its set of tall wooden doors, and its signature Chinese character running vertically down the middle in a bold, auspicious red.

Damage: $$ – $$$

In spite of its wilfully unfinished interior, Manzoku is in no way a budget or casual eat. The Chirashi Don ($25), however, is of very good value and featured some typically costlier cuts of sashimi. The grilled items are distinctly pricier, and if anything is going to derail the budget, it’ll be these. Our add-on of Unagi was $24, bringing the total to around $43 per person.

To go: Yes, it’s worth trying

Many of us have an undying love for sashimi and chirashi don, and Manzoku is a good place to get your fix, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a more personal, intimate setting for special occasions. It’s great for a night out with friends and like Chikuwa Tei, it’s best to make a reservation ahead of time as Manzoku is often full.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

We arrived at 7pm in time for our booking and the place was 80% full, with the last few vacant seats under reservation. Stepping in, the ambience was a little unexpected after the polished impression created by the strong (and heavy) double front doors, slightly minimalistic in design. The floor and walls were plain, bare cement. Simple pendant lights dangled from the high ceiling, and the counter was on the right, towards the rear, creating some sort of a cafeteria-but-not-quite setting. By estimate, Manzoku has a seating capacity of about 50.

Having read about the chirashi sushi bento, we homed in on it in the menu, and added on a grilled Unagi as a side dish.

Manzuko Chikuwatei Singapore Japanese Restaurant Food Review Blog Chirashi Don Best SashimiThe Chirashi Sushi  bento featured Salmon, Maguro (tuna), Mekajiki (swordfish, my favorite), and Hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi slices atop Japanese sushi rice. The sashimi was sliced thick, and the swordfish was especially fresh and tasty. The salmon was sliced a bit thinly and the tuna was a bit stringy (perhaps specific to the cut I’d happened to receive), and I very much preferred the taste of the sashimi pieces I’d had on my Mix Bara Kaisen Don at Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya. The little appetiser of cold tofu with cucumber slices and the miso soup which were served with the Chirashi bento were tasty.

The unagi was deliciously prepared. Grilled to perfection with just a slight charring to bring out the smokey flavours and giving rise to a little caramelisation, the unagi was generously lathered in a thick (arguably too thick), sweet-savory teriyaki sauce. I thought the portion was decent for the price of $24, and is something well worth trying if you should visit Manzuko.

Manzuko Chikuwa tei Singapore Japanese Restaurant Food Review Blog Chirashi Best Sashimi Grilled Unagi

NamNam, Singapore

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Category: Vietnamese – Casual

NamNam is probably the first vietnamese restaurant to have made it to multi-branch status. Owned by the Les Amis Group which owns other restaurants such as Peperoni Pizzeria and the newer brother to NamNamConnam (or “Broken rice bowl”), NamNam is especially popular amongst the weekday lunch crowd – in part due to its accessible location, and in part due to its affordable set lunch.

252 North Bridge Road, #B1-46/47 Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103, 10 – 9.30PM daily (Multiple Branches)

Namnam is conveniently located at major shopping malls, and has spread its reach across Singapore with branches at Suntec City, Wheelock Place, Plaza Singapura, and even Resorts World Sentosa. Greens and browns feature strongly in the decor at Namnam, and it often jumps out because of its rustic vibe.

Damage: $ – $$

Lunch set meals are good value for money at $9.90 flat, and include a bowl of beef or chicken pho, a small plate of appetizer (which used to be the fresh southern rolls, but is now a salad), and a vietnamese coffee or lotus tea. At other times, the noodle dishes are about $10, with appetisers and sides going at about $5 – $6, which is still affordable especially when you’re eating about town.

To go: Possibly yes, but don’t expect consistency

I used to be a loyal fan of Namnam and went at least once a week for lunch when they first opened, but after a short while, as their business picked up, the standard dropped considerably. Service is eyebrow-raising at times, especially at the Raffles City branch, with service staff leading you to tables that are not yet vacated or swapping you about between different tables for no apparent reason at all, but I think that boils down to specific kanchiong (colloquial speak for someone who is over eager and tending to cause blunders as a result) staff rather than the entire team. I find Namnam to be either hit-or-miss, about 50-50 both ways, but I guess at the price point we couldn’t ask for too much.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

The atmosphere is pretty consistent across the NamNam branches – packed and cramped with tables just the width-of-the-spread-of-your-fingers apart, with hurrying staff carrying bowls of pho and others ushering customers from the queue to available seats, NamNam is a no frills, quick eats kind of place, with a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to service – but there’s no service charge so that’s fine.

NamNam Pho Singapore Food Review Blog Vietnamese Noodles SaladThe appetisers at NamNam have always been consistently good. The salad of crunchy pickled vegetables, slices of fish cake, fatty pork belly, tossed with crunchy peanuts and crispy shallots is full of intense, alert flavours. However, the pork tends to be very fatty, slivery and lacks taste, but the other parts of the salad is undoubtably good and perfect for prepping the palate for the rest of the meal.

NamNam Pho Singapore Food Review Blog Vietnamese Noodles

The Sliced Beef Pho has sometimes been a hit – springy noodles with a slight bite, with thin, tender slices of beef – and at other times, a miss – noodles going way too soft and soggy probably from sitting in the broth for too long, and chewy tough beef with lots of hard tendon going through. When it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad, it’s bad. The only thing that’s really been consistent is the broth which always has a good depth of flavour and is sufficiently flavoured with thai aromatic herbs and spices.

NamNam is okay to go with familiar friends, but not a good place to chat about much because even if you’re quick with your meal, you can never seem to be quick enough. Service can be appalling – once I’d been at my meal for barely 20 minutes when a family suddenly appeared beside our table. The couple and their two children looked befuddled, and we too were confused by their presence. They told the waitress who’d led them there that we weren’t done yet, and she promptly waved a hand at us and decided, “no they’re finished”. On another occasion, I was halfway through my soup when a waitress came, just took the saucer of chilli and dropped it right into my soup. I looked up at her in shock, and she said “you’re done right?”- too late, soupwrecked. My visits dropped from weekly to once every few months, and now, when prompted for pho, I’d suggest we go to So.Pho instead.