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.

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. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oriole Coffee Roasters

Oriole Coffee roasts, brews and educates about coffee. There are shops at Somerset and Raffles Place. This place in Jiak Chuan Road in the Tanjong Pagar shophouse area just opened about a month ago. My husband and I happened to chance upon in when walking around the area.

We went there for coffee and brunch this morning.

Cappuccino $5

The coffee had sound flavor but was a bit on the bitter side. Frothing was a lot better than a lot of places but felt watery instead of creamy. The Barista said that they use Green Fields full cream milk. I've had coffee in other places that use Green Fields and the froth in those places have the same watery texture. 

I'm not sure what the protein and fat content of this is but somehow it doesn't give a rich mouth feel to the froth. Green Fields use Australian cows but are reared in East Java for part of their life. I wonder if the rearing of the cows in East Java will have some impact on the milk. 

Strawberry cream cake $3.80

This was not a bad cake. The strawberry sponge was moist and quite light. I'm not a fan of butter cream    though which is the other component of the cake. I find butter cream too oily and rich. Also, I think that this is so when premium butter is not used which we cannot expect for at $3.80. 

Truffle infused Eggs with tomatoes and toast $6.90

The eggs were nice and fluffy. While I could smell the truffle, I could not taste it at all with the eggs. The chef uses truffle cream here. Perhaps a slight sprinkling of truffle salt or adding mushrooms to the eggs may help enhance the taste of the truffle in the eggs. The tomatoes were nice and plump. According to the barista, they use Roma tomatoes. I could definitely taste the difference as local tomatoes are not as sweet and tend to be a lot more watery. The bread is a let down here. The bread is the traditional soft white bread that goes well with kaya. However, a crusty bread would have gone much better with soft eggs.

This is a nice warm space to hang out that serves decent coffee. The shophouse is also used to roast coffee, have corporate training events and serves as Oriole's head quarters. 

Opening Hours: Mon- Fri 10am -6pm
Contact Number: 6224 8131

Italian Wine and Food Pte Ltd

Italian Wine and Food Pte Ltd- 4/5 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

The Wine Gallery

Wine Gallery- 4/5 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

Look at my other post Wine shops in Tanjong Pagar for other wine shops in area

Love Mi

This is a newly opened clothes shop on Keong Saik Road.
The clothes are priced between $20- $40. Most of them are one size fit all. I don't think the quality of the fabrics and cut are great and some designs are generic but it is hard to find buys these days at such prices. Especially if it is not mass produced so this is a nice find. 

Some Clothes I thought were quite nice:
Pretty mustard frock $28

White jacket with gold metal rim $45

Pink top with full zipper behind $26

Opening Hours: Mon- Fri 1030am- 7pm; Sat 11am- 7pm; Sun closed
Contact Number: 62212962

Nicolas Le Restaurant (Moved)

Nicolas Le Restaurant is situated at Keong Saik Road a few doors down from Pasta Inc. and Taratata Bistrot
My husband and I went down there for a set meal lunch. The place accepts babies in prams, this was a relief.

The three course lunch plus some extras on the house is $42+. Some mains have an additional charge.

My husband ordered a glass of Shiraz. The Shiraz was quite ordinary. It tasted pleasant but did not have depth in complexity and length that a good wine has. At $19, I would consider it expensive and don't think I will be ordering wine here again.

However, the food at this place was very good. In fact, even though Nicholas can be considered fine dining, it has an unpretentious feel in the place and the food matches up to the prices (even for dinner). The dinner degustation without wine is $98+ and in Singapore for the standard, this is very reasonable.

Duck Rillettes on toast

This was a free starter. Rillettes is similar to pate. It is usually cooked in low heat and blended in fat to form a rustic paste. The rillettes were rich on the mouth and smooth. With the crusty toast, it created complementary textures.

Egg with truffle oil and smoked eel

The eggshell top was removed to create this beautiful presentation. My guess is that the egg was steamed to a stage where the whites and yolks are still semi runny. This was topped with truffle oil. Eggs and truffles are a classic combination that always go well together. The surprise of this dish was the addition of smoked eel. It added another dimension of flavor to the dish. The smoked eel was almost like a piece of meat in texture and taste. It's pretty hard to describe why this dish works as I would have never thought that it could. It's a bit different from any combination I have eaten and a real surprise.

Ravioli with garlic cream & marjoram , morel mushroom emulsion and tomato confit

This was extremely good. The pillows of ravioli were soft but packed with garlic cream. This is what a true ravioli should be like. The tomato confit provided acidity and sweetness to the slightly earthy morel emulsion. 

Hokkaido Scallop, caponata, chorizo, clams infused with saffron emulsion and scallop chips

The hokkaido scallop was partly cooked so it was really sweet. Chorizo, saffron, clams, scallops are always a fantastic combination. I don't think one can really go wrong with this. The only thing I'm not sure was necessary was the caponata. I'm not sure if it added much value to the dish. Perhaps just using red peppers to sweeten the dish will be enough. The scallop chips were excellent. I would love to find out how it is done. 

Slow cooked pigeon and leg confit

Pigeon isn't commonly seen in many restaurant menus in Singapore. But it's coming close to Christmas and some places do serve it during this season. I liked the pigeon leg confit as it was browned and quite crispy on the outside. The slow cooked pigeon was very well done but not mind blowing. I felt like the sauce could be richer because pigeon tends to have quite a strong gamey flavour and needs a strong sauce to pair it with.

Tasmania lamb

My husband's lamb dish was really good. If you can see from the pictures, the lamb is cooked to pink perfection. It was browned outside and tender inside. The Jus that went with it was more flavourful. You can see this just from the darker colour of the sauce in the photos.

Trio of desserts- chocolate fondant, creme caramel, yogurt ice cream

This was a bit of a let down after all the great courses. The fondant was like a mousse with just a cake like topping. The creme caramel was a bit weak. The best of the three was the yogurt ice cream which was smooth and creamy. 

Chef Nicolas seems to succeed where a lot of fine dining chefs fail in that he is able to achieve the complexity of layering flavors and seasoning each dish well. I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about this talented chef. The only downside to his food is the dessert. Most fine dining establishments hire a dessert chef as it is very hard to be excellent in both savoury and sweet. Both require quite different techniques. I'm not sure if Nicolas has a dessert chef.

The service had some drawbacks like taking a long time to serve water. However, the wait staff were knowledgeable enough about the food. This is better than most fine dining restaurants where the wait staff often have no idea on where the food or wine come from.

I'm definitely going back.

Website: http://www.restaurantnicolas.com/therestaurant.html
Location: 31 Keong Saik Road
Opening Hours: Tues- Fri 12pm- 2pm; Tues- Sat 6:30pm- 10pm; Closed on Mon & Sun
Contact Number: 62242404
Prices: About $50- $60 for lunch for the basic set

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miz Japanese Restaurant

Tanjong Pagar is a hot spot for restaurants but its growth market at the moment seems to be for Japanese food. I can count 3 Japanese eateries that have opened up in the area within the last 4 months.

Miz is one of the many Japanese restaurants in Tanjong Pagar. In fact, it is just opposite Meii Sushi. I think Miz opened about a year and half ago, so I would say that it is one of the "older" Japanese establishments in the area. It also happens to be one of my favourite dinner spots.

Some dishes i had for dinner tonight

 Grilled Salmon Belly $15

This was very good. The grilled Salmon Belly melted in my mouth due to the fat content. There was a sort of radish ponzu accompaniment that went well with the salmon belly.

Chilled garlic Udon

This is usually one of my favourite dishes there but tonight it fell a bit short of the usual standard. The butter and garlic flavour seemed a bit weak compared to normal. This combination with udon is usually very good and a must try.

Ark shellfish sashimi $25

The presentation is almost a work of art. The shellfish is crunchy, sweet and fresh. Its very similar to geoduck. However, the amount at $25 per hit is a bit too much for me. For that reason I'm not sure if I will have it again.

Another dishes that I recommend here:
The Prawns Tempura. The batter they use here is light and crispy.
The Oyster Dynamite. Oysters are baked with Japanese Mayo and fish roe. The Mayo has a tart sweetness that enhances the flavour of the oyster.

Location: 7 Craig Road
Opening hours: Mon - Fri 1130am - 12am, Sat - Sun 12pm - 10pm
Contact Number: 62255761
Prices: About $25- $40 for dinner depending on what is ordered.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Black Gold

1st recorded visit

The eateries below HDBs are traditionally coffee shops. However, a new slew of boutique eateries is starting to pop up in Tanjong Pagar Plaza Block 7 HDB that break the traditional mould.

Meii Sushi was the first.  Now, Black Gold cafe has just opened. Blue Mist pub will be opening soon (this is moved from Amara hotel). So look out for more updates in the Tanjong Pagar Plaza space.

Post pregnancy, a friend of mine popped by for lunch. I wanted to go out but it needed to be close to home for me to cope with the pregnancy wounds and the newborn. Fortunately, Tanjong Pagar is such a great spot to live that I can pop in for lunch in numerous places within mins. This was a good chance for me to try Black Gold cafe.

Black Gold cafe specializes in coffee and affordable french cuisine.

Latte & Traditional coffee  

My husband is a bit of a coffee addict and had 2 coffees.
I only had a sip at the latte. The latte was decent with a proper froth. My opinion is that it isn't in the same league as The Plain or Highlander Coffee but it is far better than what you get in most places.
I did not try the traditional coffee as I have have been advised against too much caffeine during breast feeding. The wait staff said that the local coffee here is a lot stronger than in most coffee shops. He said most coffee shops have coffee that can only make one stay alert for an hour, but this one has enough strength to last one for several hours. If strong coffee is your thing perhaps you should try this out

Pork Sausage with Lentils and mash

We did lunch there as well. There are some good lunch deals there for about $10-$13 dollars. This includes a soup/ salad, a main course and a tea/ coffee.

I had the sausages for my main. This is like bangers and mash but I guess I can say what makes it french are the lentils. The sausage was undercooked the first time and had to be sent back. Other than that mistake, the dish was quite good. A lot of sausages served outside are bad. This pork sausage didn't taste too oily or dry and it went well with savoury mash and lentils. It wasn't a wow dish but everything was seasoned properly.

Chicken Legs in red wine sauce

My friend had chicken legs in red wine sauce. I think this dish is traditionally done with frogs legs. Chicken was braised and tender in a rich tomato sauce. 

Stuffed tomato with pork and olives
This is the lightest meal among the three and I think its a good option if you don't want a heavy lunch. The ratatouille is quite nice. The stuffed tomato is a healthy and tasty option. 
I can't say any of the dishes were spectacular but everything was quite nice. If you want a good affordable lunch in the CDB area for a good price, this is a place to consider. 

Meals during subsequent visits:

2nd visit


The Salmon was very fresh, moist with a nice brown sear on the outside. This was good as it is very easy to overcook fish. 

Location: Blk 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Prices: About $2- $5 for a tea or coffee. Set lunches come at about $10 - $13