Friday, March 28, 2014


One of the first weekend brunches we tried in Singapore was at The Knolls in the Capella hotel.  Located right beside the terraced pools of the hotel, The Knolls is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and brunch on Sundays.  

Brunch is a gastronomic affair with a large seafood buffet (fresh oysters, king prawns and scallops), mini-seafood and meat appetizers, an assortment of fresh bread and salads with fresh burrata on the buffet.  The Mediterranean-inspired hot dishes change every Sunday and include - freshly pizzas with shaved truffles, roasted suckling pig, seafood paella, grilled sausages and lamb or beef skewers, assorted grilled vegetables and a roast meat.  There is also an amazing three-tier cheese cart served by a cheese expert who guides you through the day's choices.  Desserts are plentiful as well with pastries, cakes and an ice cream cart all served in individual portions which gives one the chance to try several sweets instead of just one.  There is a free flow of mineral water and soft drinks included in the price and an option to have free flow of champagne and wines or just wines is also possible.  It's a great way to get away and spend a long, leisurely lunch by the pool with a view of the sea and with live music in the background.  Sundays in Sentosa at the Capella brunch is like a mini-holiday from the hustle and bustle of Orchard road.
The Knolls
Capella Singapore
1 The Knolls, Sentosa
098297 Singapore
Telephone: +65 6591 5046
*Open daily for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. 
*Brunch on Sundays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
(Brunch includes soft drinks, mineral water, coffee and tea) 
$168++ per Adult with free flow Champagne and wines
$148++ per adult with free flow of wines
$128++ per adult for food only
$78++ per child (7-12 years old)
$48++ per child (4-6 years old)

Thursday, March 06, 2014


One of the first restaurants we tried when we arrived in Singapore was Burnt Ends - a relatively new addition to the Singapore restaurant scene headed by the young Australian chef Dave Pynt.  Here, it's all about the barbequing with everything on the menu from the starters to the desserts cooked either on the wood-fire grill or inside the custom-built wood-fired ovens that take up most of the narrow room.  Seating is on a long low counter facing the open kitchens or on the bar counter lining the wall.  There is also a chef's table for six to eight diners towards the far end which can be reserved with a set menu. Since they only take reservations for the first seating at 6:30 which was way too early for us to eat, we met up with our friend M at around 8 and waited it out with a couple of glasses of wine at one of the bar counters.  It was a full house that evening so when we finally sat down to eat around an hour later, we were ravenous and had already checked out that day's menu (which changes daily depending on what the chef has available).

On that evening, the menu listed four little bites, about half a dozen appetizers, two fish (both of which were finished by the time we sat down) and five meat dishes.  We started out with the smoked quail eggs.  The smoked quail eggs were soft-boiled and served as is -  a bite of salty, smoky with the yolk oozing out.  Next up was the  the signature Burnt Ends' Sanger (pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, Chipotle aioli on a brioche bun) - an overstuffed sandwich of tender pulled pork on a soft bun.  This was followed by the bone marrow and pickled walnut served with toasted country bread - a mouthful of delectable melt-in-your-mouth hot bone marrow on crispy bread.

Next up was the main course but since everything is cooked to order on either the grill or the oven, it was going to take awhile before we got served.  While waiting, we decided to order one of the other small plates - fennel with orange and Burrata - which was lightly grilled just to color the edges and served lukewarm with the super creamy fresh mozzarella, an interesting mix of the anise-flavoured vegetable with the soft cheese.  Finally, our main course was served - the flank steak, grilled medium rare and served with a side of crisp butter head lettuce with just a touch of shallot vinaigrette and it was worth the wait.  The meat was charred on the outside, yet tender and rare on the inside and the small salad was a refreshing side dish to the steak.

Last but not least was the pineapple rum and vanilla dessert, the fruit grilled till caramelized then topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream - hot and cold at the same time.  To finish off, the chef offered each of us roasted marshmallow on a  skewer - a playfully sticky end to our delicious dinner.
Burnt Ends
20 Teck Lim Road
Singapore 088391
Telephone: +65 6224 3933
*Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday, Closed Sunday and Monday
*Bookings for dinner only for first seating at 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


What better way to make my first blog post on Singapore about the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014. Held at the Capella Singapore yesterday evening, the chef-studded event brought together food-lovers and restaurateurs from all over Asia to witness the announcement of this year's top 50 restaurants in Asia

  1. NAHM, Bangkok
  3. GAGGAN, Bangkok
  4. AMBER, Hong Kong (San Pellegrino BEST RESTAURANT IN CHINA)
  7. WAKU GHIN, Singapore
  8. ULTRAVIOLET by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
  9. LUNG KING HEEN, Hong Kong
  10. 8 1/2 OTTO E MEZZO BOMBANA, Hong Kong
  11. MR. AND MRS. BUND, Shanghai
  12. IGGY'S, Singapore
  13. CAPRICE, Hong Kong
  14. LES AMIS, Singapore
  15. BO INNOVATION, Bangkok
  16. ISHIKAWA, Tokyo
  17. JAAN, Singapore
  19. FOOK LAM MOON, Hong Kong (HIGHEST CLIMBER AWARD by Zacapa Rum from no.48 in 2013)
  20. JUNGSIK, Seoul (San Pellegrino BEST RESTAURANT IN KOREA, Highest New Entry Award, first time for Korea)
  21. SRA BUA BY KIIN KIIN, Bangkok
  23. TIPPLING CLUB, Singapore (new entry)
  24. LE MOUT, Taishung (Veuve Clicquot's ASIA'S BEST FEMALE CHEF, San Pellegrino BEST RESTAURANT IN TAIWAN, new entry, first time for Taiwan)
  25. L'EFFERVESCENCE, Tokyo (new entry)
  26. FU1015, Shanghai
  27. BUKHARA, New Delhi
  28. BO.LAN, Bangkok
  29. INDIAN ACCENT, New Delhi
  30. DUM PUKHT, New Delhi
  32. VARQ, New Delhi
  33. 28 HUBIN ROAD, Hangzhou
  34. TAKAZAWA, Tokyo
  35. SHINJI BY KANEZAKA, Singapore
  36. WASABI, Mumbai
  37. EAT ME, Bangkok
  38. SUKIYABASHI JIRO, Tokyo (new entry)
  41. SAWADA, Tokyo (new entry)
  42. HAJIME, Osaka
  43. SUSHI SAITO, Tokyo
  45. YARDBIRD, Hong Kong
  48. FRANCK BISTRO, Shanghai
  49. KARAVALLI, Bangalore
  50. TENKU RYUGIN, Hong Kong (ONE TO WATCH by Peroni Nastro Azzurro)

A special award was also given to Janice Wong of 2 am:dessert bar for ASIA'S BEST PASTRY CHEF giving Singapore a total of eight entries, making it the third highest in this year's list. China topped the list with 16 entries followed by Japan with 10.

The chefs from Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014
(photo courtesy of Asia's Best Restaurants website)

Spnsors San Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Veuve Clicquot and Chocolat Barry

Canapes and after-party food courtesy of the Capella Singapore

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Closed door restaurants have cropped up in major cities over the recent years and Buenos Aires is one of those places where several of them can be found.  A few years back, we went to Casa Saltshaker, American Dan Perlman's puerta cerrada (which means closed door and is what Portenos call these private dinner places).  Since then, I heard about another one from fellow blogger and friend George from My Hotel Life wrote a rave review of it here. (Have a look at his super photo of the same sisig I ordered after reading his article).  Even before we arrived in Buenos Aires, I had already booked a table for six for a Thursday evening knowing that after several days of amazing Argentine cuisine (grilled meat, empanadas, pastas, dulce de leche and more grilled meat), we would all be needing an Asian fix.

Cocina Sunae is the brainchild of Korean-American Sunae who decided to create a space to showcase the cuisine of her childhood in the Philippines and the rest of south east Asia.  Why in Buenos Aires?  Because she fell in the love and married an Argentinean (as one does) and decided to start a family in Buenos Aires. 

As this is a puerta cerrada, we were only given the address and that weeks' featured menu (two starters, two main courses and a dessert) after we had confirmed our booking a few days before.  We got a bit lost looking for the lace and ended up ringing the bell of a dark entryway on the same street until we realized we had the wrong house number.  Finally, we found the gate which also serves as their home with the restaurant on the ground floor and their living area upstairs.   The place was packed and unlike a typical puerta cerrada where the diners usually sit together in one large table, this felt like a proper restaurant with about ten tables seating around 24.

The menu that week was a choice between a Thai green mango and prawn salad or a Thai tom yum soup followed by either the (infamous) Philippine sisig or a Thai Khao Soi and a dessert of chocolate ganache and green tea ice cream.  

The green mango salad was sour and salty from the fish-sauce based dressing and the other starter of  clear prawn-flavored soup was pleasantly spicy.  My son and I had the sisig - chopped marinated pig cheeks sautéed in onions and chili till crunchy and traditionally served with a sunny side up egg on top. (Sisig is one of my favorites and something I hadn't eaten in years as it's almost impossible to find abroad, although I luckily had sisig twice in 2013 first at Pig and Khao in New York and then at Cocina Sunae) while A and my in-laws had the yellow curry of chicken with crispy egg noodles which was sinus-clearingly spicy.  Dessert was a refreshing mix of sweet oranges, bitter chocolate and cold green tea ice cream served with a ginger flavored butter cookie.  What a find Cocina Sunae was!  It's going straight onto my Buenos Aires favorites list.
Cocina Sunae
Colegiales, Buenos Aires
(Closed door restaurant, please email for exact address)
*Dinner at 8 p.m.  from Wednesday to Saturday only

Monday, February 10, 2014


When we are in Buenos Aires, my sister-in-law S who knows I love to eat, always organizes a lunch. Once, it was at the hip little Bar 6 in Palermo Viejo which has since been one of our favorites.  Another time, our visit coincided with her birthday, and she hosted a fun Mexican themed party at her lovely home.  On this trip, she and her daughter C, took me to Tarquino, located in the quiet boutique hotel Hub Porteno in the chic Recoleta area.  The restaurant is hidden off to the side where we walk through a dark and cozy bar towards the light-filled glassed-in courtyard where a large tree is surrounded by tall furry mushrooms that look like mini truffala trees from the movie "The Lorax".  This whimsical decor is echoed in the multi-colored tassels hanging over the tables and the mobiles of colorful birds hanging up near the ceiling.  Here, the young up-and-coming chef Dante Liporace has come up with a creative menu showcasing the mostly meat-centric cuisine of Argentina.  Since their menu changes with the seasons, what we ate that day may no longer be on their current menu.

Lunch was very quiet, we were the only ones there so it was a good thing they had a very reasonable three course set lunch (wine and mineral water included) which gave us a chance to sample the menu.  As soon as we ordered, a silver tray was laid on the table with an assortment of sea salt along with a plate of warm homemade breads - baguette and olive.  I had the soup - a creamy potato leek topped with crispy shoestring fries which was fine, followed by what was listed on the menu as Fish from the River - calamari pasta with squid ink which was delicious.  Portions are quite generous so I dent quite finish my main course to leave some space for dessert - a martini glass of caramelized foam, lemon reduction and milk ice cream which is the chef's take on the classic flan.  The food was good but I expected something much more modern from a chef who has trained in Spain in the kitchens of modern masters Pedro Subijana and Ferran Adria.  Perhaps, a second visit at night when the place has  a bit of buzz and noise would be good so I we can try some of those other dishes that most have been raving about.
Rodriguez Pena 1967
Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Telephone: +54 11 6091 2060
*Lunch Mondays to Fridays, Dinner Mondays to Saturdays

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Our last trip in 2013 before our move to Singapore was to Buenos Aires to visit family.  It was the tail end of winter in the Southern hemisphere and although the sun was shining on most days, it was still chilly so we lucked out on a nearby cafe which was two blocks away from where we were staying.  Le Pain Quotidien has been a favorite for years.  I remember spending so much time there in the late 90's when my stepsister was living in New York.  The Madison avenue branch was our local cafe and we whiled away hours with our bowls of cafe au lait reliving our Paris days.  Since then, Le Pain Quotidien has become a global brand recreating their bleached wood interiors with the standard communal table and their selection of amazing bread all over the world. 

We were pleasantly surprised with the Buenos Aires outpost - same bleached wood interiors, a large oval communal table, the usual open-faced tartines (sandwiches), the big bowls (not cups) of milky coffee, the daily blackboard menu and the same friendly service.  We had breakfast there almost every day and since it was located in the mostly residential neighborhood of Palermo chico, it was superb for people watching and hanging out.  As they say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Jerónimo Salguero 3075
Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentina
+54 11 2073-1866
*Open all-day daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
*Other branches in Palermo Viejo and Belgrano

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


In order to move on, I need to close our Dorado chapter and start our Singapore life so what better way to end than with my final Puerto Rico post on the dinners we had Mi Casa by Jose Andres.   The menu is divided into four parts - Tapas and Antojitos (starters of mostly tapas), To Follow (salads and soups) and Platos Fuertes (main courses) and Simply Prepared (mostly grilled fish or meat).  There is also an option to do Jose's Tapas Experience Menu, an 11-course small plates tasting menu which lets you experience the full flavors of his take on modern Caribbean cuisine.  Some of my favorite Puerto-rican style tapas (moms of which are shown above) were the Bocadillo de lechon (roasted pork belly with chayote mojo and crispy crackling on a soft bun),  ceviche de atun con coco y aguacate (tuna ceviche tossed in coconut milk and topped with fresh avocado and topped with crispy quinoa), cono de queso con lechoza (Canarejal cheese and papaya marmalade stuffed in a crispy mini cone) and the modern take on the Puerto Rican classic - the mallorca, a sweet brioche style powdered sugar coated bread filled usually with ham and cheese and grilled. This version is stuffed with foie gras and mango jam and is a must!  Jose's classic tapas like the croquets de pollo, served in an acrylic shoe as usual, are also present along with the not-to-be-missed jamon Iberico y pan con tomate.  From the main courses, I loved the Rossejat Negra - a Catalan squid ink noodle dish sort of like paella served with Spanish langoustines and the gnocchi de yuca (Yuca gnocchi with hearts of palm and a Puerto Rican style pesto).

Desserts were also a treat from the Tres Leches - a Puerto Rican classic rum and pineapple cake to the arroz con coco - a light Caribbean version of rice pudding flavored with coconut milk and served alongside a tart guava sorbet and finally the tierritas de Puerto Rico - grated chocolate with the texture of soil (tierra is the Spanish word for it) topping homemade cocoa and vanilla ice creams.

In case you though that Mi Casa was a formal fine dining restaurant, they also have a children''s menu filled with kid-friendly dishes (just don't expect nuggets) - there's a peanut butter and guava jelly sandwich on toasted mini-brioche buns,  chicken and béchamel croquettes, mini rib-eye hamburgers with french fries or a simple grilled fish served with yuca puree.  

Mi Casa by Jose Andres
at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
100 Dorado Beach Drive
Dorado PR 00646
Telephone: +1 787 278 7217
*Open daily for breakfast and dinner.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


It's been ages I know and although we moved to Singapore and left Dorado in mid-September, I still need to post about the wonderful breakfast at Mi Casa by Jose Andres at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.  Breakfast is one of my favorite ways to enjoy what a restaurant has to offer.  I figure that if they can't get breakfast right, then why would I even go for dinner.  One of the best ways to enjoy the mooring in Dorado is to sit outside on the terrace of Mi Casa, watch the waves crash to shore and have the first meal of the day al fresco.

As the restaurant specializes in Spanish influenced Caribbean cuisine, there are modern touches on Caribbean classics like homemade guava jelly, a banana and rum muffin, passion fruit or pineapple flavored yoghurt and even Jose Andres' arroz a la Cubana - fried rice served with crispy pork belly, plantains and a crispy battered poached egg.  You can also have classic croissants and pains au chocolat, the Spanish breakfast classic pan con tomato y jam on Iberico, waffles, pancakes and a frothy concoction that is the specialty Eggs Benedict.  Whatever you do, don't expect something new and done with a twist because that's what breakfast a la Jose Andres is going to be like and as you sip that Puerto Rican coffee and listen to the waves, remember that you are in Puerto Rico.

Mi Casa by Jose Andres
at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
100 Dorado Beach Drive
Dorado PR 00646
Telephone: +1 787 278 7217
*Open daily for breakfast and dinner. Reservations recommended.

Friday, October 18, 2013


No first-time visit to a city would be complete without a diner a deux so A& I always choose a place to go for one night to have a quiet meal together.  In DC, there were loads of restaurants to choose from but after checking with the city's magazine, The Washingtonian, and going through their Top Ten restaurants of 2013 list, we decided to go to Fiola (which was listed as #4).  We took a cab to the restaurant's address in Penn Quarter and were surprised to be dropped off at another famous city restaurant, The Capital Grille which is in the same block as Fiola (the entrance is actually on Indian avenue).  After a shortcut through a cobblestoned alley, we finally found Fiola.

Fiola is the creation of chef Fabio Trabocchi which has a daily changing lunch and dinner menu based on fresh ingredients of the season and served in a modern setting with bare wood tables offsetting the cream leather and the colorful artwork.  We had an early reservation and expected the restaurant to be quiet on a mid-week evening but it was actually full with mostly business types having dinner meetings.

The menu can be enjoyed as either a four or five-course meal with or without accompanying wines.  On that mid-summer evening, we chose to go a la carte and have something light.  I had the raviolo of corn and cherry tomatoes - perfect summer flavors with a light foam of butter and pea shoots while A had the vitello tonnato, traditionally cold sliced veal, but their version included a dollop of hand-chopped tuna tartar.  For our main courses, A had a pappardelle with morels in a light cream sauce which perfectly complemented the meaty mushrooms while I had a lightly grilled turbot with salsa verde and more of the sweet summer corn as a side dish.  Dessert was a shared plate of poached pears with frozen mascarpone cream and a praline for some crunch.  Dinner ended with espresso and some coffee flavored macaroons.  When we left the restaurant, the sun had gone down and the street lamps had just come on and we strolled up the street, enjoying the view of the lit-up Capitol and an evening out in this beautiful city.

601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
* Entrance at 678 Indiana Ave.
Telephone: 202 628 2888
*Open for lunch and dinner Mondays to Saturdays

Thursday, October 17, 2013


On our second day in Washington DC, we did a short tour with my friend Lyra who drove us around the Capitol and showed us the monuments on the Mall.  We started out at Arlington then to the Lincoln Memorial before heading off to brunch right by the IMF.

Brunch was at the packed Founding Farmers where despite our reservation,  we had to queue just to let the hostess know that we were already in the restaurant.  Luckily, it went quickly and were seated about 15 minutes after we arrived.  They took us to a table upstairs where there was more room for large groups.  After studying their extensive breakfast and brunch menu, we all decided to have their breakfast items.  The kids had pancakes and waffles while the adults all had eggs.  I had the traditional eggs Benedict with ham, Lyra had the crab Benedict and A had the Drag Through the Garden pan scramble which was scrambled egg whites with seasonal vegetables, spinach and white cheddar cheese.  We all had our egg dishes with crispy leek hash browns and shared a cast-iron skillet of warm corn bread with flavored whipped butter.  We had several French presses of their single origin custom blend from Intelligentsia coffee  as well as fresh juices which gave us the much needed energy boost for the second part of the tour.

After lunch, we headed off to Georgetown where we parked by the river and walked off our hearty brunch while admiring the quaint streets and beautiful homes in the area.  We also did some window shopping and ended our walking tour with an ice cream cone at Georgetown institution - Thomas Sweet.  It was a great first day in DC filled with sights, sounds and food.

1924 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
(IMF HQ2), Washington DC 20006
Phone: 202 822 TRUE (8783)
Fax 202 822 0949
*Open for breakfast Monday to Friday from 7 to 11 and Brunch on weekends and holidays from 9 to 2, Lunch and dinner daily.

3214 P Street NW
Washington, DC, 20007
Phone: 202 337 0616
*Open daily from 10 a.m. till late