Author Archives: Stephanie

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review – Orchard Central

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central

Ootoya is where you can find traditional Japanese food and it is the restaurant of choice for Japanese expats living here that want a taste of their mother’s home-cooked food. With branches around the world, there are currently three in Singapore, all serving wholesome and nutritionally balanced meals.

I was invited the other day to Ootoya’s branch in Orchard Central to try some of their recommended dishes, courtesy of JPassport. I had their Katsutoji (Crispy Breaded Yongenton Silky Pork Loin Cutlet in Steamy Hot Pot) Set, Pork Belly Shiokoji (Grilled Yongenton Silky Pork Belly Marinated with Shio Koji), Seiro Soba and Maccha Parfait to finish.

The food came out very quickly, first with the Seiro Soba. The soba noodles in Ootoya are handmade daily using buckwheat flour imported from Hokkaido and this particular soba dish was served cold with a dipping sauce in which spring onions and wasabi can be added to it according to taste. The soba was deliciously chewy and the portion was big enough to be a meal in itself.

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Seiro Soba

Next came the Pork Belly Shiokoji which uses Yongenton Silky Pork (a type of American pork that is popular in Japan) that is marinated in shio koji which is a salt and mouldy rice (yes mould!) seasoning that Ootoya makes using a traditional recipe from over 300 years ago. The pork belly in this dish was grilled to perfection and was extremely tender and lightly seasoned with the shio koji just enough to bring out the flavour of the pork. It came with a small salad and some Japanese potato salad.

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Grilled Yongenton Silky Pork Belly Marinated with Shio-Kouji

The Katsutoji set which came with steamed rice, miso soup and pickles was my favourite dish out of everything I tried. Katsutoji is deep fried breaded pork with egg in a sweet soy sauce and dashi broth. If you’ve ever had Katsudon, Katsutoji is basically the same except the broth with the pork and egg come in a separate bowl from the rice. The Katsutoji was served in a hot stone bowl in which the bubbling hot broth was cooking the egg when it was served. The breaded pork loin in which Yongenton Silky Pork is also used was still crunchy although half submerged in the broth and the meat was tender and juicy. I really enjoyed the broth too as it was sweet enough for my liking and went perfectly with the egg and pork.

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Crispy Breaded Yongenton Silky Pork Loin Cutlet in Steamy Hot Pot

Finally the Maccha Parfait dessert was a great ending to a nostalgic meal of my time living in Tokyo. It had pieces of sponge cake, red beans, matcha ice cream, matcha jelly, matcha pudding and warabi mochi dipped in matcha powder in it – that’s a whole lot of matcha! The matcha ice cream had a lovely strong bitter matcha flavour as did the pudding and jelly and the not too sweet red beans complemented it all well.

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Maccha Parfait

Ootoya have a huge menu consisting of meat, fish and vegetable dishes, noodles, donburi, sashimi and desserts which I would like to go back to try more of. Indeed it is a popular restaurant with Japanese expats as there were many dining in Ootoya whilst I was there. The branch in Orchard Central has counter seats near the kitchen which is great for solo dining as well as a cosy section of booth tables at the back of the restaurant. Reservations are probably necessary if you’re going during lunchtime or for dinner as the place fills up fast! Currently until the 31st January 2019, if you’re a member of JPassport you can get a free Pumpkin Parfait which is Ootoya’s current seasonal dessert when you dine at any branch in Singapore. Just show them the coupon on this page!

 

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Interior.jpg

Ootoya Japanese Restaurant Review Orchard Central Booth Tables

Ootoya (Orchard Central branch)
Address: 181 Orchard Road, #08-012 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
Tel: 6884 8901
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm

Hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Ootoya, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review of the restaurant or if you have any questions!

Unusual Vending Machines In Singapore And Where To Find Them!

My love of vending machines started around 10 years ago when I was living in Tokyo. Just arriving in Narita airport you’ll find vending machines for ice cream, beer and SIM cards. Did you know that Japan has the highest number of vending machines worldwide and that there is around one vending machine for every 23 people! They have vending machines for everything including cup noodles, flowers, umbrellas, toilet paper and much more!

Ever since I moved to Singapore in 2011 I’ve been on the lookout for cool vending machines and have surprisingly found quite a lot of different ones! So I’ll be sharing details of them here and updating this post as I find more in case you’re intrigued to check them out yourself 🙂

My First Vending Machine

My First Vending Machine Baby Snacks

This vending machine on the 4th floor of Century Square mall in Tampines has every snack that a baby could possibly want including cookies, vegetable/fruit puree and cereal puffs! So handy for mums and very affordable too, they should have more of these vending machines around!

Pet Lovers Centre Vending Machine

Pet Lovers Centre Vending Machine Dog Cat Food

You can quickly pick up pet food for your furry little friend from this Pet Lovers Centre vending machine in the basement 1 floor of Star Vista shopping mall in Buona Vista.

Gardenia Bread Vending Machine

Gardenia Bread Vending Machine

If you’re lucky to be a resident of De Royale in Toa Payoh, then you won’t have to traipse all the way to the nearest supermarket or bakery if you find that you’ve run out of bread as there’s a Gardenia vending machine on the ground floor of the condominium with a variety of different types of bread!

Fragrance Bak Kwa and Salted Egg Snacks Vending Machine

Fragrance Bak Kwa and Salted Egg Snacks Vending Machine

Craving salted egg fish skin? Now you can get your fix at all times of the day from this vending machine just along the Sentosa Boardwalk that joins Vivocity shopping centre to Sentosa. This vending machine also has bak kwa and salted egg potato sticks and chips, all from the Singaporean brand Fragrance.

Farm Grocer Healthy Australian Snacks Vending Machine

Farm Grocer Healthy Australian Snacks Vending Machine

Another great vending machine along the Sentosa Boardwalk is this Farm Grocer vending machine that stocks healthy snacks all made in Australia including macadamia nuts in different flavours, dried fruit and much more!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post and please leave a comment below if you’d like to share details of unusual vending machines that you’ve found in Singapore too! 

Eat At Taipei Restaurant Review – Tampines Mall

Eat At Taipei Restaurant Review Tampines Mall

My first ever visit to Tampines…just to explore a different area in Singapore…and we ended up in this casual and very quiet Taiwanese eatery in Tampines Mall which supposedly specialises in Taiwanese street food. What a disaster that was! I have to say that the service was very good but the food was another story. They have a lunch special for $10.90++ where you can select either a Chicken Chop Baked Rice, Taiwan Sausage Baked Rice, Braised Pork Knuckle Rice, Sambal Seafood Fried Rice or Braised Pork Belly and Preserved Vegetables Rice as well as either a Pearl Milk Tea or Soya Milk. Hubby went for the only item on the menu that was not at all Taiwanese – the Sambal Seafood Fried Rice and got a Pearl Milk Tea and I ordered from the a la carte menu and got a Hualian Spring Onion Pancake with a Taiwanese Sausage ($6.90++) since my first choice, the Shilin Royal Cheese Loaded Potato with Taiwanese Sausage, was not available.

Eat At Taipei Restaurant Review Tampines Mall Interior

Food came out quickly, first the Sambal Seafood Fried Rice followed by the Hualian Spring Onion Pancake with a Taiwanese Sausage. Although not a Taiwanese dish, the Sambal Seafood Fried Rice was not the worst choice. It was quite tasty and pretty spicy with a couple of prawns and calamari, however it’s not a dish I would ever choose to eat. The Hualian Spring Onion Pancake with a Taiwanese Sausage was awful. It was definitely not a Hualian Spring Onion Pancake but instead it was a spring onion roti prata, most likely a frozen one that you can get a pack of 5 for $2 in the supermarket. It had a sweet Taiwanese sausage on top with some shredded lettuce and was loaded with a ton of ketchup and mayonnaise which completely ruined the entire dish.

Sambal Seafood Fried Rice

Hualian Spring Onion Pancake with a Taiwanese Sausage

The meal’s only saving grace was the Pearl Milk Tea which although was nothing compared to Gong Cha or Koi, was a lot better than I had anticipated. It was not too sweet and had lots of tapioca pearls although the tea itself was not that strong.

Eat At Taipei Restaurant Review Tampines Mall Pearl Milk Tea

All in all I would not go back to this restaurant again as what I had really put me off. The food was not even authentic and was a far cry from the street food that you would find in Shilin Night Market in Taipei. Even with a 50% discount on Eatigo (which I unfortunately only realised after I had dined there), the food is still not worth spending your money on.

Eat At Taipei (Tampines branch)
Address: 4 Tampines Central 5, #B1-02, Singapore 529510
Tel: 6789 6166
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am to 10pm

Hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Eat At Taipei, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review of the restaurant or if you have any questions!

Hokkaido Marche’s Maruki & Ajisai Noodles Review – Orchard Central

Hokkaido is the place to go in Japan if you want delicious fresh seafood, quality beef and some of the nation’s best produce. I’ve had many a good Kaisen-don and Miso Ramen during my travels there and there’s also an abundance of other local specialties including soup curry, nabe, potato snacks, ice cream, beer and cheesecake. But you don’t have to travel so far to satisfy your craving for Hokkaido food as Singapore has it’s own Hokkaido food hall located in the basement of Orchard Central shopping mall, namely Hokkaido Marche. With stalls serving ramen, soba, yakitori, curry, sashimi bowls and much more as well as a sushi restaurant, there’s plenty to choose from and all at very affordable prices.

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Front

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Review

Courtesy of JPassport, I went there last week to try the ramen from Hokkaido Marche’s Ajisai Noodles stall and the soba from the Maruki stall.

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Ajisai Noodles

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Maruki

Ajisai Noodles is a ramen restaurant from Hakodate in south Hokkaido which has been established for over 80 years. Famous for their shio (salt) ramen, they also serve ramen in miso, shoyu (soy sauce) and seabura (pork back fat) broths as well as have sides and additional ramen toppings available on their menu.

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Ajisai Noodles Menu

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Ajisai Noodles Lunch Menu

I tried their signature Hakodate Ramen which is what they call their shio ramen and the broth is made from pork, chicken and naturally occurring rock salt from the base of kelp growing in south Hokkaido. The ramen was delicious, the clear broth was light yet flavourful and not too salty, the noodles were perfectly cooked and slightly chewy and topped with pieces of juicy, tender chashu (braised pork), half a soft boiled egg, bamboo shoots and spring onions. A very satisfying but not too heavy bowl of noodles!

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Ajisai Noodles Hakodate Ramen

The soba I had at Maruki was also very good. I had the Iberico Soba and chose a prawn tempura and pumpkin tempura on the side. The handmade soba noodles were cooked al-dente and were very gratifying in the hot, umami-rich dashi broth that was a little stronger with the katsuobushi (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna) flavour than most. Topped with a generous amount of tender Iberico pork and nori strips, it was a healthy and authentic bowl of soba. Of course you would expect a great bowl of soba from them considering Maruki have more than 130 years of experience making soba!

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Maruki Iberico Pork Shabu Hot Soba Soup Noodles And Prawn And Pumpkin Tempura

The tempura prawn and pumpkin were cooked to perfection. The batter was very light, crunchy and not too oily, absolutely yummy dipped in the soba broth. Maruki have many different types of freshly made tempura that you can choose from including crab stick, soft boiled egg, sweet potato, aubergine, courgette, lotus root, asparagus, pumpkin, prawn and kakiage as well as crab cream croquettes.

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Maruki Tempura And Croquette Selection

Their menu includes a variety of hot and cold soba dishes as well as rice dishes and sets. If you’re not keen on soba you can always opt for udon!

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central Maruki Menu

Hokkaido Marche is a place where you can go to try a range of Hokkaido’s cuisine all under one roof and with the convenience of a food court setting. It’s great for a quick lunch or casual meal with friends and from what I’ve tried, I would highly recommend going there for authentic and tasty Hokkaido food. Members of JPassport can try signature dishes from the stalls in Hokkaido Marche for just $10 on Mondays to Thursdays! For more information, check out the JPassport Hokkaido Marche page.

Hokkaido Marche Orchard Central JPassport Hokkaido Marche Ten Dollar Signature Meal Promotion Mondays To Thursdays

Hokkaido Marche
Address: Orchard Central B2 Unit 11 – 29, 44 – 48, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896
Tel: 6509 9383
Opening Hours: Daily 11am – 11pm (last order 10pm)

Hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Hokkaido Marche, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review or if you have any questions!

Empress Restaurant Review – Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore

Empress Restaurant Asian Civilisations Museum Entrance Singapore
If you’re passing by the Asian Civilisations Museum just next to the Singapore River, you’ll be sure to notice this elegantly decorated contemporary Chinese restaurant that is the Empress. Serving executive set lunches on weekdays and all-you-can-eat dim sum brunches on weekends, the restaurant is also popular with the work crowd on weekday nights for unwinding with cocktails and snacks at the bar or it’s the perfect place for leisurely dinners on any day of the week.

Empress Restaurant Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Bar

Empress Restaurant Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Interior

Their a la carte menu features a selection of dim sum, appetisers, soups, seafood, meat, tofu, vegetable, rice and noodle dishes, desserts and also a good amount of vegetarian options too. On my visit there last week, the restaurant was fairly busy, mostly with executives having business lunches, but the restaurant is spacious with plenty of room for each table so you can have a relaxed and quiet meal. We decided to order a la carte rather than get the set lunch which I think was a better option for us as it allowed us to have more variety since choice for the set lunch is limited and it turned out to be better value too.

Empress Restaurant Interior Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore

For the three of us, we ordered two Empress Dim Sum Platters ($9.80++ each), Seaweed & Pork Floss Prawn Croutons ($6.80++), Triple Roast Platter ($28++), King Prawns ($28++) and a bowl of steamed white rice ($3++). The food came out very quickly and all at once, carefully laid out on the table by the waitress.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Food

The Empress Dim Sum Platter had one Har Gau (prawn dumpling), a Siu Mai (pork and shrimp dumpling), a Seafood & Spinach Dumpling, a Steamed Shanghai Soup Dumpling and a Mushroom and Corn Dumpling. All the dumplings were fresh and delicious, perfectly seasoned with delicate skins and plenty of filling. I especially liked the Mushroom and Corn Dumpling.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Empress Dim Sum Platter

The Seaweed & Pork Floss Prawn Croutons were not really what I expected them to be, I thought they would be a bit like Chinese prawn toasts but nonetheless they were very tasty. They were a bit like deep fried prawn cakes coated in pork floss to give extra flavour and sweetness to the dish and they were served with a mango and sesame mayonnaise which had a very mild flavour, despite which there was not very much of it.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Seaweed & Pork Floss Prawn Croutons

The Triple Roast Platter had a selection of roast meats including Empress Char Siew, Crackling Roast Pork and Empress Sticky & Sweet Pork Ribs. The Crackling Roast Pork was tender and juicy with crunchy crackling on top. The Empress Sticky & Sweet Pork Ribs were also a winner, the meat was incredibly tender and melt-in-the-mouth although there was a lot of fat. The Char Siew on the other hand was disappointing. The meat itself was tasty but you can probably see from the photo that it was completely burnt on top and this part was unfortunately inedible. The dish came with some pickled radish which was sweet and spicy and perfectly complemented the meat.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Triple Roast Platter

The King Prawns were done two ways. One deep fried and coated in salted egg yolk which was my favourite and the other was like the other prawn croutons that we had but was served with avocado mayonnaise and not pork floss.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore King Prawns

Prawn crackers and yam crisps were given on the table with our meal too.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Empress Prawn Crackers

To finish the meal we had a Red Date & Nut Baklava ($12++) to share. It was unfortunately one of the worst baklava I’ve had. The baklava was hard and chewy and the filo pastry layers were not crisp, delicate and buttery like they should have been. The honey and fig ice cream was quite nice, smooth and creamy but it tasted more like vanilla ice cream with mashed figs.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Red Date & Nut Baklava

As it was my birthday last month I was given a surprise Sticky Date & Longan Pudding which was definitely better than the baklava, a nice twist to the traditional British sticky toffee pudding with longan, goji berries and gula melaka butterscotch.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore Sticky Date & Longan Pudding

Service at Empress was extremely efficient and attentive as well as friendly. Although the food was a bit hit-and-miss I would like to go back for their dim sum brunch buffet since what we had of their dim sum was good and also maybe to chill out by the river with a couple of cocktails and bar bites as they also have seating outside.

Empress Restaurant Review Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore View Outdoor Seating

Empress
Address: #01-03 Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Tel: 6776 0777
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm, Saturday & Sunday: 11am – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm

Hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Empress, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review of the restaurant or if you have any questions!

Free $6 Worth Of GrabShuttle Plus Rides + 4 Extra Free Rides

Free $6 Worth Of GrabShuttle Plus Rides

GrabShuttle Plus is a new shared ride service that has recently been launched by the company behind Grab and GrabFood. With the same convenience and comfort as a taxi, but much more affordable, you can book your ride on-demand via the GrabShuttle Plus app or up to 3 days in advance. GrabShuttle Plus currently service the areas of Punggol, Sengkang, Serangoon, Hougang, Seletar, Bedok, Tampines, Pasir Ris and Changi.

They are currently giving new users $6 worth of free rides if you download the GrabShuttle Plus app and register using the referral code mb94q3pq.

GrabShuttle Plus Free Rides Referral Code

Also on top of that you can get 4 free rides by using the coupon code SHUTTLEPLUS when you book your rides.

GrabShuttle Plus Free Rides Coupon Code
So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of this great offer whilst it lasts!

Minon Amino Moist Free Sample

Minon Amino Moist Free Sample

Get a free sample of either Minon Amino Moist Charge Lotion I or Minon Amino Moist Charge Milk by simply filling in the form on the Minon Amino Moist website to request one! Your sample will be sent to you within 2 to 3 weeks. You can also get a free Minon Amino Moist Mask sample worth $4.70 if you write a review of the sample you requested on the Minon Facebook page @minonaminomoist.sg or on your Instagram and hashtag them #minonsg.

Wheeler’s Yard Cafe Review – Balestier Singapore

Wheeler's Yard Cafe Review Balestier Singapore

Housed in an industrial warehouse and hidden away in the residential part of Balestier, what looks to be a cycle shop, is actually Wheeler’s Yard. This spacious, bicycle themed cafe is a great place to chill out with friends over great food or spend a quiet afternoon reading with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Wheelers Yard Cafe Review Balestier Singapore Interior

The menu is varied, with a selection of brunch items, starters, mains and desserts as well as small plates and platters for sharing. There’s also a good selection of coffees, teas, home-made coolers, beers, wines and alcoholic shakes for those who drink. Many of the food items are Japanese such as the Mentaiko Pasta and Suki Beef Rice Bowl which I was very tempted to try when I was there, however I decided on the much raved about Chilli Crab Pasta ($17.90) which was originally a dish launched a couple of years ago specially for Singapore’s National Day and due to it’s popularity it was made a permanent item on the menu. I also ordered the Iced Chendol-Presso Ball ($9.50) which is a frozen espresso ball with pandan and gula melaka (palm sugar) and it’s served with warm milk.

Wheeler’s Yard is a self-service cafe so orders are placed and paid for at the till at the front and you’re given a buzzer so that you can collect your food and drinks when they’re ready.

Wheelers Yard Cafe Review Balestier Singapore Chilli Crab Pasta

Both my food and drink orders where ready within minutes. The Chilli Crab Pasta turned out to be a great choice, the spaghetti was al-dente, the chilli crab sauce was complex and flavourful dotted with curry leaves and it was nicely presented with a crunchy deep fried battered soft shell crab on top. Very tasty!

Iced Chendol-Presso Ball

The Iced Chendol-Presso Ball was also very good. Over the past couple of years I’ve become such a huge coffee lover and it was nice to have something a little different. For those of you who don’t know, Chendol is a Southeast Asian dessert that usually consists of shaved ice topped with coconut milk, gula melaka syrup and pandan jelly. The frozen espresso ball, when melted with the warm milk, was not too sweet, the coffee used had a delicious aroma which went well with the pandan and gula melaka flavour.

Wheeler’s Yard is definitely a cafe I will go back to. Both the food and coffee there are great and will definitely make you want to return. Staff are helpful and efficient and the cafe has a nice relaxed atmosphere. There are several tables available that can be reserved for four adults or more via Chope or if you prefer you can sit on the huge communal table in the centre of the cafe.

Wheeler’s Yard
Address: 28 Lor Ampas, Singapore 328781
Tel: 6254 9128
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 10pm, Saturday & Sunday: 10.30am – 10pm, Monday: Closed

Hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Wheeler’s Yard, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review of the cafe or if you have any questions!