The PappaRich brand synonymous with traditional coffee shop fare served in a modern setting has been to date, franchised more than 90 times internationally, with outlets in America, India and Indonesia in the works as well. Originating in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, founder Rich Tan has come a long way since his inception into the food scene back in 2005 when he first had a dream to make authentic Malaysian hawker delights within reach of the masses and even those abroad.
In Singapore alone today, there are 4 outlets dispersed all around the island- The Star Vista, Parkway Parade, Suntec City Mall and Westgate Mall. I personally have not been to the original PappaRich in Malaysia so I had to rely on my friends whom I was dining with, to identify for me which dishes were truly Malaysian and authentic. Maybe some of you who have been to the branches in Malaysia too can share how the Singapore ones measure up to those in our neighbouring country.
We start with some classic Kopitiam breakfast items of bread, kaya and half boiled eggs. While the bread at coffee shops are usually toasted before slathered on with kaya and a chunk of butter, these ones at PappaRich are steamed instead- a testament to how fresh it actually is. Soft, fluffy and even a little springy, these loaves are made with a traditional Hainan recipe exclusively for all PappaRich outlets only. The best part is that the homemade kaya and butter is served alongside so you can spread as much of that smooth pandan goodness as you want. Definitely one of my highlights that evening and I have even made plans to return for breakfast this weekend because I cannot stop thinking about it! You will also be disappointed to know that they do not sell their homemade kaya in bottles- we tried asking but was turned down (apparently dozens of others have also enquired previously).
Hidden on the second level of a two-storey shophouse in the heart of the Duxton enclave is the unlikely find of a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health cafe. Unlikely because with the popping up of numerous cafes and third-wave coffee movement eateries, this zen oasis offering healthy Chinese ala-carte dishes and tea sets is quite unexpected and a treasured find.
Opened by the The Renhai Clinic located just downstairs at level one, the cafe- Herbal Oasis@Duxton is founder Dr Hong Hai’s attempt at educating the public on holistic living through specialty brewed teas, herbal soups and even a library of reading materials on TCM and health in this quiet and relaxing space.
Choose from the list of Herbal Teas ranging from Clear Vision Tea made up of mulberry, chrysanthemum and wolfberry to a Complexion-Enhancing Tea with flora herbs or even a Noble Tea for Rejuvenation with American Ginseng and match it with a Red Dates Muffin or Black Sesame Muffin with Lemon for just $7 and you have gotten yourself an Afternoon Tea that is friendly to your waistline.
For something more substantial, Herbal Oasis@Duxton also offers affordable Lunch Sets from $15 onwards. Each set comes with a choice of rice, soup and dish but items are all subject to availability.
While we were there, only 2 choices of rice were offered- the Yam Rice and Walnut Brown Rice. Extremely filling with chunks of yam in the former and bits of walnuts and raisins in the latter, both varieties were good to eat even on their own. Other options on other days would include the Olive or Pumpkin Rice. Each bowl is $4 should you choose to order it ala-carte.
Our second Restaurant Week visit was to one of The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s signature restaurants- Clifford. Touted as one of the most romantic restaurants in Singapore with its 10 metre high ceilings and Victorian-chic interior, further complimented by the spectacular views of the Marina Bay Waterfront, it comes as no surprise that the French Brasserie has been fully booked since its inception into Restaurant Week a few years back.
With the DiningCity Star bestowed upon it, their set lunches had a supplement of $15++ while set dinners were an additional $20++. As I mentioned before in my Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (OCF) Restaurant Week entry, I was initially not planning on taking part in this Restaurant Week edition. Nonetheless, the lure of an available table which opened up last minute one afternoon was too hard to resist. So we went down to see what the hype was all about!
We were given 2 choices for our starters for the 3 course set lunch- another 3 choices were given if you were willing to add-on and pay more. The Scallop and Lobster Carpaccio with Lime Black Truffle Dressing +$12 was our immediate pick but the waiter informed us that supply had not yet come in. So we settled for the Beetroot Cured Salmon with Wasabi and Salmon Roe, and Basil Pesto Laced Minestrone with Fresh Pasta Ribbons instead- both from the actual Restaurant Week lunch menu.
Former co-owner of Hinoki Japanese Dining- Chef Lawrence Chia has gone solo with his newest venture- Shinzo Japanese Cuisine at 17 Carpenter Street. While the entrance to the restaurant is unassuming and somewhat dodgy-looking, the mood and feeling changes the moment you open the doors. From the cheery voices of the chefs behind the counters that greet you, to the attentive waitresses that are prompt to serve you, it is hard not to feel welcome or even come in unnoticed especially when the space is so intimate and cosy. Barely seating 20 around the counter, dining at Shinzo is an interactive and welcoming experience where Chef Lawrence plays host, chef and entertainer to his guests.
We came on a weekday evening for dinner and while the seats were initially empty, they were quickly filled up as the night went on. Judging from the friendly banter exchanged between Chef Lawrence and his customers, and the numerous toasts of sake and red wine throughout the evening, it was obvious that these diners were not here for the first time. Chef Lawrence explains that the atmosphere here at Shinzo is convival and set such that everyone feels at home, enjoys good food and leaves feeling happy, which is why customers return time and time again- some loyal ones who had even followed him from Hinoki. The word ‘Shinzo’ does after all, mean ‘heart’ in the Japanese language.
Shinzo offers lunch sets for executives from $38++ onwards, while those who have a bit more time to spare during dinner, can choose from his omakase courses which start at $138++.
Our $168++ omakase dinner was made up of 8 courses- appetizer, starter, sashimi, seasonal item, steamed, sushi, soup and dessert. The idea is to let Chef Lawrence know your budget and taste preferences so that he can tailor a menu just for you.
We started with a Tomato from the Ehime region of Japan, reputed for its freshness and sweetness.
Not all about eggs, baked beans, waffles or pancakes anymore, KU DÉ TA Singapore redefines brunch by putting a Modern Asian twist to it. The menu curated by Executive Chef Frederic Faucheux, is a 5 course Japanese-inspired one and a culinary showcase of his Nobu roots. From traditional favourites of Donburi, Okonomiyaki and Ramen to unconventional takes on Laksa and Char Siew Hong Kong Noodles, KU DÉ TA’s newly launched Modern Asian Weekend Brunch is set to excite the palate and create an identity of its own in the world of brunch.
Oysters, Salmon Sashimi, Tuna Tataki
Our Saturday morning started on a luxurious note with bowls of Edamame sprinkled with Maldon salt grains, freshly shucked Oysters adorned with rich fat spheres of ikura, chopped apple and sweet wobbly bits of konbu kelly, and Salmon Sashimi dressed in creamy shishito dressing with an addictive umami finish.