Rubato Italian Kitchen and Bar, Greenwood Avenue

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On a quiet Wednesday afternoon my colleague brought me to the hidden makan place of Greenwood Avenue. We had Rubato, an Italian restaurant, for lunch.

Rubato has a fixed menu as well as a seasonal menu. If you’re not particularly craving for anything, I suggest hearing them out as the do have dishes of the day which are not on the menu.

Sauteed Fresh Clams with Chardonnay, $29.

The best part about a clams with white wine dish is the broth. This dish had a very pleasing and addictive flavour. The broth was gone before the clams were done. Wicked!

Slow Braised Spanish Octopus, $32.

I’m not a fan of squid and octopus because it’s hard hard to get them right; most of the time they end up rubbery and overly chewy. However, the octopus in this dish were so soft! Almost couldn’t tell I was eating octopus really. The sauce tasted quite similar to satay sauce, a surprise for me because it looked so heavily tomato based.

Hand Picked Crab Meat and Angel’s Hair Pasta, $40.

I’ve cooked Angel’s Hair Pasta before, and it turned out a disaster. It cooks really quickly, and gets lumpy once you take it out of the pasta water. For that reason, I don’t really eat dishes with Angel’s Hair Pasta. For this dish, I still don’t quite fancy the texture of the pasta, but the sauce was great! Sweet overtones and chunky crab meat aplenty. Yums.

Mushroom & Co Risotto, $22.

The risotto was done Al Dante. My colleague felt that it was a bit undercooked, which admittedly I did feel that the grains were slightly too hard. Nevertheless I loved the truffle aroma and the porcini mushroom puree really gave this mushroom dish a higher kick.

12 Greenwood Avenue, S(289204)

Weekdays: 1130am to 3pm, 530pm to 12am

Weekends: 11am to 12am

+65 6252 3200

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Hajime Tonkatsu and Ramen, myVillage at Serangoon Gardens

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Tonkatsu. Simple looking dish that’s difficult to execute well. I’ve eaten Tonkatsu from various places, and none of them had ever come close to Tonkichi. Until I tried Hajime.

I personally think that Hajime’s tonkatsu is nicer than Tonkichi’s.

Premium Pork Loin, $21.90.

They were running a promotion when I was there, using Kurobuta (black pig) instead of normal pork. No doubt it’s Kurobuta, but the thickness, doneness, crispyness, juicyness and flavour of the pork cutlet was never like I’ve eaten before.

My cutlet remained crispy all the way, and I enjoyed my pork cutlet right till the very last bite. The only thing that’ll keep me from visiting Hajime frequently is it’s location. myVillage at Serangoon Gardens is not exactly accessible, and after your meal there’s nothing much to do around the area.

1 Maju Avenue, myVillage at Serangoon Gardens, #02-7/8/9, S(556679)

Weekdays: 1130am to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm

Weekends: 1130am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm

+65 6509 9952

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Rang Mang Shokudo, Wisma Atria

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I’ve always thought that the Japanese eateries on the 4th floor of Wisma Atria were underrated. I suspect they may be hidden gems, so I aim to visit and write about all the eateries there someday. First up, Rang Mang Shokudo, famous for their Japanese fried chicken. It was actually recommended by a friend who swore by the flavour and texture of the fried chicken.

If you’re not in the mood for fried chicken, this is definitely not the place for you. It has only one main dish on the menu, and that is, you guessed it, fried chicken.

Large (20 pieces), $18.50. Comes with 3 sauces of your choice.

Rang Mang Shokudo does have sets which comes with fresh salad, potato salad and rice but after sharing the entire plate above with my friend, I can see why he recommended me to just go for the fried chicken and a bowl of rice.

Because you won’t be able to get enough of the chicken.

Rang Mang Shokudo’s fried chicken is not only juicy and tender, but most importantly the batter is thinly coated, just enough to give that crunch. I loved that it’s bite sized, easy to eat with my hand while sipping my beer with the other.

You get to choose from a wide variety of sauces, but if you’re there for the first time, go for the salted chicken. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s their top flavour for a reason.

Rang Mang Shokudo is one of the most underrated restaurants I’ve tried thus far. Now I’ve got a favourite karaage. You?

435 Orchard Road, #04-54 Wisma Atria, S238877

+65 6262 3504

Weekdays: 1130am to 11pm

Weekends: 11am to 11pm

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Tea Lounge Weekend High Tea, Regent Hotel

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How not to have your hopes up high when you see something like that greeting you as you step into Tea Lounge at Regent Hotel for their weekend high tea?

Fortunately, Tea Lounge lives up to the hype, and is worth every penny.

Tea Lounge’s weekend high tea is buffet style. While this means that you don’t get that atas feeling of being served little bites on a three tier fancy cake stand, but what you get in exchange is a whole selection of exquisite staples and sweets.

The Cold Dishes

Top left clockwise: Pistachio Crusted Tuna Salad with Avocado Cream, Pork Belly Salad with Anchovy Mayonnaise, Barbecued Duck Salad.

I liked the duck salad of the three. It’s wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber which makes the whole canape very refreshing.

Savory Bites

Top left clockwise: Roasted Wagyu Beef with Truffle Mayonnaise, Smoked Duck Breast and Mango Sandwich, Chanterelle Mushroom and Raclette Cheese Tart, Champagne Poached Tiger Prawn on Squid Ink Toast.

The Chanterelle Mushroom and Raclette Cheese Tart was mind blowing. The unassuming savoury tart was really flavourful and fragrant. On the contrary, the Smoked Duck Breast and Mango Sandwich was a little off. It was wrongly paired, and the components on its own were unflattering as well.

Caviar Station.

Surprise after surprise. Caviar madness! They have a good variety of condiments to go along with the caviar. I had mine with the raspberry dressing. Yums.

Local Delights

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.

From left: Kueh Pie-Ti, Braised Pork Belly, Fried

Laksa.

Wagyu Beef Rump.

Seafood Congee with Pork Meat Ball.

Surprise surprise. The best local delight was actually the Seafood Congee with Pork Meat Balls. Just look at the colour of the congee. Orange! Imagine the amount of prawns they had to put in to achieve this colour. So simple yet so delicious.

You can forgo the laksa. As tempting as it may look, the laksa wasn’t nice at all. I couldn’t bring myself to eat another spoonful of this.

Bonus dish! Char Siew with Passionfruit Sauce.

Halfway through the buffet the chef came out and started handing this dish out to everyone. The outermost layer was superbly well caramelised, and the fat to lean pork ratio was just nice. The Passionfruit Sauce cuts the oilyness very cleanly, making you crave for piece after piece.

Desserts

Yay, the highlight of any high tea — cakes!

From left clockwise: Poached Pear with Sugar Syrup, Citrus Cheesecake Tart, Caramel Apple Yuzu with Tarte Tatin.

From top left clockwise: Raspberry Lychee Religieuse, Cassis Montblanc, Tahitian Vanilla Caramelised Pecan Eclair.

From top left clockwise: Vanilla Panna Cotta, Passionfruit Vanilla Macaroon, Caramel Chocolate.

Sauces for scones and waffles (not in picture), Croquembouche, assorted macaroons.

Asian desserts and assorted fruits.

Vanilla Gelato, Raspberry Sorbet.

This is where I feel that Regent Tea Lounge’s Weekend High Tea Buffet is worth your every penny. Just the cakes alone is enough to impress. And true to my expectations, the cakes were multilayered, just like those designer cakes you eat outside.

The bill came up to be about $150 for two pax. I know, with this amount you can eat a full fledge dinner buffet at a proper restaurant, but just consider the amount of effort required to make the dishes, and the exquisiteness of it. I don’t think you can get such food creativity in a single place elsewhere in Singapore. At least I can’t.

Tea Lounge, Regent Hotel Lobby

1 Cuscaden Road, 249715

Weekends: 12pm to 230pm, 3pm to 530pm

+65 6725 3246

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Song Fish Tiger Prawns

Just a quick post about Song Fish’s frozen Tiger Prawns since I’ve been using them for my CNY dishes this year.

Not good.

I have a big family, and they are all prawn eaters. Naturally, I would want to serve them big, fresh, tiger prawns for my CNY meals (mee sua, steamboat).

The prawns were huge, no doubt. It’s a conversation starter, no doubt. But the skepticism started when someone peeled the prawns. Finally, it’s confirmed when someone took the first bite.

Not fresh.

Fresh prawns should be crunchy and juicy. Song Fish’s prawns were powdery and lacking in the sweet prawn juice.

My choice next year? Back to basics – Chinatown tiger prawns. To avoid the crowd, I’m going to buy them two to three weeks in advanced and freeze them.

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5D4N Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Resort, Maldives

Maldives – the highly sought after tropical country with crystal clear blue waters and soft white sand. While I’ve always wanted to visit this place, I have remained undecided about which island to choose from (because to be honest, the price tag ain’t cheap)…

Until I had my wedding at Regent Hotel Singapore.

Signing up with Regent Hotel Singapore allowed me to book their Four Seasons Maldives resort at a package rate. So after my wedding I packed my bags, brought my husband along, and headed to Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Maldives for 5D4N.

The Flight There

I took Scoot because it was the cheapest option but the timings were bad (the kind where you reach Maldives at 9pm Maldivian time) so I touched down a day earlier and stayed at Hulhumale for a night. Any inn along the beach would do; you are there only for the night. For details on how to get from Velana International Airport to Hulhumale, you may refer to this site written by a fellow Singaporean.

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa can only fix the speedboat schedule a day before your check-in. For me, because I arrived a day earlier but stayed on the mainland, Kuda Huraa very kindly informed me of the speedboat departure timing via the inn I was staying at.

Getting to Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

At Velana International Airport, you’ll see a lot of booths which can be confusing.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Four Seasons’ huge lounge where you can help yourself to biscuits and beverages. Talk about the start of luxury.

The speedboat itself takes about 30 minutes and while it is really pricy per pax for a two way trip (USD$250 before taxes), the interior of the boat was pretty comfy.

Checking in

Upon arrival there’ll be a few staff singing a welcome song and before you know it, check in is done and you’re ready to see your room!

I stayed at the Beach Pavillion with Pool. It’s the least expensive out of all the other bungalow options, but I was lucky to be housed near the activity and food area.

Entrance to your pavillion.

Private pool with Pavillion (unicorn’s mine!)

Every bungalow leads to the beach. This means that there are two entrances to your bungalow, and one of it is open to anyone who wants to walk in. Not a cause to be concerned though, I felt very safe in my 5 days here.

Short 30 seconds walk to the beautiful beach facing the sunset.

Activities

There are many activities available at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. Take the opportunity to do complimentary non-motorised water sports such as stand-up paddling or snorkel at the snorkel trail at your own time. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for their motorised water sports such as wakeboarding, dive at one of their many curated sites, or go on a snorkeling adventure for a fee.

Kuda Huraa offers guided snorkeling experiences such as Kuda Huraa House Reef or Turtle Adventure Snorkel (USD$25 and USD$75 before taxes respectively).

Feel free to snorkel on the sunrise side of the island.

Love the open waters but diving and snorkeling are not your favourites? Join Kuda Huraa’s cruises to get a chance to see wild dolphins putting on their best spinner shows.

Managed to catch some dolphins on camera!

If doing activities is not your thing, you can visit the various swimming pools on the island, head to the gym, or chill in your own villa pool.

Serenity Pool is an adults only pool. It is located at the Reef Club.

The gym is fully equipped and a personal trainer is available if you need one.

The resort also has a separate spa island which you’ll have to take a quick boat ride to get there. I didn’t do their spa but I’ve been advised to book my preferred treatments before my trip.

For the period I was there, I estimated the occupancy rate to be an average of 180 pax. Curiously however, I hardly saw anyone during the activities or using their facilities. It’s almost as if you were the only one on the island.

Restaurants

Kuda Huraa has four main restaurants for dining – Cafe Huraa, Reef Club, Kandu Grill and Baraabaru.

Cafe Huraa is your main restautant to go to. It’s where you’ll go to have your buffet breakfast in the mornings. The breakfast spread here is awesome!

Entrance of Cafe Huraa.

Reef Club serves Italian food. I’m not a fan of Italian food but their food and plating were very well done. Plus the view is to melt for.

Entrance of Reef Club.

Dining by the sea at Reef Club.

Kandu Grill, as the name suggests, is a place for your grilled seafood and meats. It’s only open for dinner. We tried the Mixed Seafood Grill and were surprised that we were full from the platter fairly quickly.

Kandu Grill. The entrance to this place is via Cafe Huraa.

By recommendation, I also tried the Indian food at Baraabaru. I ate their Reef Fish Briyani and Murgh Makhani, which tastes like butter chicken. This dish was super nice.

Entrance to Baraabaru.

Service

I really appreciate the meticulousness of the staff at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. Their attention to detail is amazing. For example, they noticed that I dried my wet clothes by the bathtub and thoughtfully placed towels underneath the clothes to help dry it faster. On another occasion, my husband’s clothes were flipped inside out and placed messily on the bed. When we returned from breakfast, they had flipped it back and folded it nicely as part of their housekeeping!

Talking about housekeeping, this resort does housekeeping twice daily, once during breakfast hours, and once in the evening. It’s really very comfortable to come back to a clean and neat place.

Tips

Some tips for you:

  • It is important to make reservations for dinner as the restaurants can get quite packed during dinner time and you would want the best seats (such as those by the seaside).
  • You might want to ask if the food you’re ordering is too much for your party. We didn’t know the portion size and ended up wasting a lot of food for some of our meals. 😦
  • Some activities such as the Turtle Snorkel Adventure and Dolphin Cruise have limited seats, so do make your reservations a day at least in advanced.
  • Bring seasick pills along just in case. The boat ride out to certain sites for snorkeling may take up to 45 minutes across choppy waters.
  • The resort provides beach bag, bikini cover-ups, and after-sun gel. Sunblock is available throughout the island for that must needed replenish when you’re out playing.

I love Four Seasons Kuda Huraa for its excellent service and intimate island experience. Although the whole island is rather small (you can easily walk from one end to another in 10 minutes), most of the activities and facilities are empty as majority of the guests prefer to stay in their bungalows. I constantly wondered if there was some activity unknown to me that everyone else was at.

I told my husband we would come back here for our 10th anniversary. Let’s see what happens then. For now, sun out!

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Yakinikutei Ao-Chan

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Happen to be in town and craving for better than average yakiniku (grilled meat)? Head to Concorde Hotel where Yakinikutei Ao-Chan is located on the second floor.

The layout is such that it’s rows of cushioned booths, with one row not more than 4-5 booths on one side. There’s a high wall next to each booth so it feels like you’re in your own space because the adjacent table (across the isle) is quite a distance apart.

If there’s only two of you and it’s your first time here I’d suggest getting the Prime Beef Course to share as it has a mini sampler of 3 different beef cuts, ox tripe, ox liver and ox tongue, together with a bowl of plum rice, ox tail soup, and a scoop of ice cream. Do not like tripe and liver? You may exchange it for pork or chicken.

Prime Beef Course, $45.80.

By sharing one meal between two people, you can order other items on the menu or seasonal items such as the A5 Hokkaido Snow Beef.

Toro Karubi, $42.

Oh my oh my. These things melt in your mouth! It’s so sinful cos of the extensive marbling of the beef but so worth every calorie. Apparently this is the Hokkaido Snow Beef where the meat is said to melt in your mouth like snow flakes.

Oh, they offer free flow tea and water (both of which are not on the menu).

Menu below:

I like Yakinikutei Ao-Chan because the their atmosphere is great and the quality of their meats are great. Price wise I think it’s justified, though I’ll only visit this place again if there’s a special occasion.

Concorde Hotel, #02-22/26, 100 Orchard Road, S(238840)

Mondays to Fridays: 12pm to 230pm, 6pm to 11pm

Saturdays and Sundays: 3pm to 1030pm

+65 6735 6457

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