Tag Archives: Hidden Find
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.
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.
A joint effort between A Thousand Tales (ATT) – the group that brought you Bar Stories, The Crostini Bar, MAD and Table Manners, and Timbre Group, fine-dining French restaurant Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (OCF) is one of the new entrants for this year’s Restaurant Week (March edition).
Truth be told, I was not planning on participating this time round because after having had 2 years and 4 editions worth of experience, I have not been too impressed with some restaurants’ haphazard ways of handling the Restaurant Week crowd and the food, being prepared on a large scale, did not usually do justice to what the restaurant had to truly offer.
Nonetheless, OCF piqued my interest and seeing available slots for a 3-course lunch offered at $25++ with no additional charges from the DiningCity Star, I could not resist making a reservation.
Not many know that this one year old restaurant is actually fondly named after Sir Stamford Raffles’ first wife- Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt. The 60-seater space is intimate with a refined air of elegance and dignity. Service is prompt and attentive from the moment you step in. An open-concept kitchen steals the show with bar counter seats offering a front row view of the chefs in action while a stage with a grand piano offers a platform for live music to be played in the evenings.
The newest cafe to open in Upper Thomson Road, month old One Man Coffee has wisely decided to share the space of Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar instead of finding one of their own. ‘It makes perfect sense’, Sarah Jane Lin (one of the partners of One Man Coffee) lets on, ‘after all, the pizzeria only opens from 5pm onwards so we might as well share their rent’. Spoken like a true pragmatic especially when high rental costs are one of the main reasons why eateries are closing down so quickly these days.
One Man Coffee currently only has an all-day-brunch menu of five offerings featuring anything that can made using a pizza oven. But that constraint is hardly limiting as Sarah- a former chef at Immigrants Gastrobar is always game for a challenge and discloses that she is currently experimenting and will soon be introducing even more items to the menu. Baked eggs and grilled cheese anyone?
Coffee enthusiasts who flock here will be treated to a brew made from Melbourne’s Axil Coffee Roasters beans pulled by the expert hands of Sarah’s partner who has worked his way through many Melbourne cafes. An Espresso starts at $3 and an Iced Mocha is $6.50. Prices are also nett here.
For more places that do not charge GST or for service, do check out my list of 25 Places To Eat In Singapore with Nett Prices.
We tried their Toad in the Hole served with Bacon Jam $10 and French Toast Brioche with Homemade Berry Compote and Candied Walnuts $10 during our visit here on a weekday afternoon. Though there was a bigger obvious crowd seen at neighbour Habitat Coffee a few doors down, the quiet and solace which One Man Coffee offered was much more welcoming to me. The space was cosy, dimly lit- allowing just the right amount of sunlight to flow through their windows while furniture was woody, rustic but still stylish and put together.
Another brunch place in the West has opened. Taking over the shophouse space formerly occupied by Haato at Ridgewood Close condominium, this place is really not for those who do not drive or cab in- the nearest bus stop is at least a 10 minute walk away. Nonetheless, people coming here who are looking for a quiet respite and cafe to chill on the weekends may be disappointed because crowds have already hopped on the bandwagon and the place was full house and bustling on a late Saturday morning when we dropped by- we had to sit at the al fresco area. None too shabby I have to say, for a cafe that has been opened only for 3 months in a tad obscure location.
Started by three young friends who met during their university days in Perth, the cafe is also fondly named after the street they used to live in. Serving brunch food from opening till 2pm everyday, the menu switches to a more mains and pastas one from 6pm onwards. Lunch is served in between from 11am-2pm as well, with nothing more than $16 while dinner items are $20 and below.
We had our Eggs Benedict $12.90 with Smoked Salmon and with the sprinkle of cracked black pepper and dash of cayenne pepper, this was a pretty picture- truly Instagram worthy. The only problem was that because it was so crowded and they seemed shorthanded, we had to wait roughly 40 minute for this arrive. And we were both ravenous by the time it did. So did it taste good? The combination was enjoyable I have to admit though I did not have the patience to tease out the individual elements of the hollandaise and sourdough because I was simply too hungry. But in case you were curious, both poached eggs were perfect and burst beautifully with flowing yolks.