CreatureS, the hipster restaurant at Desker Road

Address: 120 Desker Road

Opening Hours: Tue-Thu 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Fri-Sat 12.00 pm to 11.30 pm, Sun 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Closed on Mon

Introduction

CreatureS, a restaurant that is just opened 8 July 2015, is a restaurant situated at the most hipster location ever imagined – Desker Road. Desker Road had a little history of being the notorious red light district, but don’t worry, it’s pretty clean and safe nowadays.

From the menu, CreatureS’ dishes appear to be mainly western, but most of them has a local Singapore twist. Their Durian Cake is very reputable on social media and dishes like the 5-Spice Roast Pork and Crabmeat Croissant seem pretty interesting to try too.

This restaurant appears to be rather small from the outside, but it’s another haven upon stepping into it. The dining ambiance is set in a spa-like environment with a well-thought greenery placement at every corner of the restaurant with a lingering fragrance of essential oil. Seems like much thoughts had been put in to engage all our five senses at CreatureS and the relaxing dining environment is something that instantly appeals to me.

CreatureS Menu – Click to enlarge

Crabmeat Croissant ($26.00++)

Among the main courses, this is my favourite – Crab Meat Croissant. It’s actually more of a Crabmeat salad with Croissant though.  The portion of shredded crab meat is served cold in a Japanese Salad Dressing, Sasame Oil and Mayonaise with Coriander bits.

They are rather generous on the portion of the crab meat, however it comes at a price tag of $26.00++. The Croissant is served warm and crisp, baked in melted cheese, and the dish is complete by topping the dish with an egg benedict. As someone that likes coriander, i especially like the hint of coriander fragrance in the mix.

Ah Ma Chicken Ah Gong Noodle ($22.00++)

This dish has a rather interesting name, which suggested the dish to have a simple but homely taste. The noodle has a soft bouncy texture and the flavour comes from the simple shallot oil. It’s not exactly exciting when eaten by itself. As for the fried chicken, the portion is big, however I feel that it doesn’t justify it’s price tag of $22.

It tasted like a typical Taiwan chicken cutlet, crispy, juicy and satisfying, but my friend find that the portion is a little too big and cloying for his liking. It may be better to reduce the size of the cutlet, increase the portion of the noodle, and reduce the price tag by a little.

Zhu Burger ($23.00++)

Zhu actually means pig in mandarin so to put it simply,  this is a pork burger. It comes with a thick minced pork patty, a side salad and a good portion of fries. The salad dressing is too salty for my liking, although i pretty much like the taste of it.

The interesting part is they added Chinese Pickled Vegetable into the burger  patty and it reminded me of the steamed pork patty that we had at the mixed vegetable rice stall, but with a more sophisticated taste. The pork patty is well cooked, moist, however it is not exceptional and doesn’t leave an impression.

Durian Cake ($12.00++)

Although CreatureS has only started their operation a couple of months back, some on the social media had already branded this as the best Durian Cake in Singapore.  To be able to enjoy this highly sort after cake, it’s best to email them to make a reservation (for the cake) before making a trip down.

I can’t decide if this is the best Durian Cake in Singapore but i thought this cake is pretty well done up. Fresh Durian Meat is stacked between layers of lightly sweetened pandan sponge cake topped with a layer of luscious vanilla cream. This cake is not exactly a cake that is packed with nothing but chunks of Durian and Durian but more of a cake that is more balanced in term of cake and Durian ratio so do manage the expectation (although it appears otherwise on photo). If only the cake can be a little more moist.

Conclusion

The price of the dishes here is a little higher than average with their main courses offering from $22.00 to $32.00 before tax. Among the main courses that I tried, my vote goes to the Crab Croissant while the other two doesn’t impress as much. Some names of the dishes are actually more interesting than it taste but the Durian cake does leave an impression. Will i be back? Yes probably, to try out their five-spice roast pork and their Orh Nee Cake, which is unavailable during my visit. *sad*

Actually, the one thing that I like the most is in fact the dining ambiance, without the usual hustle and bustle of a busy and cramped cafe.  I enjoyed the dining ambiance than the food experience itself. My five cents worth of opinion – CreatureS has very good potential and stood out among the existing cafes, but maybe they just need to work on and tweak the menu a little bit to make it even better.

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The famed Wooloomooloo Steak House and their Weekend Brunch

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse and their Weekend Brunch

Address: 2 Stamford Road Level 3 Swissotel The Stamford

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12.00 pm to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.00 pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.00pm

Introduction

Wooloomooloo is a Hong Kong based, Australian-inspired steakhouse that is situated at level 3 of Raffles City. It has enjoyed quite a good reputation in Singapore and some even branded them as one of the best steakhouses since they opened their door for business in Singapore in Year 2012.

I visited during lunch time on a Saturday (for my birthday meal =D) and they are offering this weekend brunch menu which i find the pricing quite reasonable. At $68++, the diner can enjoy a 5-course lunch that includes a breakfast item, soup/salad, appetizer, a main course with a side, and a dessert.

Weekend Brunch Menu: Click to Enlarge

You can see their ala-carte menu from here 

Their pricing for a steakhouse is considered as mid-range, but they have Wagyu beef on their menu that cost $298.00++.

Egg Benedict & Fried Hen’s Egg (Breakfast dish)

The egg benedict is pretty decent, with a beautifully poached egg that comes with slices of lightly-smoked salmon and with a slice of muffin toasted to crisp. I particularly like their creamy hollandaise sauce.

The Fried Hen’s Egg is actually sunny side up and there’s nothing fancy about it but it’s a bit different for the stack of tomatoes cubes, avocado and crispy potato sticks. It has different layers of texture when eat together, such as the creamy (avacado), cripsy (potatoes) and juicy (tomatoes) and has a balanced taste of sweet, salty and sour. A very interesting dish.

Lobster Bisque & Classic Caesar Salad (Soup and Salad)

At first mouthful, it’s a little salty but it gets better with every mouthful. This dish don’t exactly has a creamy texture but the soup is very rich, and comes with a piece of Lobster pincer. I like the soup for having a pleasant but not overly strong seafood sweetness.

The Classic Caesar Salad is pretty much standard, except the part where there’s sliced Gruyère cheese. This cheese manages to add savouriness without overpowering the entire salad. No complain for the crispy bacon too. Ok, maybe the bacon’s a little too salty.

Wild Mushroom Risotto & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake (Appetizer)

In fact, both appetizers are among my favourites of the day. The wild mushroom risotto is quite well-portioned and the texture is something that i like very much – with a soft exterior and a moderately firm center. There’s also a robust mushroom taste and the already strong-tasting blue Stilton cheese completes this dish.

They are rather generous with the amount of crab meat used in this Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, although it’s not exactly Jumbo in size. The crab meat taste very sweet and fresh, with a little crisp on the exterior.

Beef Wellington and Tasmanian Salmon Fillet (Wooloomooloo Classic)

For those that watched Gordon Ramsay ‘s Hell Kitchen, the dish beef wellington will not be unfamiliar to you. It is a steak, coated with Pâté (Foie Gras for this case) and minced mixture of mushroom and baked in a layer of pastry. Comparing to a typical steak, in has an additional punch of fragrance from the mushrooms and savoury taste from the Foie Gras.

And of course , the steak is quite well done alone. Just look at the succulent texture!  This is my first time trying a beef wellington and i like Wooloomooloo’s pretty much. However, it’s not that I am against anything,  but I swear that the Pastry layer is made of instant roti prata that we got from the supermarket.  Interesting.

For the Tasmanian Salmon Fillet, the salmon is prepared in a Western style while the sauce has a Chinese soy sauce base. i like how the skin of the Salmon is pan fried to crisp but with zero burnt taste and the soft succulent salmon steak goes pretty good with the oriental taste.

Wooloomooloo Cheesecake and Bread and Butter Pudding (Dessert)

Both desserts are quite to my delight and both of them are not overly sweet. The cheesecake is not exactly a cake but more of a cheese cream topped on a layer of cookie base and also comes with a scoop of Yogurt Sorbet. The cheese layer is very light and balanced, which is not overly heavy after a 4-course meal.

As for the butter pudding, it didn’t have the expected egg custard taste so initially i was a little taken aback. However, the cream base made up is able to complement the butter pudding pretty well and the scoop of vanilla ice-cream made me forget about the egg custard. The portion of the pudding is just right to complete the 5-course meal.

Conclusion

Out of all the dishes that i had, the only one complain is that the side dish, Sauteed Mushroom, is too salty and i didn’t exactly finish it. As for the rest, they are all pretty good for my liking considering the price of $80 nett for a five course meal. The portion of the course are also bigger than expected and it’s definitely filling if one of the courses is a pasta.

During my visit on a Saturday afternoon, the place is rather quiet, without the usual hustle and bustle of a crowded restaurant. It has a very inviting ambiance, with a spacious dining area with ample natural light coming in from the full-height glass window.

I very much enjoyed my meal here and i do recommend this place if you are finding a place to celebrate a special occasion with your loved ones (in the afternoon).

 

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Address: 398 Piccadilly

Opening hour: Mon to Fri 6.00am to 4.00pm, Sat 6.00am to 12.00pm, Closed on Sun

Food stall only opens till lunch time

Introduction

An army friend brought me to this canteen in Seletar Camp during my reservist period. It does not has a proper name and signboard, and people known this place as Canteen 398. I was very captivated by it’s ambience and atmosphere so I decided to write about it.

Went back to Canteen 398 in the morning to capture it’s morning glory

At a glance, you won’t be able to guess that it’s actually a functioning canteen

This canteen consist of three stalls – the drink stall, and a stall selling mixed vegetable rice and the third selling Malay food. I was there nearing to their closing time at about 4pm and only the drink stall is open so i didn’t have a chance to try out the food.

History of Canteen 398

Canteen 398 is a piece of vanishing history of Singapore. This place is situated in the vicinity of an army camp, Seletar Camp, but is open to public and is accessible by car without subjecting to any security check.

The history of this building goes all the way back to our post world war two era when Singapore is still under the colonisation of Britain. This building was used by the British army as their Corporal Mess. This building was subsequently converted to a Canteen in Year 1969 and the structure and interior of the canteen has been retained till now.

The Canteen

The interior design of Canteen 398 brings you back in time to a typical coffee shop in the early 1990s when solid wooden top table and red stackable chairs are still widely used. The old school mosaic tiles flooring and the unpolished wall and ceiling look are widely mimicked by our cafes nowadays. While exposed cable trunking and dangling cable is a big taboo for interior design nowadays, Canteen 398 serves us a reminder that such minor details do not matter back in those simpler days.

Even at a warm afternoon at 4pm, i felt a sense of serenity while I was seeping my Teh-C at the outdoor stone table. Sitting at the “al-fresco” area under a hundred years old tree, and away from the city and crowd gives an entire different meaning to the term “chilling”. I don’t think such a place like Canteen 398 can be found at anywhere else in Singapore.

Conclusion

The progress of Singapore is scarily fast and there is almost nothing to identify our childhood with. Yes, we do preserve the old, but only if it makes any commercial sense. Like our Kampong Buangkok, the last kampong in Singapore, eventually still has to make way for future development.

Coming here to Canteen 398 gives me a sense of closeness to this place although it’s only my first visit. It offers a glimpse of Singapore’s humble past when things are not as perfect and not as comfortable as today. However during then, everyone learnt to enjoy life’s simple pleasure.

If you are there, do have a chat with the drink stall owner Mr Toh. He’s really a friendly chap and i love his enthusiasm in introducing the Canteen’s history to us.

Given the current cafe hopping culture in a clean, air-conditioned environment, i like to highlight that Canteen 398 is definitely not the place for everyone. There is no fancy food menu to rave about and also no squeaky clean environment to talk about. However the experience at Canteen 398 is one of a kind in Singapore. You either hate it or you love it, and it’s definitely the later for me.

PS: I hope I don’t sound like an old man. I have readers who thought that I am in my late 40s. *faint* 

Direction 1 (by public transport)

Take bus 103 at Serangoon interchange and alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 22 stops later.

Direction 2 (by public transport)

Take a train to Sengkang MRT and transfer to LRT and alight at Thanggam LRT. Take a short 5 minutes walk to Jalan Kayu shop house and board bus 103.  Alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 4 stops later.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar

Address: 150 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207563

Opening hours: Tue to Fri: 9.00am – 7:00pm, Sat & Sun: 9.00am – 10.00pm, Mon Closed

Introduction

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store, or simply CSHH, is currently one of the most hip cafes in Singapore that is very well known for their coffee. It is one of the three cafes owned by the Papa Palheta. Papa Palheta is a independent coffee boutique that specialise in roasting specialty coffee in Singapore and Malaysia. They also conduct Barista training course and coffee appreciation classes.

CSHH – The Interior

From the outside, CSHH looks like an old hardware store, but it’s totally another haven on the inside. It is divided into a few areas – the indoor and outdoor dining area, the roastery, the coffee tasting room and a small area that sells their own merchandise like their blend of coffee beans and equipments for hand-brewed coffee.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Outdoor Dining Area

Apart from the food, their drinks are mostly self-service. There is no restaurant treatment here as you need to look for your own seat and place your order and make payment at their counter.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Roastery

Large group seating is difficult to get in this crowded cafe as there is only one big table at the indoor area. Visit this cafe in smaller groups if you can.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Merchandise Area

Updated Menu as of Oct 2014. Click to enlarge.

Old Menu: Click to Enlarge

Caffe Latte 

CSHH serves their Caffè Latte in regular and small size that cost $4.00 and $5.50. The Barista at CSHH effortlessly pulled a latte art and it’s served to you right away. I thought their caffe latte is nice but dont really differs a lot from the rest. The more interesting coffee are in fact the hand pressed coffee with a different range of coffee beans to choose from.

Hand-Pressed Coffee

If you are sitting near to the counter, you can see their Barista in action and i was quite entertained by seeing how their Barista prepares a seemingly simple coffee that involves numerous sophisticated steps.

I can’t say which brew is better as coffee taste is very subjective. We ordered their Bright and Bold which one is more acidic while the other is fuller bodied but i love the deep, rich aroma roast of both cups.  It’s rather interesting to be able to try out different kinds of coffee beans rather than a typical espresso bean.

There are also a variety of muffins available for food pairing at their counter if you are not in the mood for their main course. I give my vote to this buttery sweet Chocolate Almond muffin.

The Huat Breakfast ($17.00)

At a net price of $17, it’s rather decent. Although the taste does not differ much from a typical “big breakfast” platter, and as a meat lover, i am quite pleased for the inclusion of a whole sausage. The baked potato is also a healthier choice compared to hash brown.

Scrambled Egg is smooth and runny but I wish that it can be more flavourful though. The portion is also quite decent for this price. Overall an “OK” dish.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich S$13.00

Among the three main courses, i like this Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich the most. The bread is well toasted, the steak slices is well flavored that is topped with melted cheese and served fresh from the oven. And how bad can a serving of nachos be? Ordering this should be a decent and safe option.

Cod Fillet S$19.00

Their cod fish is rather disappointing. The portion is small. Appearance wise is not appealing and the cod fish is rather dry and tough and doesn’t come cheap. I’m sorry but this is a big thumbs down.

Can a piece of Cod Fish looks any sadder?

Conclusion

I thought sitting indoor is a much better experience as you chill out and just sit around, watching how the Barista enthusiastically prepares every cup of beverage so as to appreciate the effort behind a cup of hand crafted coffee.

As for their food, i am not particularly impress and CSHH’s food is probably not my first choice at the area. While i love the Aero-Pressed Coffee more than their Caffe Latte, their food didn’t exactly score well here. It’s a pity that the food does not excite me as much as their beverages.

Therefore my conclusion is Chye Seng Huat Coffee Bar is a great place to chill out and to grab a cup of coffee after a meal, and maybe plus a cup cake, provided that the crowd is not crazy.

Hatter Street Cafe, the hipster cafe near Kovan MRT

Hatter Street – Bakehouse & Cafe

Address (Google Map): 212 Hougang Street 21, #01-333, Singapore 530212

Opening hours: 1:00pm – 10:00pm, closed on Monday

Introduction

When i first know about Hatter Street Cafe, i was quite excited as there are rather limited (hipster) cafes along the north-east MRT line. Hatter Street Cafe is walking distance away from Kovan MRT and it’s literally beside a rather well-known Thai neighborhood eatery Nakhon Kitchen (see my previous review).

When i first visited this place, i remember it was not as crowded,  and a fatherly figure attended to my order. Not knowing that i blog about food, he was so painstakingly selling the pastry concepts, the thoughts behind it and explaining the effort put in in decorating the cafe in hoping to get more returning customers. i figured that he may be the father of the boss and if he really is, that’s a good father all right!

Hatter Cafe is a rather cosy restaurant that has an indoor sitting capacity of no more than thirty pax. The interior design is inspired by the popular animation Alice in Wonderland. It sells mainly drinks, pasteries and waffles. Apart from their brownies and waffles, i think they do not have a fix food menu.  What ever you see in their fridge is what ever you can order for the day.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Waffles drizzled in Salted Caramel $8.90

I had this twice and it’s still as good on the second time.  In fact I thought the portion is bigger. Their waffle is exceptionally crispy and yet the inside remain moist. I find caramel sauce quite sweet most of the time but not for Hatter’s salted caramel. There is a good balance between the sweet and salty taste that goes perfectly with the waffle.

There’s no complain for their ice-cream. It’s rich, creamy and good till the last drop. At a price of $8.50, this should be among the best waffles (in term of taste + value) that i had.

Pandan Ice Cream Waffle with Gula Melaka $8.90

This is also another interesting flavour as Hatter decides to drizzle their waffle with Gula Melaka and pair it with a unique pandan flavour ice cream. It is largely popular on social media and many said that it’s the best waffle that they ever had.

For me, the pandan ice cream don’t taste exactly like what I imagined it to be, probably lacking the fragrance of a real pandan leaf but the Gula Melaka drizzle works for me. This is good but if you ask me, I prefer the vanilla ice cream waffle with salted caramel.

Alice (White Chocolate Brownie) with Home Made Ice Cream $6.80

Apparently the intended signature dish of Hatter Cafe is their home made brownies. However the waffle is much more popular instead. With much curiosity, i ordered their white chocolate brownie.

As expected, the cocoa taste is not as rich as a typical brownie but the sweet milky white chocolate taste is unique in it’s own way. The brownie is not too dry but lacks in texture. It taste like a compact sponge cake. I feel that their brownie is ok, but if I know in advance that their waffle is sold out, i probably won’t specially make a trip down for their brownie.

Other Pastries

Here is a list of what you may find In Hatter Street Cafe:

Chocolate Ice Cream Whoaffles with Chocolate Sauce – $8.90

Mad Hare – $7.50 (Rich Brownie topped with Home Made Ice Cream)

Alice – $6.80 (White Chocolate Brownie served with Home Made Ice Cream)

Oh My 天 – $7.50 (Cookies and Cream Brownie with Oreo Ice Cream)

Kick 来 Liao – $6.20 (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake)

It’s so Kumquat – $6.00 (A Chinese New Year inspired Tart)

Smoked Saw Dust Pudding – $5.00 (Experience Macau through the journey of food)

To Arthur with Love – $6.20 (Guiness & Tiramisu)

水井坊 Tiramisu – $6.20 (Tribute to a very fragrant Chinese White Wine)

Conclusion

Apparently Hatter Street Cafe intend to market their home-baked brownie as their signature dish but it is their waffle that stood out in the end and I totally agree. For those who love crispy waffle, i am willing to bet that you will enjoy this. For the first to comment that you don’t like these waffles, i’ll do up a review base on your choice of restaurant. Not too ex please. Hahaha.

One thing to improve is the air conditioning. During busy time,  the air-con is not strong enough and the cafe is a little hot, especially when people are going In and out of the cafe. Apart from that, Hatter Street Cafe had made it’s way into my list of best waffle in Singapore.

Oblong @ Serangoon Garden

Oblong, the hidden little ice cream shop at Serangoon Garden

Address (Google Map): 10 Maju Avenue

Opening hours: Sun to Thu: 12.00 pm – 12.00 am Fri & Sat: 12.00 pm- 2.00 am (as per FB page)

Introduction

Oblong, is a cafe that mainly serves ice cream, waffle and pastries that is situated at the Serangoon Garden region. I actually like Serangoon Garden a lot because it’s a very laid back neighbourhood and we don’t see people rushing from places to places.

Menu written on the glass wall behind the counter. Click to enlarge

Oblong Cafe’s minimalist industrial design gives the cafe a bright and spacious outlook which all attention will be brought to their pastry counter and the scribbled menu of the glass board.

The owner also casually place some random items like the ukulele, magazines and a basketball hoop at various corners. Customers can play or read them at our own comfort and it seems to be inviting us to “make ourselves at home”.

Red Velvet Waffle with Ice Cream Combo ($10.00)

I was quite surprised when I saw that they are offering a waffle, a scoop of ice cream and a cup of gourmet coffee at $10.00. At most places, a waffle already cost more than that and a cup of Caffe Latte already cost about $4.50 to $5.00.

The portion of the waffle is smaller (but not by a lot) but it’s good enough for an after-meal dessert. The waffles is crispy and not too dry. The red velvet waffle actually doesn’t taste very different from an ordinary waffle just that there is a hint of chocolate flavour and red food coloring. The difference is actually the cream cheese that comes with it that completes a red velvet waffle.

I enjoyed Oblong’s cream cheese very much. The cheese salty taste doesn’t overpower the cream’s sweetness and i love it for it’s moist and creamy texture. I don’t even need the ice-cream and i can finish just the waffle with cream cheese.

As for the ice cream, I’m not sure is it just me or what. I thought there is a taste that don’t normally exist in handmade ice-cream. I can’t really tell what it is but it taste something like ermm… soy milk? Apparently when i posted a photo of Oblong waffle on instagram, unlike me, most people seem to comment that they enjoy their ice-cream very much.

Buttermilk Waffle with Ice Cream Combo ($10 with drink)

Unconvinced, i ordered a Buttermilk Waffle just to have another shot on their ice-cream and this time i ordered a hazelnut flavour, and there is the same exact taste in a different flavour. Am i the only one? Let me know if you feel likewise.

Considering that the regular waffle cost exactly the same as the Red Velvet Waffle, i will go for the red velvet any time. It’s not that the waffle is bad, but the red velvet is better.

Conclusion

Enjoying a cup of coffee and waffle ice cream at Oblong on a weekend late morning is very much enjoyable because of the lack of crowd. This place is actually quite crowded at night after 8.00pm.

Oblong also offers dessert combo for their lava cake and brownie at a price of $10.00 with a drink. I should applaud their effort for maintaining an affordable price for their reasonable quality desserts and hope they maintain it this way. Overall, i recommend their red velvet waffle with ice-cream over their normal waffle.

The only drawback is for the lack of ventilation in the cafe while they are toasting their waffle and that makes your clothes smell after staying in the air-con cafe for an extended period of time.

I had also wrote about another cafe that sells Red Velvet Waffle to make a comparison. You may read more about it here.

Red Velvet Waffle from Stateland Cafe