Tanjong Pagar

Tanjong Pagar was a historic centre for Singapore's Chinese community. It is now a cosmopolitan area within walking distance of the CDB with a wide range of old and new shops. It is a good place for a lunch time meal with office workers, a post work hangout area for pubs and fine dining and a pleasant place to explore cafes and eclectic shops on a lazy weekend afternoon.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Savor Rye La Mian Xiao Long Bao

This place is a hidden gem.
As it is next to Chef Icon, it is the perfect place to have some lunch before heading to Chef Icon for dessert.
Xiao Long Bao

Forget Din Tai Fung. This place has cheaper and better Xiao Long Bao. The Xiao Long Bao is juicy and filled with the wonderful broth that squirts out when you bite into it. Best still, 4 Xiao Long Bao only costs $3.80. They are bigger than what you get in Din Tai Fung as you need 2 bites to finish it. I actually prefer it smaller as I like to be able to eat my Xiao Long Bao in a bite. But oh well, you get more for less money so...

The only other complaint I have about these Xiao Long Bao is the lack of decent chilli oil in this place. The chilli oil they have is lacking of flavor and bite.

Guo Tie

Other dishes here I would recommend is their vegetables in salted egg sauce and their Guo Tie.

Location: 3 Kampong Bahru Road
Contact Number: 62235038
Opening Hours: 11am- 11pm
Prices: Under $10 per person

Wok and Barrel

I have been to this place for desserts before. The desserts are interesting enough as it is fusion style but not quite to my taste buds. Since I have no pictures of them I will not elaborate on them.

It's a nice place to sit in air conditioning for a meal that is about $10.
I will speak about the Nasi Lemak I had with a friend for lunch.

Nasi Lemak pulled pork

My friend had the Nasi Lemak with fried chicken. I had the Nasi Lemak with pulled pork.

Both were alright. The fried chicken was nicely fried and crispy. My pulled pork had the shredded texture you expect. But at the end, it was not a great Nasi Lemak. The taste of the rice and chilli was ordinary. You would eat it without a thought as it doesn't have any Wow factor.

This is a nice place to fill your tummy and have a chat. But expect nothing out of the ordinary.

Website: http://www.thewokandbarrel.com/
Location: 13 Duxton Hill
Opening Hours: Tues- Sat 1130am-10pm; Sun 1130am - 4pm
Contact Number: 62200595

Wine shops in Tanjong Pagar

My brother who knows a bit about wine went around with me to do a review of 3 wine shops in Tanjong Pagar.

We based the rating off 5 stars.
The review looks at the range of wines, the prices, the staff knowledge and service and the store layout

Italian Wine and Food Pte Ltd- 4 stars

There was a good selection of wines all over Italy. Wines such as the usual Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti, Sardinia, Amorone and a selection from Campania are available. They also had Moscato d'Asti and Franciacorta. I personally wish there were more wines from Fruili and other parts of Italy but taking into consideration the number of wine regions in Italy, this would a difficult thing to expect.

Considering some of the wines are from boutique wineries with medium to high quality, prices are not cheap especially with a half-bottle of Amorone costing about $70 and a Moscato d'Asti at around $65. Unless you have deep pockets, the Barolos and Barbarescos are highly-priced but that is very common given that those are famous region. There is an range of affordable wines if one needed an everyday drink that is of better quality than your typical supermarket grog.

Staff Knowledge and service
The boss of the store is Italian. He is very passionate about his wines and familiar with the wines of Italy. He knows the grapes of the region as well as obscure regions in Italy. He also understands the Tuscany wine scene and that commerciality has overtaken the region, therefore he seems to have taken care in the selection wineries to represent from Tuscany. When asked about a wine to recommend with a squid salad dish, he recommended a Sparkling rose wine which fits the dish well. He also understood his recommended wines well and knew how to serve them to get the best out of the experience. He is mindful of the customer in that he put the purchased bottle in a double bag to protect the bottle.

Store layout
The layout was fine but they could have improved it by putting clear labels of the wine regions of Italy.

Location: 12 Jiak Chuan Road
Contact Number: 6323 3203

Wine Gallery- 4 stars

A very good range of wines from all over the world with prices of every kind. They could improve by intorducing a better range of rose and sherries.

Prices are very competitive and it is not hard to find a good bottle at a attractive price. Wines such as Coldstream Hills and Leeuwin Cabernet Sauvignon are sold at reasonable prices.

Staff Knowledge and Service
When asked about what wine to go with a dish, the staff recommended a unoaked chardonnay from mendoza. The choice was not wrong but it would have been good to see the staff ask questions about how the dish was cooked and explain in what way the wine selected would have gone well with the dish. The staff also had very good knowledge of what wines were available in the shop.

Store Layout
Very good layout but they could do better to separate the wines by region or grape varietal. Lighting was fantastic and there was a board on the wall that explained technical wine terms. This is a comfortable place for tasting

Location: 33  Keong Saik Rd
Contact Number: 64795406

Straits Wine Company- 3 stars

This store is very French, Australia and New Zealand focused. They could od better to increase teh range of German, Loire and wines from other parts of the world. They do have a decent selection of rose wines.

The wines are priced decently

Staff knowledge and service
Staff knew what wines were available but was not very familiar with the prices unless he checked them on each bottle. The staff recommended a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling with the dish which complements but did not go further to understand more about the dish or explain why the wines would be suitable.

Store layout
The store is quite dim and could use more lighting. Finding the prices of the wine can be challenging as the price is written on a small price tag that is concealed behind the front label of each bottle.  

Location: 53 Craig Road
Contact Number: 65930523
Opening Hours: Mon- Wed 10am- 830pm; Thurs- Sat 10am - 10pm

Other places for wine in the area
1) Magma
This place has a restaurant and specialises in German wines. 

This has a mix of wines, beers and spirits

3) Wine Mansion
I haven't really gone in properly to look at the selection in this place before
It is at Keong Saik St opposite Wine Gallery

Monday, December 19, 2011

Red Riding Hood

This is another shop that is popping up in the HDB that defies the convention of traditional HDB shops.

Cakes, cupcakes and cookies

This new place is a comforting place for the working crowd to sit down to have a drink and cake. An alternative to kopi Os and Tehs. 

I had their hot chocolate which is a mixture of liquid chocolate and powdered chocolate. This is better than most places that only have powder chocolate. However, at about $6.50 per cup, I still would expect pure tasty liquid chocolate to be the base of this drink. I understand liquid chocolate is more expensive and also takes more work. But powdered chocolate is way too sweet and always has an artificial taste.

I was given a pecan cookie and a ginger snap cookie to sample. Both are delicious and not too sweet. The only thing is that I find the pricing a bit on the high side at $9.50 per box of about 10. Its nice to be able to indulge in it once in a while but I won't be buying a big box anytime soon. Pecans are not cheap though so perhaps that goes into the pricing.

I must say that I love the Tanjong Pagar area as new interesting shops are always popping up. Also like in this place, most of owners are friendly and happy to chat. 

Cupcakes that I got recently:


Apple cinnamon

Both were pretty good. Cream was not sickly sweet. But at ~$3.50 a pop, pretty expensive.

Website: http://www.facebook.com/RedRidingHoodPL
Address: Block 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #02-102
Contact Number: 96497989

Monday, December 12, 2011

Selfish Gene

This opened sometime last week. I was quite bewildered by the name. Why would anyone call their cafe Selfish Gene?

A couple of black boards in the cafe gave the hint. Gene is the owner of which he is selfish because… I will let you go there and find out for yourself.

Unimportant details aside, I was pleasantly surprised by this new find.


The coffee was really quite good. It was light and smooth. My only slight complaint was the froth. Upon speaking to the owner and barista, I was told they used Green Fields milk. This is the same problem with many other cafes that use Green Fields milk (look at Oriole) The barista said they also use Highlander Coffee Beans of which Green Fields milk work best with. Maybe this is so because the beans don't seem to be that strong and using a lighter milk will be better with such beans. I'm not completely convinced though. I like my froth with more robust texture.

Pesto with poached egg and toast ~ $10

This was pretty good as well. The poached egg gave the dish texture. Pesto came on a crunchy piece of toast. I'm not sure what the red stuff is and if it is necessary….

Banana cake with peanut butter sauce and crumble ~ $7

This was pretty yummy. The sweet cake with the salty peanut butter sauce. Again, there is a play with textures with the crumble. The owners here just understand textures which is something most places lack in cooking. My only suggestion to the owner was if the banana bread could be warm or toasted. I'm used to eating my banana bread warm. 

I spoke to the owner and found out that he and another staff used to work in the St Pierre's Kitchen. This is the fine dining restaurant by chef Emmanuel Stroobant. Its quite a good restaurant (although I would say too over hyped). So its no surprise then that the food in this place is quite good and the use of textures in food is understood here.

Subsequent visits

The barista did 2 lattes for me to compare. One latte used Green fields milk and the other Pura milk. Green fields milk is used generally as the barista feels that it suits the highlander beans better in terms of taste. After tasting the 2 lattes using different milk, I still like Pura milk better. Pura milk is from Australia and provides a richer foam and a creamer latte. Highlander beans produce quite a mild coffee and perhaps from that angle Greenfield does blend well with the coffee made from those beans.

I was quite touched that the barista made me 2 coffees to try and made an effort to see what I preferred as a customer.

Other dishes I have had there:

Lemon Meringue Pie

The crust of this was good although I would have liked it more crumbly. Lemon curd was nice and tart. The pie had a nice meringue burnt top. Most places only make lemon tart and not the Meringue Pie so this was quite nice. 
The desserts in this place are a good size.

Bread and Butter Pudding

I don't like bread and butter pudding unless it is a good one. This is good. Creme anglaise makes the pudding richer and cuts through the sour berries. Good combination of flavors and well thought through.

Location: 40 Craig Road
Opening hours: 10am- 6pm except tuesdays
Contact Number: 64231324

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amici Italian Restaurant

Amici is set in a shophouse in Craig Road that also has a charming little front courtyard.

On sight, it looks inviting and relaxing.

In the restaurant

We had sunday brunch there at about noon.

Egg Omelette and toast

My friend had this for brunch. I didn't have a bite but it looked pretty ordinary. My friend said it was ok but she could make it at home which says a lot about the dish.

Salami and eggplant on toast

This was fine but was actually very boring and unspectacular. Again, it is something that can be recreated at home without too much fuss.

Big Breakfast

My husband had this and the coffee. The coffee was really quite badly done. Big breakfast- ham, eggs, toast, bacon. I think that when big breakfast is served in restaurants it needs to be done with a twist or with very fresh ingredients. 

Mixed cured meats $24

I felt a bit cheated by this. $24 for a couple of slices laid out. It would have been ok if the quality was great but it wasn't. 
I'm not a fan of the white stuff called lardo which is cured strips of fat. However, what I have heard is that the lardo in Italy is really very good so don't be completely put off by it. 
Mortadella which is the cured meat that looks like ham. It is pork sausage which in this case has pieces of green olives in it. This tastes like it comes from cold storage.
The parma ham is the real disappointment cos I have tasted better parma ham from cold storage. Good parma ham is rich in taste and has a sweetness to it underneath the saltiness. In this case, the parma ham was almost bland. I have never tasted a bland parma ham.
The Salami was slightly spicy and this was the same stuff I think that they put on my toast. The Salami flavor wasn't bad. I quite liked it. 

Overall, this first experience isn't beckoning me to return. The Plain and a new cafe Selfish Gene are only a few doors down and both serve good coffee and breakfast. I think this place will have to lift their game on both food and coffee to compete at a brunch level. 

Location: 11 Craig Road

Soju Bang Korean Restaurant

Soju Bang is one of the many Korean restaurants on Tanjong Pagar Road. There are so many Korean places in Tanjong Pagar that one will be lost trying to choose a suitable one.

Some dishes we had:

Assortment of Kimchi

I don't really like kimchi. It is usually too sour for my taste. Preserved vegetables don't go well with my taste buds. This place had a good variety but nothing I particularly liked.


This is an assortment of vegetables with rice. The dish is mixed with a chilli pepper sauce to enhance its flavor. It tasted alright but nothing exciting.

Kimchi pancake

I found the pancake not crispy enough for my liking. 

Pork grilled

This was not grilled brown enough for me and was a sad grey color. If it was browned more and the fat more crisp, I'm sure it would have tasted much better. 

Most of the dishes were about $20. The bill for 4 of us came to about $85 and there was a lot of food. Soju Bang is reasonable priced but I'm not a big fan of Korean food. I find the flavors too one dimensional and the dishes too oily.

Location: 46 Tanjong Pagar Road
Price: About $20 per pax
Contact Number: 62276033
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 1130am- 230pm; 530pm - 3am

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Latteria Mozzarella bar

This place used to be the Jackson Plan but has been changed to an casual Italian restaurant. Beppe de Vito who runs the place. He also runs Forlino and ll Lido.

I think this is what they should have done in the first place instead of "fluffing" around for 6 months with the average food in  Jackson Plan! 
The main theme of the place is around mozzarella which is served in about 15 different forms as an entree. This mozzarella bar concept seems to have taken a leaf off Mario Batali's Restaurant. 

I love mozzarella and only had enough stomach space to share 2 entrees. Mozzarella after all is pretty filling given it is cheese.

Bufala with cherry tomatoes

This is a pretty common dish that can be seen in most italian restaurants. Like all Italian food, the success of a simple dish is dependent on the quality of the produce. The produce here was fresh and the dish very tasty. 
According to the wait staff, the tomatoes are from Italy. What I like about it more than the fact that the tomatoes are from italy is that they have flavor. Too many tomatoes grown in the region are mistreated when grown, they have too much water and not enough flavor.  The restaurant seems to suggest from their menu that their Bufala comes from Puglia in Campania. Some of you would know that Champagne can be only called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region. In a similar way, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana has protected status and comes only from Campania.  This is done to ensure a certain standard and quality of the Bufala. Bufala comes from Buffalo milk.

Fried Bocconcini balls in arrabiata Sauce

Little Bocconcini balls were covered with a crumb mix and fried. This is so delicious as it plays on textures. You cut through the crispy fried layer and the cheese oozes out. But it would all be too dry without the arrabiata sauce- tomato and chilli. 

 Vongole in a tomato base sauce

My husband ordered this. I only had one vongole because I'm currently having post pregnancy rashes and have to avoid seafood. It was rich packed with flavor. I think the same tomato base used for the arrabiata sauce for the bocconcini was used for this. 
We asked for bread so that my husband could wipe the sauce up. 

Risotto with truffle and smoked mozzarella

This had the wonderful aroma of truffles when it came to the table. The truffle paste was used for the dish. Smoked mozzarella in the risotto helped to create a even creamer risotto. It was a good dish but the portion was far too large for such a rich dish In fact, I think the dish may go better as a small entree with some mushrooms. I'm not quite sure if the rocket adds much to the dish.


This was huge. I mean huge. It was a portion for 2 or 3 rather than one. It was tasty enough but nothing special. It was just a typical tiramisu done well with good cream and good coffee cake pieces. The Etna pistachio tiramisu was definitely much better.
I have rarely been blown away by Italian desserts other than the gelatos anyway. 

This is one good Italian joint and I'm glad they decided to bring this concept in.

Location: 40 Duxton Hill
Contact Number: 68661988
Prices: About 80 per pax for 3 course meal excluding wine.
Speciality: Mozzarella Entrees

Friday, November 25, 2011

Woods in the books

Charming shopfront

Woods in the books is a charming independent bookshop specializing in picture books. The shop also houses the artwork and toys of co owner Mike Foo (aka moof). Its a great place to buy something special for a child or a local illustration for a friend.

Nicely laid out books

There is plenty of variety here from classics like Sempe and Maurice Sendak to other contemporary authors.

The ceilings have mobiles hanging from them, some which are toys that Mike Foo has done. 

Mural on wall that is Mike Foo's work

The mural on the wall and cards lining another wall are nice touches to the place.

Website: http://www.woodsinthebooks.sg/
Location: 58 Club St
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 9pm, Sun & PH: 12pm - 6pm
Contact number: 62229980


Ana is a boutique fashion shop in club street. I happened to bump into the owner a couple of months ago and have been meaning go to the shop but haven't had a chance till now.

The shop is feminine and beautiful reflecting the tastes of the owner and the clothes that are housed in it. 
You can see that the pieces in the shop are premium material, design and cut. A lot of the designers showcased here aren't found in other shops in Singapore that only have the typical brands e.g Prada. I think the owner really takes care in selecting the clothes for this shop as there seems to be a consistent feminine theme in the shop. 

Beautiful piece by Fleur Wood (on right). Unknown designer (on left).

The shop showcases one of my favourite designers- Australian designer Fleur Wood. This picture really doesn't give the dress justice as you can't see the quality of fabric or the beauty of the colour from the picture. 
I forgot to get the name of the designer for the second dress. As you can see, the dress is a ballet dream. It looks ethereal and floaty like out of a dream. The back is made out of a nude sheer material. I absolutely love the dress but I don't know many occasions that I can wear it for. Its like for a very special dinner. 

Princess dresses for children

My daughter is only 2 weeks old but was I ever so tempted to get one of these for her. Except that they come at a price- about $170 each.

The clothes in this place are truly unique and beautiful. As a result, they come at a price. Most pieces are between $300- $500 which you would expect for quality. I would rather pay for these pieces than Prada or Gucci. This is the shop to go to if I had to find something for a special event or wanted to treat myself.

Website: http://www.thestylefinder.com/anaboutique.php
Location: 86 Club St
Contact Number: 62212897

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Hanayoshi is fairly new in the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood having opened in August.

 My husband and I decided to try it out for lunch. Lunches are always a fraction of the dinner price and will give me an indication on how the dinner will be like.

Hanayoshi has a beautiful and clean setup. The Japanese restaurant looks classy and seems to be aimed at a fine dining crowd. Everything about the presentation of Hanayoshi is well thought through. From the design of the place, to the tea sets used, to the sauce containers and the layout of the dishes. I am impressed by the level of detail in the presentation.


This was quite good. It was like a belgium beer styled beer but made by a Japanese producer. The flavor was clean and fruity. 

Wagyu and Sashimi Set $42

I ordered the wagyu and sashimi set.
The salad was quite nice. It was chopped up surf clam with a green salad. The surf clam had a crunchy texture and was covered with mayo that went well with the sweetness of the clam. The salad had a soy type dressing.
Wagyu beef was covered with a teriyaki type sauce and had some melt in the mouth fat running through it. I must say I like my wagyu cooked in a simpler style without sauce. This is because I can taste the flavor of the fatty beef and enjoy it. This was a fairly generous wagyu helping as you can see in the picture. The sashimi was fresh. There was some variety with yellow tail, tuna, salmon and sweet prawn. 



My husband got the unagi and tempura set $38. The unagi was nicely glazed with a teriyaki type sauce. I think the tempura is the star of this dish. The tempura batter was light and crispy. You can see from the pictures how crispy they are. I could hear the crunch as I bit into the tempura. This goes well with beer.

The food here is quite good. I think the drawback of the place is the service. While the staff are friendly and polite and ready to meet any need, they may need some training in terms of food knowledge. 

I asked them if the salad had octopus and they said they had to check with the chef. They came back to tell me it was some sort of shellfish but could not tell me the type of shellfish. Similar, when I asked about the salad dressing, they did not know what was in it.

Fine dining establishments in Singapore often fall short as they don't train their staff sufficiently about the food that comes out of the kitchen. Hence, most wait staff are unable to answer the customer who is interested in finding out more. This generally sets apart ordinary service from extraordinary service- the passion to serve. 

I enjoyed lunch here but I'm not so sure about coming back for dinner. The dinner prices are a lot steeper.

Website: http://www.facebook.com/hanayoshi.sg?sk=wall
Location: 21 Duxton Road
Opening Hours: Mon- Sat 12pm- 230pm; 6:30pm- 10pm
Contact Number:
Prices: $15+ to $42+ for set lunch


Magma is situated at one end of Bukit Pasoh Road.

It has a retail store selling wines and other German goods like sausages.

We went there for a friend's birthday dinner. As Magma tends to have specials according to the produce in Germany that they import, the specials this month tend towards winter flavors and Christmas. I loved the specials this time, I think German food is made for Christmas.

2 types of Flammkuchen with bacon and onions, spinach and cheese

This German pizza was fairly light so I won't say its Christmas food. I always like this as a starter as the crusty is thin and light. It starts my stomach churning but doesn't make me too full. We ordered 2 types of "pizzas" here. The slight crunch of the onions provide texture to the dish and sweetness goes well with salty bacon and sour cream. The other flammkuchen which is spinach and cheese has less textural contrasts but has a lot of flavor.

Wine that went with the Pigeon

One thing I like about Magma is that their wines are affordable and generally taste good with their food Also, wines are not too expensive for the quality. We went with this on recommendation and that the goose would have this wine in it. The wine was spicy and earthy and went well with the gamey flavor of the goose.

Goose whole

 My friend commented that this was bigger than my newborn! I wish I have a better picture of it but if you were there you would be salivating over this dish. It was a good thing we had 6 people and could order this dish that was for 4-6.

Accompaniments with goose- Red apple cabbage and potato dumplings

Goose cut up with cranberry gravy 

Cabbage and potato dumplings went with the goose. These make for a hearty wintery meal. The goose had crispy skin on the outside and had meat that was moist and melt in your mouth. Combined with a dark rich acidic cranberry sauce, this was divine. It brought me to the white Christmas I was dreaming of. The goose was stuffed with fruit to flavor it.

Pieces of pancake with icing sugar, almonds and raisins

The pancake was fluffy and full of buttery goodness. This is a heart attack waiting to happen but it is divine. Its the sort of stuff you dream about for Christmas. I never like raisins but I love it on this dish. The sweetness of the raisins and the crunch of almonds make this dish happen. Plus when you add the plum sauce below that is both tart and sweet, the dish is complete. 

Plum Sauce to accompany pancakes

I am looking forward to more meals this festive season. I may consider coming back again before Christmas ends just for the goose. 

Opening Hours: 
Mon- Thurs: 12pm- 3pm, 6pm- 11pm
Fri: 12pm - 3pm, 6pm- 12am
Sat: 12pm - 12 am
Sun & PH: 11am (brunch) - 11pm 
Contact Number: 62210634
Prices: About $75 for wine and food.