Category Archives: foodie

Singapore Restaurant Week 2013 Tasting at B@Rochester with American Express

It is the 7th edition of the Singapore Restaurant Week, happening from 7 to 13 October, 2013. I was honored to be exclusively hosted by American Express, the presenting partner of this event, to do a food review of  B@Rochester’s specialty cuisine.

Over dinner at B@Rochester on a Monday evening, I met and spoke with Sheena Yu, Head – Public Affairs & Communications ASEAN, American Express International Inc.

We sampled a full course dinner from their special Singapore Restaurant Week menu:

Fusion sashimi salad for starter
Fusion sashimi salad for starter
Separate order of salmon, swordfish and tuna sashimi
Separate order of salmon, swordfish and tuna sashimi
Fish main
Fish main
Close-up of the fish
Close-up of the fish
Separate order of grilled salmon fish head for sharing
Separate order of grilled salmon fish head for sharing
Green tea ice cream with red bean paste and chocolate
Green tea ice cream with red bean paste and chocolate

Over dinner, we chatted casually over our respectively love for good food, with Sheena candidly sharing on her diverse culinary adventures, having lived and worked in three countries – Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

American Express have always branded themselves strongly for culinary privileges. I still remember working on some of their creative material on dining deals during my first job as a graphic designer at OgilvyOne Worldwide Singapore – this was some eight years ago!

Speaking to Sheena, I learnt of the other exciting dining initiatives American Express extends to its cardmembers. These include:

1. The Far Card which offers outstanding year-round dining privileges of up to 50% at all participating restaurants and special dining offers at selected restaurants.
2. Palate with more than 50 of the finest restaurants and bars island wide offering savings of up to 50%.
3. SELECTS® for a yearlong selection of dining privileges.

More details are available on the respective links.

Find out more on the various Amercian Express card offerings and their benefits via the official website. 

SCS Butter is now on Facebook

The number one local butter brand, SCS, recently launched its first ever social media platform – an official Facebook Page.

They sent me some nice little cupcakes in conjunction with the launch announcement:

Cupcakes from SCS Butter
Cupcakes from SCS Butter

I believe most of us have tasted a product or two from SCS before. Here is a picture of SCS product offerings to refresh memories:

I find it rather interesting to see such a traditional brand embrace social media. It is a sign of things to come for branding, advertising and promotions in the near future.

Why did SCS decided to do this? 

In their own words:

Over the years of changes, our loyal customers make spreading SCS butter a part of their lives. The recognition of uncompromised product quality over the years has ensured that SCS remains a favourite household brand that is trusted through generations. Now SCS would like to continue spreading the goodness of our products by reaching out to the public on its Facebook page.

Being a brand popularised by the older generations, SCS acknowledges that to stay relevant and to reach out to the more tech savvy and younger crowd, a SCS Dairy Facebook page is the natural progression to ensure the continuation of cooking and baking traditions.

“With the emergence of young entrepreneurial and aspiring chefs, we are excited to be on this platform to make sure SCS supports and continues to fuel such a passion for baking through relevant mediums” shares Nicholas Koh, Head of Marketing (Housebrand), Auric Pacific Marketing Pte Ltd.

What is the new SCS Dairy Facebook page all about?

The SCS Dairy Facebook page will be a one-stop centre that shares baking and cooking tips, easy-to-follow recipes, events information and updates, and inspirations from the online community. Expect exhilarating weekly contests and attractive prizes to be won.

SCS invites you to ‘Like’ the SCS Facebook page as it will be a one stop page for all your baking and cooking inspirations and communications.

Be prepared to cook up a storm with the SCS Facebook page!

Keep calm and carry on cooking on the SCS Dairy Facebook page.

About SCS
SCS Butter is one of the house brands under listed Auric Pacific Group Limited (APGL). It also owns popular brands such as Sunshine, Gourmet, and Buttercup. APGL also runs the Food Junction and Delifrance chains in Singapore.

Since 1905, SCS Butter has become a common fixture in kitchens around the island with its creamy, rich and buttery taste. All SCS products are produced and manufactured in Australia, and it is its dedication to delivering uncompromised premium quality that has made one of its products, SCS Butter, the No.1 trusted butter brand in Singapore.

To continue offering the goodness of premium quality diary products to consumers, SCS has gone on to successfully launch a range of other diary products such as SCS Spreadable Butter, SCS Cheese Slices, and SCS Cream Cheese.

Introducing Snax! by CP Foods – 5 pair of vouchers to give away

Snax! by CP Foods
Snax! by CP Foods

Snax! by CP is the latest food concept launched by CP Foods, one of Singapore’s most popular and leading food brands, that serves up hot, flavourful comfort food that you can consume on-the-go.

Shrimp skewer choices
Shrimp skewer choices
Chicken skewer options
Chicken skewer options

In collaboration with CP Foods, I will be giving our 5 pairs of Snax! by CP vouchers (each pair worth S$30++) – each voucher entitles a Snax! value meal, 3 seafood or chicken skewers, and 1 set of the new ‘Chicky Chix’.

One voucher can get you this amount of food:

Two chicken sticks on the left and three shrimp sticks on the right
Two chicken sticks on the left and three shrimp sticks on the right
A box of rice with two skewers
A box of rice with two skewers
That's really a lot of food!
That’s really a lot of food!

The vouchers are redeemable at either of the two Snax! by CP outlets – Takashimaya (Food Hall, B2), and JEM (B1-K03) – and are valid till 31 October 2013. Other terms and conditions apply.

If you are interested to win these vouchers, simply go Like my Facebook Fan Page and leave a comment on this post.

I will do a random draw and contact the winner via Facebook message by next Monday (14 Oct 2013).

[14 Oct 2013 Update] Congratulations to the following five winners:

I will be messaging the winners via facebook. A big thank you to everyone who joined this contest. Do continue to support Alvinology.com and Snax! by CP Foods. 🙂

Outpost 903 @ Bukit Timah Road

Located at 903 Bukit Timah Road, Outpost 903 is a restaurant bar inspired by gastrobars in the UK, featuring quality grub in a cozy bar within a residential neighbourhood.

Outpost 903 is not easily accessible by public transport, but if you are driving, it is easy to spot it along Bukit Timah Road because of the wall paintings:

Outpost 903 Gastrobar
Outpost 903 Gastrobar

Local TV host, Lin Youyi is one of the co-owner of the restaurant bar. Rachel and I met up with her during our hosted dinner:

Youyi, Rachel and I
Youyi, Rachel and I

Youyi is a very fun, approachable and hospitable person, much like the personification of the brand values for Outpost 903 itself. She candidly shared with us details behind the menu items, the choice of decors, even on her age-defying secrets.

Outpost 903 is around two years old now and has been featured widely in the local media.

True to its gastrobars aspiration, the menu features mostly simple comfort food – the kind of stuff you will want to binge on while watching a football match or catching up with a group of friends in the neighbourhood.

Indoor area of the restaurant bar
Indoor area of the restaurant bar

Youyi described the food at Outpost 903 as a good combination of old-fashion American and British bar menu classics with a Peranakan twist in some.

Here are some of the items we sampled:

Outpost Carbonara (S$16) - fettucine pan-fried in bacon oil and creamy white wine sauce topped with egg yolk and parmesan flakes
Outpost Carbonara (S$16) – fettucine pan-fried in bacon oil and creamy white wine sauce topped with egg yolk and parmesan flakes
Crispy Pork Belly (S$18) - slab of pork belly marinated in chef's secret recipe, served with mash and salad
Crispy Pork Belly (S$18) – slab of pork belly marinated in chef’s secret recipe, served with mash and salad
The texture of the pork belly was pretty good
The texture of the pork belly was pretty good
Buttermilk Chicken (S$16) - half spring chicken marinated in buttermilk and herbs mix, coated with matzo bits, deep fried till golden brown, served with fries and salad
Buttermilk Chicken (S$16) – half spring chicken marinated in buttermilk and herbs mix, coated with matzo bits, deep fried till golden brown, served with fries and salad
Grilled Squid (S$14) - fresh whole squid grilled and topped with tangy coriander and lime sauce
Grilled Squid (S$14) – fresh whole squid grilled and topped with tangy coriander and lime sauce
Piccata of Pork (S$18) - pan-fried parmesan battered pork loin topped with cheese sauce, served with spaghetti
Piccata of Pork (S$18) – pan-fried parmesan battered pork loin topped with cheese sauce, served with spaghetti
Chocolate Lave (S$14) - feather-light crust with molten chocolate center served with vanilla ice cream
Chocolate Lave (S$14) – feather-light crust with molten chocolate center served with vanilla ice cream
Mango Float (S$12) - layered graham biscuit with mango cream, topped with fresh mango slices
Mango Float (S$12) – layered graham biscuit with mango cream, topped with fresh mango slices

“Our neighbors have been more than kind to us,” said owner Alfred Toh.

“We are seeing our neighbors for Sunday brunch and for dinner or late night drinks. We get to know their families, children, and even pets!”

Outpost 903 is opened till quite late on most days – up till 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. If you stay in the Bukit Timah residential area, it will be a nice place to hangout.

For drinks, Outpost 903 features more than forty beers and ciders, with six beers on tap, and a long list of wine and spirits.

Outpost 903 Gastrobar

Address: 903 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 589620
Tel: +65-6468-4903
email: info@outpost903.com
Opening Hours:
Wed – Thu: 15:00 – 00:00
Fri – Sat: 15:00 – 03:00
Sun: 10:00 – 00:00
Mon: 15:00 – 00:00
Tues: Closed

Bellwethers Bistro Bar @ Desker Road

Yes, you read it correctly.

Bellwethers Bistro Bar is located at Desker Road, the infamous red light district in Singapore for the budget-conscious.

Bellwethers Bistro and Bar
Bellwethers Bistro Bar

The owners were inspired by their travel to Amsterdam and felt it will be interesting to locate their restaurant in a colourful neighbourhood. Geylang is the designated red light district in Singapore, but is also where all the good food are. Why not Desker Road too?

The restaurant’s location makes it an interesting place to hang out and do some people watching – the foreign workers diaspora in the Little India area, budget travelers staying in the many backpackers’ hostels in the area and of course, a little of the sleaze that sometime spill from the hidden back alleys.

Open bar
Open bar

Rest assured it is safe. We are still in Singapore whereby it is safe in the street, even past midnight. The restaurant is also located on the main street along Desker Road, near to many commercial shophouses where the pedestrian traffic is quite high.

I quite like the ambience. Who would have thought there is a nice little restaurant hidden in a corner of Desker Road?

All the meat at the restaurant are freshly prepared by the chef at an open grill:

The open grill
The open grill
Bellwethers' Chef Warren at work
Bellwethers’ Chef Warren at work

Here are the items I tried at Bellwethers Bistro Bar:

Pan fried prawns and eggs tapas (S$10)
Pan fried prawns and eggs tapas (S$10)
Cucumber drink
Cucumber drink
Iberian pork collar salad (S$13) - love this, must-try
Iberian pork collar salad (S$13) – love this, must-try
Chicken strips with spicy tomato dip (S$9)
Chicken strips with spicy tomato dip (S$9)
Grilled Herb Infused Chicken (serves 3) S$30
Grilled Herb Infused Chicken (serves 3) S$30

The chicken is marinated in brine and herbs for six hours to tenderize the flesh, then grilled over fire. The dish is served with chicken port sauce and Romesco sauce (a blend of almonds, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil).

Iberian Presa with roasted pineapple (serves 3-4) S$70
Iberian Presa with roasted pineapple (serves 3-4) S$70

The Iberian pork collar is dipped into a marinate that consists of soya sauce, thyme, garlic, balsamic vinegar and hot oil. The oil mix creates an emulsion thus enhancing the flavours of the marinate, giving a crispier caramilisation.

Close-up shot of the pork
Close-up shot of the pork

The dish is served with homemade pork sauce made with roasted pork bones and chicken boiled with mirepoix (chopped vegetables) and red wine vinegar. The pineapple is first poached in a mixture of sugar syrup, rosemary, black peppercorn, Szechuan peppercorn, star anise and cinnamon to infuse the flavours. After infusion, the meat is roasted on the grill with olive oil.

Lamb Rack with grilled vegetables. (serves 2-3) S$60
Lamb Rack with grilled vegetables. (serves 2-3) S$60
Close-up shot of the lamb
Close-up shot of the lamb

The lamb rack is cooked as a whole and then rested to make sure the juices circulate. A layer of fats is kept on the lamb so that it is moist as it grills.

Close-up shot of the grilled vegetables
Close-up shot of the grilled vegetables

The lamb is served, dressed with a raspberry mint sauce, together with grilled vegetables seasoned consisting of carrots, onions, red and yellow peppers and kailan stem. Note that the vegetables may vary according to market seasonal offering. Sometimes there may be bamboo shoot, asparagus or beetroot.

Beef prime rib with chunky mash (Serves 4-5) S$130/kg
Beef prime rib with chunky mash (Serves 4-5) S$130/kg

Rangers Valley dry-aged 300 days grain-fed Wagyu beef is used for this dish. The beef is further dry-aged by the chef for at least 10 more days in the kitchen to enhance the flavours, then broiled over the open grill. The mashed potato side is cooked with homemade roasted garlic butter and rustically served for sharing.

Close-up shot of the beef
Close-up shot of the beef

Nice isn’t it?

The prices are pretty reasonable too, considering the premium meat cuts and the generous servings.

Bellwethers Bistro Bar is running a special promotion with Alvinology.com. Simply say” “I am from alvinology.com” if you visit Bellwethers Bistro Bar  and enjoy a FREE glass of lychee Martini per person, no strings attached, no minimum order! This offer is valid till 30 October 2013. Sweet? 🙂

Bellwethers Bistro Bar

Address: 120 Desker Road
Phone: 6297-9066
Hours: Mon – Sat: 17:00 – 01:00, Closed: Sun

Ayataka – Heaven and Earth’s newest Japanese Green Tea

Coca-Cola Singapore recently announced the launch of Ayataka, a ready-to-drink Japanese Green Tea bearing the taste and cloudiness of authentic Japanese teapot-brewed tea.

Ayataka is the newest addition to the Heaven and Earth tea range, which includes other drinks such as Jasmine Green Tea, Ice Lemon Tea, Ice Passionfruit tea and Honey Chamomile Green Tea.

Ayataka is described by Coca-Cola as  brewed using carefully selected tea leaves, contains no preservatives and is calorie free. By gently swirling the product before drinking, you can see the cloudiness and enjoy the experience of drinking traditional green tea on-the-go.

I tried Ayataka and like the fact that it is not sweet. I like drinking tea, but I find many of the canned or bottled tea drinks too sweet for my liking. Ayataka is a nice addition to a narrow list of non-sweet tea options for me.

The part on the cloudiness is interesting, but I do not find it necessary to masquerade the drink into authentic Japanese teapot-brewed tea which it is obviously not. It works for other consumers though – like the 100 maiko (apprentice geisha) and geiko (geisha) whom Coca-Cola said it did a taste test with:

“In a taste test conducted in Kyoto, Japan, with 100 maiko (apprentice geisha) and geiko (geisha), Ayataka emerged amongst other leading Japanese green tea brands in Singapore as the closest to authentic Japanese teapot brewed tea, as well as the best tasting Japanese green tea.”

Heaven and Earth Ayataka Japanese Green Tea comes in 315ml cans, 500ml bottles and 1.5L bottles. It is sold at all major supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores and coffee shops across Singapore and is priced from S$0.75 to S$1.75.

In conjunction with Ayataka’s launch, from 20th August to 15th October 2013, consumers will stand the chance to win authentic Japanese experiences that include a trip to Japan, Japanese spa treatments, as well as Japanese dining vouchers. Visit the official Coca-Cola Singapore website for more details.

Tim Ho Wan (添好運) @ Toa Payoh Central

Riding on the success of it’s first restaurant in Singapore at Plaza Singapura, Michelin star Hong Kong dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan (添好運) has opened a second outlet in Singapore.

Tim Ho Wan at Toa Payoh
Tim Ho Wan at Toa Payoh

I am super happy because it is located in Toa Payoh Central, my residential neighbourhood. Now, I can boast to others that I stay near a Michelin star restaurant!

I had always wanted to try the dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, but I cannot bring myself to join the long queue at the Plaza Singapura restaurant. Queuing more than an hour for food is too crazy for me.

Now with a second outlet opened and a third one upcoming in Bedok, hopefully, the queue will spread itself out among the three restaurants. 

I was among the fortunate few who were invited for a private dinner tasting at the Toa Payoh outlet opening together with Tim Ho Wan’s chef-founder Mak Kwai Pui and the Singapore restaurants co-owner, Singapore-born, Hong Kong-based Mr Robert Chua, a well-known television personality often credited for being one of Asia’s pioneer broadcasters.

Chef Mak on the left with me and my friend, Han Joo
Chef Mak Kwai Pui on the left with me and my friend, Han Joo
Han Joo and I with the super friendly Mr Robert Chua
Han Joo and I with the super friendly Mr Robert Chua

These are the dishes I sampled:

The signature Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (S$4.50 for 3)
The signature Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (S$4.50 for 3) – Top must-try item!
A little crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside
A little crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside
Prawn dumplings ($$5.50 for 4) - I love these, the skin is thin and it's juicy inside
Prawn dumplings ($$5.50 for 4) – I love these, the skin is thin and it’s juicy inside
Fried Noodle with BBQ Pork and Soy Sauce (S$6.00)
Fried Noodle with BBQ Pork and Soy Sauce (S$6.00)
Deep Fried Dumpling with Salted Meat (S$3.80)
Deep Fried Dumpling with Salted Meat (S$3.80)
The filling
The filling
 Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce (S$4.20)
Vermicelli Roll with Sweet and Sesame Sauce (S$4.20)
Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling (S$5)
Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling (S$5)
Pan Fried Carrot Cake (S$4.50 for 3)
Pan Fried Carrot Cake (S$4.50 for 3)
Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp (S$3.80 for 4)
Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp (S$3.80 for 4)
Steamed Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce (S$5)
Steamed Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce (S$5)
Steamed Egg Cake (S$3.80)
Steamed Egg Cake (S$3.80) – must-try
Mango Pomelo Sago (S$5.00)
Mango Pomelo Sago (S$5.00)
Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake (S$3.50) - this is good, must-try
Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake (S$3.50) – this is good, must-try

Delighted with what I tried, I braved the queue over the next weekend with my wife and son, determined that my family should also savour the good stuff I had tried.

Surprisingly, the queue took only about half an hour even though it extended all the way from the restaurant entrance to the elevator. There are also seats for those queuing, so the experience was not too bad. Rachel and I did some reading while Asher was fast asleep in his stroller.

Queue outside the restaurant
Queue outside the restaurant

The food was really good. Here are some additional items I tried with my family:

Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver (S$5.50) - must-try
Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver (S$5.50) – must-try
Porridge for Asher
Porridge for Asher
Asher enjoying his meal
Asher enjoying his meal

So good I went back again a few days later for my farewell lunch with two of my omy.sg colleagues. I also ordered 15 boxes of the signature char siew buns to bring back as treats for my SPH colleagues. Note that the restaurant does not offer takeaway service – they will provide you with styrofoam boxes and plastic bags, but the 10% service charge and 7% GST still apply for takeaway orders.

After having eaten at Tim Ho Wan, I now understand why people are willing to queue for over two hours for it. You have to try it to understand. 🙂

Tim Ho Wan (添好運)

Address: ERA Centre, 450 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #02-02, Singapore 319394
Tel: +65-6483-2000 (no, they do not accept reservations)