Real Food and my favorite Dumpling Soup at Clarke Quay

Real Food and my favorite Dumpling Soup

Address: The Central 6 Eu Tong Sen St The Central #B1-52/53

Opening hours: Daily 9.00am to 9.00pm

Introduction

Real Food, one of the rare vegetarian cafes in Singapore. This cafe is situated at basement one of The Central Clarke Quay. One section of the cafe is for dining, and another section offers a good section of organic / health food. The cafe interior is very spacious, relaxing, with a minimalist design.

Real Food pride themselves as a food-ethical bunch of folks that only use fresh and “recognisable” ingredients (non processed food) for their dishes and everything is prepared from scratch, including their pancake mix and salad dressing. They have a good selection of menu including salad, pasta, noodle, sandwich, burger and brunch menu etc.

Real Food menu – click to enlarge

Dumpling Soup ($9.50)

This is my must-order whenever i visit Real Food. This fat chunky dumpling is made from over ten kinds of ingredients including chopped carrot, mushroom, coriander, turnip, spring onion, celery, tofu, french bean etc.

The filling has the crunchiness of the turnip and french bean, fragrance of spring onion and coriander, chewiness of mushroom and overall it’s a mix of pure goodness.

These dumplings are soaked in a sweet and light mushroom base broth and complete with a portion of green vegetable. In term of taste, these dumplings are not pale in comparison, or in fact better than many meat/prawn dumpling found outside. There is also option to add on noodle at an additional cost of $1.80.

Sour Dough Sandwich with Soft-boiled Egg ($9.80)

For those that don’t like their meal to feel too vegetarian-ny, this is one choice as it resembles the eggy brunch that we had, but a less sinful and less luxurious version. I particularly like the thick layer of melted cheese with it’s fragrance filling the air when it’s served fresh from the oven.

However I feel that the portion definitely can be bigger. I’m quite sure that it won’t fill a meal for a grown man and some of you may be thinking, “$9.80 for one egg, two slices of bread, cheese and salad? Seriously?”. Seems like real food don’t come cheap huh.

Organic Pizza ($16.00)

After having so many years of the unhealthy version of pizza, my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered their organic pizza. The portion is good and it’s freshly baked from the oven. There’s no processed food among the ingredients but only fresh ingredients like tomato, mushroom, pineapple, cucumber, olives, capsicum, cheese, and their homemade tomato paste.

The crust is thin and crispy and the homemade tomato sauce is pretty refreshing. However, I do not fancy this pizza much as i think it lacks the satisfaction that I’m looking for in a pizza. But I have to agree that this is one guilty free pizza.

Conclusion

I like this place for the ample space that they give to their diners. Take your time to grab a book from their book/magazine selection or browse through their organic food section and be amazed by their selection.

Food wise, i give it a good and bad, depending on what you order, and this is from the point of view of a meat lover. I personally love their dumpling soup the most and this is my one and only regular order whenever i visit this place. I am still trying out the other dishes to see what’s worth the money.

I really like the idea of them promising that they only whip up a meal using “real food” as it’s so unhealthy to eat out nowadays. If you are looking for something healthy, a little out of the ordinary and a nice place to chill, Real Food is probably the place for you. Healthy and clean food? Seems like it, but no promise it’s satisfying though

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Tae Woo Korean Restaurant – Singapore’s Best Jajangmyeon

Tae Woo Korean Restaurant  (태우반점)

Jajangmyeon, is a Korean dish well known by all. Before my trip to Seoul, little did I know that Jajangmyeon is not readily available in any Korean restaurant but only selling it in Chinese restaurant in Korea. It is kind of a fusion between Chinese and Korean dish. Jajangmyeon is one of the first Korean dishes that i’d known because it’s quite commonly found in Singapore. In this post, I’m writing about the best one that I had in Singapore. Tae Woo Korean Restaurant is situated at level 3 of The Central Clarke Quay, just above TCC. Tae Woo actually has quite a reputation among the Singapore Korean community due to it’s authentic Korean taste. This place is not crowded most of the time, but I’m bound to see Korean speaking patrons whenever I visit this place. There isn’t any hot stone rice, Korean BBQ and there’s also no Army Stew on their menu. What they are offering are more of a typical Chinese Korean menu like Jajangmyeon, Seafood Noodle (Jjamppong), Sweet and Sour Pork (Tangsuyuk) and Gyoja.

Menu: Click to enlarge

Jajangmyeon ($12.00++)

At $12.00, i consider this as reasonably priced. I really like the texture of their handmade noodle. It’s rather chewy, a little soft but not to the extend of soggy. The Jajang is not starchy and not overly watery but with just the right thickness that clings to every strand of noodle. The sweetness of their bean paste sauce mainly come from the cubes of meat and the onions, which is cooked till melty soft. The slight greasy Jajang is smooth and really enjoyable. For people that like it salty, you can stir in the separate plate of their Chunjang. Comparing to the Jajangmyeon that I had in Singapore, Taewoo’s is easily the best that i had and it is very very similar to the one in Seoul (read more about Andongjang, the oldest Korean Chinese restaurant in Seoul). Tangsuyuk ($26.00++)

Tangsuyuk is another very popular Chinese dish in Korea. It translate directly to Sweet & Vinegar Pork (糖醋肉). The idea is very similar to our Singapore’s sweet and sour pork, whereby pork is portioned into bite size, breaded and fried, and tossed in a sweet sour sauce. There’s no pineapple, but these stripes of pork is tossed into a mix of onion, carrot and black fungus and the sour taste mainly come from white vinegar. Unlike our Singapore style sweet sour pork, there is traces of ginger taste in the breading. It is quite good when it’s served and it’s a pity that the sweet vinegar sauce is a little too much and the crispy pork strips got soaked and became soggy after a while. I personally still think that cutting pork into cubes give a better texture than strips. For the price of $26 and for it’s portion, I would prefer our Singapore style sweet and sour pork. Japchae Bap ($17.00++)

Chapchae can be served as both main course and side dish. In this case, it’s served together with a portion of rice as Japchae Bap. It is freshly stir fried and served steaming hot. Apart from the usual ingredient carrot and onion, Taewoo’s version is a more luxurious version with added slices of pork, black fungus and green pepper. This Japchae is slightly peppery and is full of sesame oil fragrance. Unlike the side dish version of Japchae where it’s cold, drier with a bouncy texture, this is served hot, moist and soft. It also comes as a surprise as I didn’t realise that Japchae actually goes pretty well with white rice. I have no complain on this Japchae and in fact it’s pretty good! Conclusion

At a glance of the menu, i wouldn’t use the word affordable to describe the price tag of the dishes. Among them, their Jajangmyeon should be the most reasonably priced and sometimes I will visit Taewoo just for that when I’m having craving for some authentic Korean Jajangmyeon. Taewoo is a hidden gem at The Central and there’s not much crowd here and I like the fact that i can always get a table immediately. I wouldn’t recommend to start a feast at Taewoo as it might cost you a bomb. I do recommend their Jajangmyeon very much, and probably try out the other dishes, one new dish per visit.

Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong Fortress Hill

Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong (添好運 / 添好运)- The One Michelin Star Dim Sum

English Address (Google Map): 2-8 Wharf Road, Seaview Building, North Point

Chinese Address: 北角和富道2-8號嘉洋大廈地下B,C及D鋪

Opening hours: 10am to 9.30pm

Scroll to the end for address and opening hours of other Tim Ho Wan Branches

Click here to view my full Hong Kong Food Itinerary and the 8 must-know about Hong Kong Cafe Culture

Introduction

Firstly, i will bore you with a little bit of history of Tim Ho Wan (添好運/添好运). The main chef Mak Kwai Pui (麥桂培) of Tim Ho Wan was originally from a well established restaurant  under the Four Season group – Lung King Heen (龍景軒). He later opened Tim Ho Wan in year 2009 that offers 5 stars hotel Dim Sum at street price.

In less than a year, Tim Ho Wan was awarded one star by Michelin. By then, it already has a reputation for selling the best dim sum in Hong Kong. As we know, it had created a storm when they opened their first branch in Singapore.

I used to visit their branch situated between Prince Edward and Sham Shui Po station and that is the branch that was awarded the Michelin star. I remember it was not exactly a great experience. The place is really really cramped and the waiting time is crazy, and service is below average. My conclusion then is they are great for the Polo Char Siew Bao.

When i visited Hong Kong this time, I didn’t have the intention to visit Tim Ho Wan but i got some free time on hand and the location is rather near my hotel so i thought , “Ok I’ll give it another shot”. I visited their Fortress Hill branch for supper at around 8.45pm.

This branch is at least 4 times bigger than the one that I visited and it’s much more spacious and well decorated. It was almost full house but i still manage to get a table instantly. I only ordered a few items, and surprisingly, all of them hit the right spots.

Tim Ho Wan's Menu: Click to enlarge

Tim Ho Wan’s Menu: Click to enlarge

Char Siew Polo Bun (酥皮叉烧包)

The Polo Char Siew Bao is fluffy soft and topped with a thin layer of not-overly-sweet sugar crust. The Char Siew is covered in a warm thick and rich gravy. The bun’s crispy texture complement the Char Siew perfectly.

This is the exact item that was awarded with one Michelin Star and just one serving is always not enough. This is still the best item at Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong. However, i do hope that they can be more generous with the Char Siew fillings though. This dish cost HK$18 (S$2.90) while it cost S$5.25 in Singapore.

Beef Ball with Bean Stick (陈皮牛肉球)

This dish is pretty good as well for it’s soft steamed and well marinated minced beef. There is a well balance of fatty and lean beef in this combination and the steamy hot beef ball taste really fresh.

There are also Bean Sticks (Tau Kee) placed beneath the meat ball and they absorb the natural sweet meat sauce during the process of steaming. This meat ball is my second favourite dish of the day. This cost HK$16 (S$2.60) while it cost S$4.90 in Singapore.

Steamed Malay Sponge Cake (香滑马拉糕) 

This is one of the four heavenly kings of Tim Ho Wan and it’s well known for it’s soft fluffy texture. I had this in Singapore’s Tim Ho Wan and i actually like it, but it comes at a costly price tag of $4.45 nett.

For the same item, it only cost HK$15 (S$2.40) and therefore makes this dish much more enjoyable than having it in Singapore. The steamed cake is served piping hot and i enjoy the fluffy spongy texture with a eggy light brown sugar taste.

Beancurd Skin Roll with Meat and Prawn (美味鲜竹卷)

The ingredient of the Beancurd Skin Roll taste very fresh and flavourful and the shredded vegetable wrapped in the chewy Beancurd Skin actually enhances the overall texture.

The gravy that comes with it has just the right level of saltiness and does not overpower the main lead. It cost HK$20 (S$3.20) while it cost S$4.65 back in Singapore.

Conclusion

Actually I myself was quite surprise that the experience of visiting Tim Ho Wan’s Fortress Hill brand is vastly different from the previous visit (5 years ago) of the Sham Shui Po Branch. Comparing Hong Kong’s price to Singapore, their signature Polo Char Siew bun is mark up by a whopping 80%. I always have this philosophy that the taste of food is somehow link to the price and waiting time. For this visit, there is zero waiting time and realising Tim Ho Wan’s affordable price, everything appears to be better.

Their century egg congee is not the most flavourful. Those who enjoy something light may enjoy this porridge much.

For those who are already a fan of Tim Ho Wan, then this is a must-visit for you. And for those who think that Singapore Tim Ho Wan’s price is too exorbitant, this will be your chance to enjoy a better quality Tim Ho Wan at a much cheaper price.

Click here to view my full Hong Kong Food Itinerary and the 8 must-know about Hong Kong Cafe Culture

Map and Directions

Actually Tim Ho Wan is between the Fortress Hill and North Point Station but it’s more straight forward to walk from Fortress Hill.  It’s about a 7 to 10 minutes walk.

1. Come out from Exit B of Fortress Hill Station

2. Walk straight and turn left at a junction to Power Street

3. Continue walking straight until a T Junction and turn right on City Garden Road

4. Continue walking straight. City Garden Hotel will be on your left.

5. After passing City Garden Hotel, walk a little bit more and Tim Ho Wan will be on your right.

Scroll to bottom to see address and opening hours of other Tim Ho Wan branches

Other Tim Ho Wan Branches

Olympian City Branch

Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui [大角咀海庭道18號奧海城二期G樓72號舖]

Opening hour: 10am to 9.30pm

Sham Shui Po Branch

11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po [深水埗福榮街9-11號地下]

Opening hour: 8am to 9.30pm

Central Branch

Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central [中環香港站12A鋪(IFC地庫一層]

Opening hour: 9am to 9pm

Tseung Kwan O Branch

Shop 49, G/F., POPCORN 2, 9 Tong Chun Street, Tseung Kwan O [將軍澳唐俊街9樓POPCORN 2期地下49號] O

pening hour: 10am to 9.30pm

Marutama Ramen (Best Tamago Egg) @ The Central

Marutama Ramen

Address: The Central, 8 Eu Tong Sen Street #03-90

Opening hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm daily

Introduction

I still remember the first time I visited this place, I am not exactly a fan of their chicken broth ramen. The noodle taste like Wanton Noodle texture and unlike most ramen, their ramen is moderately light and simple but unique in it’s own way. I only learnt to appreciate Marutama after having many other pork broth soup base ramen.

Click to see enlarged menu

I once went for a Ramen hunt in Singapore some time back that includes ramen like Ippuddo, Mentei, Santouka, Baikohken, Yoshimaru, Tampopo, Noodle Ken. I thought the taste of Marutama Ramen is refreshing and one of it’s own kind in Singapore. Marutama claimed that their soup has zero msg and every pot of soup is cooked over low fire for at last 24 hours to bring out the chicken broth’s natural sweetness.

Hakata Style Ramen

The so-call Wanton Mee texture ramen is actually a kind of ramen style which is known as the Hakata-styled Ramen. The taste of the noodle is very distinct. It’s firm in texture and ultra thin and straight. The noodle are boiled very quickly and served.

Nama Karashi Ramen (Spicy Chicken Soup) – $12.00++

I always order the spicy version as I prefer the soup to has a stronger taste instead of the original flavor. To be frank, the non spicy version is a little bland for my taste. Adding the fried garlic slices and sesame is strongly recommended to bring out the flavor of their soup. The ramen comes with two thin slices of Char Siu, seaweed and fresh spring onion.

I know they have never slice their egg and will serve a whole egg, but for the purpose a nicer photo for my blog post, i requested the person to slice the egg for me and he looked a little shocked. LOL.

Ajitsuke Tamago – $1.50++

At $1.50, the soft-boil egg is a must-order. In my opinion, even till date, their egg is arguably one of the best in Singapore. I don’t know how Marutama did it but apparently the flavor of the stock had infused into the egg white and yolk as well. I never fail to order their egg for every visit.

Char Siu Rice (Char Siu Gohan) – S5.00++

Additional noodle refill (Kadama) can be done by topping up of S$2.00 but do leave some soup for that. Else. if i am feeling a little hungry that day, i will order their Char Siu Rice. I thought this is also one of the better Char Siu Rice around and i love the braised Char Siu. The rice is so-so, but i love the taste and texture of the braised meat.

Conclusion

I have friends who feedback that Marutama’s soup is rather bland. Perhaps like myself initially, I’m too comparing this chicken-base soup with pork-base ramen soup in mind, which this two kind of soup bases are rather different altogether. It’s like saying a Bak Kut Teh (Pork Rib Soup) has more flavor than this Fishball soup so this Fishball soup is bad.

I think Marutama Ramen is likely a “either you love it or hate it” kind of ramen but i do learnt to appreciate this for it’s unique soup broth and a different style of noodle, and definitely loving the egg.

L’Atelier Tiramisu (The Tiramisu Workshop)

L’Atelier Tiramisu

Address: The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street #B1-09

Operating hours: 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Introduction

Happen to chance upon this cafe at Clarke Quay The Central. The first thing that caught my attention was their signage that reads “L’Atelier Tiramisu” and the small seating capacity of the cafe. My first thought was “If a cafe can survive just by selling Tiramisu, it must be really good”.  That’s when i decided to try it out, and i am not disappointed. This is my second visit to L’Atelier Tiramisu.

The Tiramisu comes in four flavors – Classico, Lychee, Dark Cherry and Matcha, or you can try the Sampler Set at $15.00 to try out all four flavors.

Tiramisu – Classico

Among the flavors, the Classico is my favourite. Their Tiramisu is briefly divided into five layers, with the top layer as the cocoa powder, the cheese cream, the coffee soaked biscuit (or the sponge cake), another layer of cheese cream and the bottom layer of biscuit. The biscuit at the bottom layer taste a little sweeter and is not as wet as the top layer.

The most distinguish taste of this Tiramisu is it’s really moist biscuit center that is soaking wet with coffee and i can taste the sweet coffee aroma from every bite.

I also like the moderately sweetened Mascarpone cheese cream very much. The proportion of the cheese spread over the two layers are just good enough to complement the bitter taste of the coffee. A piece of Tiramisu cost me $6.80 which i thought that it’s well worth it.

Tiramisu – Dark Cherry

I tried the Matcha flavor in my first visit and i am having the Dark Cherry this time round. The layering of the cake is similar to the Classico just that they swap the coffee to cherry juice with some very fine fruit pulp, i think.

L’Atelier also added a thin layer of icing sugar on the top of the cake before ending off with the layer of cocoa powder. I personally prefer something a little bitter than a tinge of sour taste so my vote goes to the Classico.

Pandan Tiramisu *Update as of 01 October 2013*

L’atelier had launched a new flavor today – The Pandan flavor. This time, it does not comes in slices but in a cup. The price is $7.80, a dollar more than their normal range.

To be honest, this cake surprised me. As always, their Tiramisu is really moist, with added coconut rum, and they are rather generous with the mascarpone cheese. For this new creation, there is an additional layer of crispy chocolate center well hidden within this cake and i was surprised by this. I thought i tasted Milo powder, though the lady boss said that this is a layer of Chocolate Biscuit. L’atelier then  finished the cake with a layer of coconut flakes.

The two cake layers is infused with the sweet aroma of Pandan which goes really well with the mascarpone cheese. The layer of coconut flakes add an extra crunch to the overall texture. I thought the best way to eat this cake is to eat all the layers in one mouthful to savor the flavors and different texture all at once. If you are someone who like Pandan Kway or coconut, i think this will be a hit for you.

I was asking the lady boss why was Pandan selected among all the available flavors and her reply was that she hoped to come up with a very localised flavor. She elaborated that she took three months to perfect this recipe and i think she did a pretty good job.

Lychee Tiramisu *Update as of 01 October 2013*

I also finally tried their Lychee Tiramisu and completed the full set of flavors! After having the Pandan Tiramisu, the Lychee Tiramisu appears as slightly less impressive, thought it’s still rather good. There are some lychee meat and juice mixed into the cream layers between the sweetened sponge layers and finish with chocolate sprinkle and cinnamon powder. If you ask me my order of preference, it will be – Classico, Pandan, Lychee, Dark Cherry, Green Tea (sorry!).

Conclusion

I am quite sure that this second visit will not be my last visit to L’Atelier cus i have yet to try out the Lychee Flavor. The portion of L’Atelier’s Tiramisu Cake is just nice, not too big, and not too small, which makes it the ideal dessert after a meal. No matter how full i am, i think i should be able to squeeze out a little stomach space for a L’Atelier Tiramisu.