SETHLUI.com | Food, Travel and Singapore Nightlife blog
Having a keen interest in eating, traveling and drinking, we cover everything from hawker food to premium fine-dining restaurants like Ku De Ta, Morton's, Long Bar Steakhouse and so on. Above all, we try to give honest, balanced reviews without getting sued by restaurant owners. This is more than your average food and travel blog.
Despite being quite the American staple, hamburgers have undoubtedly found their way into most of our hearts. There is nothing more gratifying than sinking your teeth into a juicy, mouthwatering burger.
With the number of fast food joints offering up variations of this delight, we are definitely spoiled for choice. As such, I do consider myself quite the burger connoisseur.
When I saw Ordinary Burgers pop up in City Square Mall, you bet I went down for a proper burger evaluation.
Ordinary Burgers sits in the basement of City Square Mall and looks like your run-of-the-mill alternative burger joint. With the mighty Golden Arches lurking in the corner, the pressure was on.
Another thing that I liked about Ordinary Burgers was how their burgers are made-to-order. This way, freshness is guaranteed.
I was feeling quite ravenous that afternoon, so I did what any self-respecting hungry food critic would do — order nearly everything off the menu.
We began with the Classic (S$6.40) which as the name implies, is a classic cheeseburger. The burger looked pretty simple, beef patty wedged in between the usual suspects of lettuce and tomato and topped with cheese.
Ordinary Burgers also asked for the doneness of my beef patty which was a nice touch on their part; definite brownie points there.
I was quite impressed by how the beef patty had that trademark medium-rare pinky centre. The beef patty was juicy and tender, a promising sign.
As great as the cook on the beef patty was, I would have to say that the other elements were rather unremarkable. While I appreciated that Ordinary Burgers lightly buttered and toasted the bun, it was much too soft.
The bun became soggy after a while and made for a rather messy eating experience — and not in a good way.
Next, I went for the much-anticipated Buttermilk (S$5.90) burger. I was quite excited about this one, this burger featured a crispy buttermilk fried chicken patty slathered in a decadent buttermilk sauce.
My go-to order, this is basically your chicken sandwich with a very tasty glow-up.
The chicken patty was fried well and was crispy to a fault, while the insides were succulent and juicy. The sauce had some curry leaves in it, so it could be easily mistaken for salted egg sauce. I did like the Asian slant that Ordinary Burgers went with for the sauce but it lacked that oomph.
No doubt, the sauce was creamy but lacked seasoning and thus lacked that essential quality to tie all the elements together. Not to mention, I felt they were a little light-handed with the sauce.
Overall, still a pretty satisfactory burger but in need of a few tweaks.
To keep things interesting, I decided to get the Portobello (S$7.50) as my final burger of the day. This burger came with a huge portobello mushroom slathered with cheese, a good portion of caramelised onions and a dollop of special sauce.
Quite surprisingly this was my favourite burger of the lot. The portobello ‘patty’ was peppery and had a good smoky flavour to it.
Plus, the portobello also a good meaty bite to it, coupled with the caramelised onion the burger really hit the spot. I was satiated but not bloated. This is surely the burger for days when you want something a little lighter.
I can’t resist onion rings, so if I see it on the menu, I know I’m ordering it. The Onion Rings came up to about S$2.80 and portion-wise, Ordinary Burgers was pretty generous.
The onion rings were perfectly adequate, and for the price, I’m not complaining. Still, I wouldn’t have minded a side of crisp fries.
The quality of burgers at Ordinary Burgers are certainly a notch higher than those at a fast food joint. You get a burger that is less processed and much fresher. The burgers were not ordinary but they weren’t extraordinary either. There is much room for improvement and areas that need fine-tuning.
Not as refined as I would have liked but they make for a pretty good lunch if you are in a pinch.
Taiwan is famously known for its food scene, with an endless variety of dishes. One of the most well-known dishes that you’ll see in Taiwan would be lu rou fan 卤肉饭, also known as braised pork rice.
If you ever have a craving for some of that rich and tasty goodness, Lu Ding Ji 卤鼎记 offers the best braised pork rice I’ve ever tasted.
Lu Ding Ji is tucked away on the first level of Viva Business Park in Bedok. It’s easily spotted because of the bright store sign against the cool interior background.
A collection of antiques on the shelves along with the large framed pictures gave it a modern vibe, while still reminding diners of the Taiwanese culture.
This restaurant serves up a variety of Taiwanese-inspired dishes, including Soft Shell Crabs, Taiwan Snow Ice and the drink that’s all the hype now: Bubble Tea.
I’ve tried the glorious brown sugar bubble tea at so many different shops that it wouldn’t hurt to try one more. The Brown Sugar Milk Tea (S$3) was what you’d expect — sweet and intense.
The Bubblegum Green Tea (S$3) on the other hand, was more stimulating. As I took the first sip, the taste of the bubblegum hit hard, then left an aftertaste of the green tea. The concoction was oddly refreshing, actually.
While we were there, founder and director of Lu Ding Ji, Mr Kayne Tan shared that all the dishes on the menu are his original recipes that have been passed down to his chefs.
Mr Tan is also constantly coming up with new recipe ideas, like the LDJ Crispy Chawanmushi (S$8).
Bits of mushrooms can be found in the chawanmushi which is cocooned in a layer of fried skin. With both the smoothness of the egg and the crisp texture of the fried skin, the contrast was lovely.
It’s almost a given that we had to try their famous Braised Pork Rice Bowl (S$9.50). When the server was walking over with our food in hand, the aroma hit us and made our stomachs grumble even before we had a chance to take a bite. The presentation of the rice bowl alone was enough to make us drool.
The braised pork was drizzled with a house special sauce that has a sweet yet savoury taste that lingered on my tongue.
The customisation of the dish is entirely up to the diners. You can choose between the Chicken Bowl (S$8.50), Beef Bowl (S$10.50), Mushroom Bowl (S$8.50) or even a Vegetable Bowl (S$7.50). There are also premium options such as the Kurobuta Bowl (S$14.50) and Wagyu Bowl (S$18.50).
Saying that I love half-boiled eggs is an understatement. The brightly-coloured yolk gives any dish a pop of colour but especially so for this primarily brown dish. Also, it went perfectly well with the tender pork and rice.
Lu Ding Ji ensures that the process of cleaning the pig intestines is thorough before cooking and serving the dish. More commonly seen in our local dish kway chap, Lu Ding Ji uses pig intestines and incorporates them into the Intestine Mee Sua Bowl (S$12.50).
To enjoy this dish properly, slurp up the thinly-cut noodles with a piece of pig intestine dipped in chilli sauce. The spice mixed with the tangy bite will leave you wanting more.
Their Crispy Soft Shell Crabs (S$12) is the epitome of pure bliss. Biting into the crispy crab produced an audible crunch.
For anyone who’s been to Taiwan, you’d know that you’ve got to try their mango snow ice. And who can resist dessert? In the Snow Ice series, Lu Ding Ji has a number of flavours to choose from. We ordered the Unicorn Dream Snow Ice (S$8) as it was one of the customers’ favourites.
Dip the scrumptious butter waffle in and scoop up some of the snow ice with the toppings. These include mini marshmallows, exploding pearls, rainbow sprinkles and some jelly bits.
The frosty ice mountain was demolished within minutes. This invigorating dessert will perk you right up, especially with Singapore’s sweltering weather.
My favourite dish had to be the Intestine Mee Sua Bowl. The succulent entrails were quintessential and went well with the Mee Sua. Although the food and service were impeccable, I’d have to say the drinks could be a little milder because the sudden rush of sugar could be briefly unsettling.
Missing Taiwanese food but don’t have the time nor money to fly all the way to Taiwan? Lu Ding Ji offers the best spread of Taiwanese cuisines within an affordable price range.
Expected Damage: S$28.50++ per pax
Lu Ding Ji 卤鼎记: 750 Chai Chee Road, #01-13, Viva Business Park, Singapore 469000 | Tel: +65 9382 5657 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm (Daily) | Website
Original Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow is a 108-year-old hawker institution that does not compromise on its standards. By insisting heavily on reproducing the same method of cooking processes since its inception in 1911, the much-beloved hawker has since announced its impending closure on 11July 2019 citing manpower issues.
It is currently helmed by its fourth-generation owner, Tina Tan. In an open letter addressed to fans of the stall, Tina explicitly detailed the causes for its closure and wishes for only support during this final lap of operations.
Its kway teow dishes are best loved for their dry and soup iterations of the dish. The cooks expertly braise the beef slices to perfect tenderness. The body of the dish lies in the umami beef broth and gravy, simmering over for long hours to produce that distinct savouriness that has resonated with Singaporeans for over 108 years.
Modern times require modern adaptations, and for continuously delivering an authentic, intimate experience into our bowls for 108 years we thank their dedication and undying commitment into ultimately defining what hawker culture truly is.
Dates & Times: Available now till 11 July 2019 | 10am – 8.30pm (Daily)
Chee cheong fun is one of those classic Chinese dishes that is made up of rice noodle flour for carb-loving Asians, and has evolved to include fillings in them too. This is one of my must-orders at any dim sum place.
I have had many chee cheong fun‘s, and I especially like the Hong Kong-style ones. They are thinner and silky smooth, doused in light soy sauce for a light and savoury taste. This is opposed to the local rendition, which is usually thicker and chewier. They are then doused in sesame oil and sweet sauce, for a heavier and richer flavour.
Pin Wei Chee Cheong Fun sells the former kind, to my delight. Located at Pek Kio Market, they aren’t exactly prominent. But when you are there, you can definitely spot their stall based on the snaking queue.
While queuing up, you would be able to watch the owner, Eddy, making the chee cheong fun from scratch. He learnt this skill from his father, who was a hawker as well. They are freshly-made the traditional way.
The rice flour mixture is poured onto a cloth, with ingredients added if necessary. Then, they are covered and steamed, before being placed onto an oiled surface. They are then removed from the cloth and chopped up, before being doused in soy sauce and served.
There were four options at Pin Wei Chee Cheong Fun; the plain, char siew, prawn and scallop. Being in the queue for half an hour, I decided to go with the last three to try out all their filling choices.
The first I sank my teeth in was the Char Siew (S$3.50), which was my favourite variant of them all. I was very impressed by the sheer amount of char siew bits scattered throughout the chee cheong fun.
Majority of the translucent chee cheong fun was studded in red. Albeit it was on the expensive side, the huge serving of chee cheong fun and filling justified its price point.
The first mouthful literally left me speechless and I had to go for another. It was that good. The chee cheong fun itself was silky smooth and glided down my throat with ease. After, the light soy sauce came through with a hint of savouriness, to bring out the mild-flavoured rice sheets. They were so thin and delicate, even after being rolled up into several layers.
The char siew had the iconic smoky sweet flavour but wasn’t too overwhelming. I liked that they were in little morsels so I could still savour the flawless skin of the chee cheong fun. It was also a plus point that the char siew pieces, while tiny, actually stayed snug in the chee cheong fun skin which made it easy to eat too.
I decided to try out the chilli, which I requested on the side. It packed a slight punch, which I felt helped to further alleviate the dimensions of flavour in the chee cheong fun. Sweet, salty and spicy, this was one well-rounded dish.
The Prawn (S$4.50) variant had the same delicate and silky smooth skin. Without the char siew, this was definitely lighter on the palate.
By no means was it less flavourful, as the naturally mild taste of the chee cheong fun and soy sauce stood out more.
There were eight pieces of prawns in this, and they were evenly divided into each chunk of chee cheong fun. This made it easy to scoop up one chunk of chee cheong fun which had a piece of prawn for sure.
The prawn itself was of a decent size, fresh and crunchy. If you prefer something lighter and fresh tasting, this would be the one for you.
We also got the Scallop (S$5.50), which was the most expensive item on the menu. Similarly, the scallops were evenly distributed into each chunk of the chee cheong fun.
In comparison, the eight scallop pieces were smaller in size. This gave less of a bite as compared to the former two, which felt more substantial in terms of the filling. Nonetheless, the scallops were firm enough for a varying texture.
The preparation of these handmade rice rolls from Pin Wei Chee Cheong Fun is no easy task. Standing at the collection counter, I could already feel the heat from inside the stall. With such long and unending queues, I was pretty sure they hardly could catch a break making the chee cheong fun upon order.
In my opinion, they are one of the best chee cheong fun I’ve had. Pek Kio may not be the most accessible location. However, if you are a chee cheong fun lover like me, it is always worth to travel down just for it!
Ondeh-ondeh is a traditional Southeast-Asian snack that is essentially glutinous rice balls filled with gula melaka and coated with coconut flakes. These sweet bites have been gaining popularity in recent food festivals, where people are creating fusion dishes out of this dish.
Ondeh-ondeh ice cream, souffles, pancakes… Now we even have a Tissue Ondeh-Ondeh!Tenderbest Makcik Market at Bedok Point is jumping on the bandwagon of all things ondeh ondeh.
I must admit, Japanese cuisine is my favourite of them all. There was a time in my youth where I had to have it at least once a week. Today, as hard as it is to believe, I regard it as a treat.
Along with changing eating habits, I’ve discovered the irresistible appeal of omakase. And what perfect timing, as I’ve discovered a new Japanese joint, minka, near Tanjong Pagar.
What really drew me in was their Early Bird Omakase for S$38 that’s exclusively available for their 6pm weekday dinner seating.
I suppose you’d have to come up with an excuse to leave work early to enjoy this steal. But hey, for the impeccable food that you’ll be served, it’ll be worth slinking out the door before time’s up.
The place is incredibly cosy, with seats that mainly encircle the counter. Apart from the S$38 set, they also have higher denominations (all for dinner only) of S$68 (Omakase), S$98 (Premium Omakase) and a Chef’s Omakase at S$148.
The Early Bird Omakase is a 12-course offering, made up of two appetisers, a vegetable, six sushi dishes, a sashimi rice bowl, soup of the day and a dessert.
To kick the evening off, try either their Yuzu Highball or Calpis Highball ($10 each), which wasn’t only refreshing, but a great citrusy cleanser for the palate.
What arrived first was a tiny bowl of Walnut With Bonito, a combination I’ve never heard of before. The bonito-coated walnuts were at first confusing, but also satisfyingly savoury.
It was saltier that I would’ve expected, but the rich nuttiness really shone and quickly became a likeable appetiser.
The Onsen Egg With Ikura wasn’t the prettiest belle at the ball, but it hit all the right notes with its truffle shoyu base.
The aromatic truffle was intoxicating, as the unmistakeable saltiness of the ikura pulled the dish together to make it utterly divine. It was a mix of creamy and salty with even a pinch of sweetness that made this dish one of my favourite of the evening.
I’ve never seen anything like this, but the Corn And Potato With Ikura was a surprising combination that really worked. What made the union legitimate was the presence of ikura, which contributed to its saltiness and slippery texture.
I know ‘mushy’ isn’t an appealing manner of describing food, but this literal mishmash of textures really worked in this dish’s favour and created a winning combination.
I asked the sushi chef what type of rice he used, as there was a distinct smokiness about the sushi that evening. I knew it wasn’t from the seafood itself, and it turned out that the brown-tinted sushi rice was a result of the rice being mixed in with bread vinegar after cooking.
The shisho leaf gave off an unmistakable floral fragrance that permeated even after our last chew.
I love a good ol’ blow-torched sushi, which worked extremely well with the Blow-Torched Scallop Sushi, given that the rice had its own smokiness to boot. Its texture was a meeting point between chewy and tender, and it made me eager to wolf down the next sushi.
As if I wasn’t already impressed by the sushi so far, their Japanese Seabream Sushi is laced with truffle oil! The result was a decadent bite that carried clean yet savoury flavours. It was the least impressive of the lot, but still sufficient enough to excite my palate.
The golden eye snapper in this Golden Eye Snapper Sushi has red flesh and is a more expensive cousin of your regular wet market snapper. It supposedly boasts more collagen, which also heightens its demand in the market.
There was a single drop of red Momiji on the fish, which lent a hint of pepperiness to the slick fish. This single bite serving was a lot fishier than the rest and felt much fattier on the palate than I’d anticipated.
I loved their Hamachi Sushi for the potent citrus pepper that crowned this spectacular piece. There was a meld of sour, sweet, tangy and peppery, all fused into a tiny morsel. I couldn’t believe such innocent-looking sushi could conjure such strong profiles.
Trust minka to put a fun twist on a classic. The Tuna With Yuzu Zest Sushi confused me at first. I knew there was more to this than just plain tuna, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The yuzu spin did very well to cut through the fattiness of the tuna and provided a nice touch of sweetness to this fish.
The carb part arrived soon enough but don’t expect a bowl any bigger than the size of your palm. The Sushi Rice Bowl basically was like a summary of all the sushi we’d just eaten, so it was nothing spectacular.
Their Miso Soup is a little different, served with tiny shrimps drifting lazily in a pool of seaweed. The shrimps merely added sweetness but not much robustness, which resulted in a very so-so and rudimentary bowl of miso.
I only enjoy matcha ice cream when it’s incredibly smoky. This one wasn’t. Instead, their token serving of Matcha Ice Cream was watered down and lacking in every way. If they truly insisted on serving a dessert course with this, they would’ve been better off store-bought frozen mochi; I feel that I would’ve had a better finish to my night then.
In spite of the lacklustre end, the S$38 omakase still exceeded my expectations. Sure it wasn’t all bells and whistles, but given the price point, everything was fresh, tasty and actually really satisfying.
I suspect the higher-priced omakase sets would fare even better if their basic tier was already this good. I for one, would readily return and give it a shot.
The durian season this year sure is a bountiful one, which means the prices of durians have become ever-so-appealing.
If you’re like me, and simply cannot have enough of durians, 99 Old Trees has just the treat for you!
Introducing its one-of-a-kind durian omakase called SukaWa (colloquially translated to ‘suka awak‘, meaning ‘up to you’)! It’s happening now until 31 August 2019, from 4.30pm – 5.30pm.
Each session is priced at S$48 per person until 20 June 2019, after which it will be S$60 per person.
This unique durian feast allows them to pick and choose six variants per day, based on what they deem to be the best of the day. This includes a D24 Mousse (S$5 for a la carte) and a young coconut drink to dispel “heatiness”.
Pure D24 flesh is puréed down to a thick and lusciously creamy dessert. Having a spoonful of this definitely got me very excited for the durians to come.
The hour-long session is also meant to educate durian fans about lesser-known breeds, like D18 and 猫眼 (Cat Eye).
The former was firm, with a more orangey hue than I would’ve expected and more pronounced bitterness with a fibrous texture. I would say those who like their XO breed would favour this one as well.
Mao Shan Wang 猫山王
What makes this omakase session even more worth the trip, is the unlimited supply of Mao Shan Wang 猫山王 that diners will get to indulge in at the end, till time’s up!
They are confident of this breed’s supply as they are partners with Fook Gor Durian Farm in Pahang. After all, 99 Old Trees prides itself on serving on the best to all its customers.
What’s more, you’re more than welcome to throw your curious questions to them. They’ll help to bust myths and rumours about durians, as well as educate you on durian harvesting.
This is a durian omakase dining experience you won’t want to miss. Make your reservations now, as seats are very limited; the last we checked, only dates from 29 July 2019 are available!
Dates & Times: Now available until 31 August 2019 (or until durian season is over) | 4.30pm – 5.30pm (please check their site for specific dates)
Prices: S$48 per pax (till 20 June 2019), S$60 per pax (after 20 June 2019)
There is nothing like an elaborate backstory to really get your appetite going. To make your dining experience a little more exciting, Chi Kinjo along Stanley Street plunges you into the world of star-crossed lovers, tangled family affairs and complicated gang relations.
In this tale, Chi Kinjo is not only the name of the restaurant but also the daughter of a powerful yakuza boss. If you’ve been around the area, you’ll know Chi Kinjo’s back story is wonderfully intertwined with joints like Mona and Sum Yi Tai.
I won’t give too much away as of how they are related, because half the fun is finding out for yourself.
The restaurant is where all the action happens, and it’s split into two main parts. Upstairs, you can find modern Japanese bites whereas downstairs is a highball den.
The main dining area was cosy and furnished simply with clean and modern chairs and tables.
The highball den was a lot darker than their main dining area, making it a more intimate setting to sip on a whisky highball and even exchange a few secrets.
We began with the Hamachi Carpaccio (S$16), a rather elegant dish. Beautifully plated, this dish featured thinly-sliced yellowtail sashimi, sprinkled with finely chopped truffles and topped off with a spoonful of ikura pearls.
Truffles have been the go-to garnish in the last few years. This aromatic mushroom definitely helps to elevate any dish. While I appreciate the use of truffle, one has to use it carefully and sparingly, lest it overpowers the dish.
Chi Kinjo wielded this luxury mushroom quite well, and the hamachi was sweet and fresh while the ikura supplied that brininess that we all know and love. A simple and delicious way to start the meal.
Next up, we were served this stunner — the Salmon Ceviche (S$18). A play on the Latin American dish, this ceviche had cubed salmon, swordfish and avocado drizzled with yuzu juice, rice vinegar and a little dollop of wasabi. A real feast for the eyes: there were even a couple of edible flowers in the ceviche.
This was accompanied by a stack of Chi Kinjo’s homemade prawn crackers.
I spooned a generous dollop of the ceviche on to the cracker and just went for it. The prawn cracker was crispy and rich with that crustacean goodness while the ceviche was light and fresh.
The prawn cracker served as a good contrast to the ceviche, making each mouthful rather scrumptious. An ingenious twist on ceviche, this is a definite must-order.
A good test of any Japanese restaurant is how they handle their sushi. You have to agree sushi is synonymous with Japanese cuisine and notoriously difficult to perfect. All the elements have to be balanced and work in harmony with each other.
That being said, I was pretty excited to try what Chi Kinjo had to offer.
For Chi Kinjo, their nigiri comes in aburi-style which means the fish is torched before being served. I’m quite partial to aburi-style nigiri, as the torching the fish usually intensifies the flavour of the fish.
We tried several of Chi Kinjo’s nigiri, the first being Ika Miso Aburi Nigiri (S$12 for two pieces). As with most of Chi Kinjo’s dishes, they are always trying to push that creative envelope. This dish had seared squid topped with mustard seeds, shiso and miso paste.
The mustard seeds were an unconventional ingredient, but one that I liked. They added great texture and made an otherwise rather pedestrian Ika nigiri more interesting.
Another notable nigiri was the Salmon & Foie Gras (S$12 for two pieces). This is no ordinary aburi salmon sushi, as Chef Lamley of Chi Kinjo marinated the foie gras in miso and milk to really bring out the fattiness.
The nigiri was utter bliss — the foie gras and salmon melted the moment I popped it in my mouth.
Another delicate creation by Chi Kinjo has to be the Buri Cheese (S$12 for two pieces). The star of this nigiri has to be the seared Buri fish (the highest grade of Japanese Yellowtail), which is topped with tobiko cheese.
The fish tasted sweet and clean, and the quality of fish really shined through. My only gripe was that for such a dainty number, perhaps the tobiko cheese was not really needed.
Still riding that sushi train, we were served the Crouching Tiger Roll (S$20) which was prawn tempura maki with mentai mayonnaise.
As far as makis go, this was pretty good and hit the spot. The prawn tempura was crispy and plump while the mentai mayonnaise supplied that trademark spicy kick.
Don’t get me wrong, this was delicious but nothing exactly groundbreaking in the world of sushi.
After all that sushi, we were served some of Chi Kinjo’s cooked items. To start us off, we had the Kaffir Lime Karaage (S$15). This classic chicken karaage came with a zesty twist and a red pepper dip.
The karaage was crispy and well-seasoned, while the kaffir lime lent a fresh citrusy note to the chicken which I found quite enjoyable. The red pepper dip was creamy and supplied good heat to the chicken karaage.
Similar to the Crouching Tiger Roll, the chicken karaage was nothing to shout about.
Following that, we were presented with the Smoked Striploin Steak (S$28). Truly, this had to be pièce de résistance of the night. The grass-fed Australian Striploin was meticulously prepared to ensure each square was tender to a fault.
Chef Lamley first pan sears the beef to get those caramelised edges and seal in all that goodness. He then finished this glorious piece of meat in the oven.
All that extensive preparation certainly pays off, and each slab of beef was buttery and flavourful. I paired it with the accompanying black garlic onion cream reduction and sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) chips.
Each mouthful was indulgent and highlighted each element with confidence and finesse. Before I knew it, we were licking the plate clean.
Chi Kinjo presents an interesting premise; who doesn’t relish a little tale of forbidden love as you nibble on delectable sushi creations?
There were certain misses with Chi Kinjo’s menu, however, there were just enough notable dishes to warrant a second visit. A cosy and fun little joint to usher in the weekend for sure!