Monday, June 28, 2010


This is the last post that I would be writing physically in Singapore.  Looking back 4 1/2 years ago when I moved to SG, I wasn't even sure if I can survive living away from mom and dad. I remember, that I was telling myself that I would be back in the Philippines after a year of stay in SG.  Time flew fast, and I've visited Philippines several times, but I've stayed put for almost 5 amazing years in this lovely country. 

And what made my life in SG interesting...were my friends who have:

shared cups of coffee,
    indulged in slices of cakes,
          slurped chili crabs,
               enjoyed canteen lunches
                      ate plates of chicken rice,
                                     loved hokkien mee,
                                         dipped naan in curries,
                                                      divided a pizza plate,
                                                                   sliced fillet mignon,
                                                                            gorged on burgers,
                                                                              circled a fork for pasta,
                                                                                     sipped hot bak kut teh,
                                                                                              sizzled by sambal kangkong
                                                                                                       took pictures and talk about food...

while sharing stories and laughters with yours truly.

As we bid goodbye, Singapore will always be a part of me and hubby...the place of birth of the

'till then!

*some photos are taken by my group of know who you are...*wink*

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time-Out: Pasay, Manila -> HongKong Master Chef (Dampa @ Macapagal)

This is a place where we would be everytime we are in Manila.  Hubby always look forward to going to Dampa, literally, it means 'shore' but Manila connotes this as 'seafood market'.  The eve of our wedding, we brought our Dutch friends (about 20 of them) to this not posh, cheap but definitely good and delicious food market.  Glad that they liked it and have been raving about it until now.

It was Father's Day.  It started when we were driving towards the seafood place.  The parking lot was not cemented and looked like only a 4-wheel drive can manage...but luckily, we managed to get a spot in the shrubby parking place. 

The market is at the center surrounded by more than 10 restaurants.  We were a bit harrassed as everyone was chasing us to dine at their restaurant.  It's like those guys at Lau Pa Sat, following, chasing and convincing you to get their satay or seafood.  Nevertheless, we were still very excited and walk through the wet market.

Almost all items in the market were seafood.  They do have some stalls selling fruits, veggies, etc

The seafood prices are quite the same or even lesser than going to the normal markets.  Bargaining skills would be a plus to get a few peso less or maybe freebies. :)

After buying all we need, we walked towards Hong Kong Master Chef carrying our seafoods. (one of the restaurants around, and my family's favorite -> they said the executive chef is from HK).

First, market items were weighed.  This determined the cooking charge (by the kilo).  What i love about this place is the flexibility and catering to individual's taste.  For example, we bought 3 kilos of prawns, we advised them to do 1 1/2 kilo as tempura and the remaining as steamed garlic.  Same for crabs, squids, fish, etc.

Finally, what we had that day...

fresh from the market, our CALAMARI.  I love this even without the sauce.  They made it very tasty and not so oily.  The squids were cooked just right, giving it just enough bite without becomming chewy. 

Singapore Chili Crab - not a hint of spiciness.  Though, the small crabs were fresh and sweet.  (hubby and I are used to king crabs served in SG).  I think i'll stick to the fried crabs with garlic next time.

Tempura - It was good, except the breading was not authentic.  Still, i had 7 pieces of it.  whew!

Steamed Prawns with Garlic, garlic and...more garlic - this has been my all-time favorite.  I just love how the juice of the prawns come out naturally and how the garlic balanced off the fishy taste.  Though, this time we have to return it as some of the pieces were half-cooked (it was Father's day so they were a bit in a rush, i guess)

Steamed Grouper in soy sauce - We kinda murdered the fishes before we remember to take pictures.  We got 3 fat ones and burp, we were very satisfied.

My dad enjoyed this feast during his special day...and so do we! 

Price Summary (estimated in SGD)
4 kilos of female crab ( 8 pcs)
2 1/2 kilos prawns
1 kilo squid
1 1/2 kilos grouper         = ~ $63
Cooking charge (incl. Tax and SC) = $75
TOTAL : $138 (10 diners) => good value for money

Dampa @ Macapagal Avenue
Seaside Market, Macapagal Ave
Pasay City, Philippines

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quezon City, Philippines -> Romulo Cafe

My university best friends are fond of dining out and eating just like me (Birds of the same feather flock together, of course).  Being away from my hometown made me wanted to check out eating  places serving good Filipino food and good dining experience.  My best friends are experts on this aspect so it was not difficult to decide where to meet up.

Hubby and I trotted our way to Tomas Morato.  For those of you who are not familiar with the place, it is a long stretch of restaurants, cafes and bars in Quezon City, the biggest city in Metro Manila, Philippines. 

As unique as it is, Romulo Cafe is situated in the same area but not in the said stretch.  We went inside small streets, mainly residential which made me wonder if we're still going to the right place, until, we saw one beaming light written 'Romulo Cafe' at the corner of Scout Tuazon and Dr. Lazcano Street, we were both relieved that we found it.

Without the big light, the place looks like a big house.  My friends told me that it was a residential home being rented by the Romulo's family, who's running the said restaurant, to showcase Filipino food at its finest.

A bit of a history, Carlos Romulo was an active politician serving 8 presidents (from 1930's till the 80's)*

The moment we entered the place, outdoor seats as well as bar type tables were available for waiting.  It looked nice dining outside, but with the extreme heat plus, my friend was wise enough to make a reservation inside, we were escorted by one of the waiters to our table in an air-conditioned room.

love the minimalist interior and relaxing ambiance

showcasing family heritage and contribution to Philippines

It was Wednesday night, and I didn't expect a lot of Filipinos are already dining out in the middle of the week (usually it starts on a Friday).  The place was very crowded with big groups per table, eating and chatting at the same time.

A one-page menu was given out to us, which is unusual for me, as I'm used to having several pages of menu when dining out in the metro.  Thus, it was not difficult to choose what to order.

For starters, we had...

Cheese with Vigan Longganisa Dumpling (5/5)  - Longganisa is the Philippine version of chorizo sausage, with distinctive sweetness of cured meat (usually pork).  Vigan, a city at the Northern part of the Philippines, gave this sausage its unique oomph, by curing the meat with vinegar.  The cheese in this dumpling balanced off the sourness and sweetness, giving its perfection.  They provide homemade vinegar dip if it's too oily for your taste.

Monggo Soup (4/5) - green bean soup with Malunggay (moringa or sajina) leaves.  Their version was with small shrimps and crispy pork skin.  This is my favorite and the dish that I always request from mom everytime I go back home (our version is with smoked milkfish). 

Bistek Tagalog (3/5) - Philippine's beef steak, Romulo uses beef tenderloin in this dish making the meat soft and tender.  It was delicious though hubby prefers my cooking, as I would marinating it with calamansi (lime), giving its tangy twist.

Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno (4/5) - Romulo's family recipe now available for every Filipino's palette.  Relleno is spanish-inspired, where meat (chicken, fish, etc) is stuffed with minced meat (usually pork), raisins, chorizos and peas.  The stuffed chicken pieces were extensively done and delicious.  This is one proof how Filipinos love their pork *wink*

Boneless Crispy Pata Binagoongan (3/5) - Pork knuckles with shrimp paste.  This is another unique offering of Romulo's as Filipinos are used to dipping pork knuckles meat in soy sauce.  Though, shrimp paste is not unique to us, as we have several dishes where the said paste plays a big part.  The dried bagoong (shrimp paste) was giving the taste to the meat, therefore, the pork alone was quite bland.  I prefer the good old version of making the pork knuckles tasty and dipping it in a light soy sauce.  Plus, there's not much meat only fats (which is subjective, as some Filipinos prefer more fats)

As true blue Filipino, we cannot skip rice with all this yummy dishes. (we had a big plate of it...sorry no pictures...i was a bit hungry then :D)

Cool as a Cucumber (5/5) - a mojito mocktail, this refreshing drink was made up of cucumber (with fresh slices), lime and mint leaves making this an all-time favorite among the diners.

It was a great dining night.  Though, service was not that good as the house was consist of several rooms and they had a few large groups, making it difficult for the waiters to attend to all the other diners.  I do believe that the waiters were doing their best, its just that the place needs more of them.

Price Summary (estimated in SGD)
Cheese & Vigan Longganisa Dumpling = ~$3-$4
Monggo Soup (green bean) = ~$3-$4 (serves 5)
Chicken Relleno = ~$20 (1/2 chicken)
Crispy Pata (pork knuckles) = ~$20 (1 pc - serves 5-6)
Rice ranges from $1-2 per serving
Drinks = $3 - $4
*12% VAT and 10% Svc Charge apply

Romulo Cafe
32 Scout Tuazon
cor. Dr. Lazcano
Tomas Morato, Quezon City
+632 332-7275
reservation is recommended

*Information from Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Irvin's: handsome cze char in SG

Eating is such a wonderful hobby.  It is better enjoyed when I shared the said hobby with my hubby.  And it is at its best when we extend it to our buddies. 

An all-time friend and eating partner of HT couple, Lis has recommended Irvin's for a very long time.  We just didn't get the chance of trying it out as our other friend, Maj, always invite us to a no-frills but restaurant quality home-cooked food (still can't forget the tacos...yum).  Until, a very close friend, Cin, visited Singapore which lead us to an opportunity of visiting Irvin's.

Smacked at the corner of River Valley and Zion Road, this place is pretty good if you want to get away withe the bustling Orchard. 

Irvin's is known for it's salted egg crab.  I only had this type of crab once, somewhere in Ghim Moh Rd (I forgot the name of the place) which was pretty good so I can't wait to check out Irvin's version. 

Without further delay...

what we've been waiting for...

Salted Egg Crab (3.75/5) - HT couple is not used to seeing a crab swimming in a yellow sauce.  We ordered 1 small crab, 4 of us to share, and just to try it first, since hubby is not fond of eating eggs per se and our visitor might find it a bit strange.  Surprisingly, everyone loved it.  We licked our hands and crab shells to make sure there are no traces of sauce left.  I scooped the sauce and placed it on top of my rice and enjoyed every mouthful of it.  Though, i think the crab was quite overcooked and a bit watery making it difficult to eat as the meat were sticking to its shell.  Nevertheless, this was such a good value for money if you wanted to take a break from your usual chili crab just like us.

Black Pepper Crab - hubby believes one of his missions is to try all the black pepper crabs around the island that's why he was given opportunities to stay in Singapore (aside from meeting his long time partner *wink*).  The black pepper version of Irvin's is quite different as we're used to the dry type.  This was a bit moist like Eng Seng, but oily and veeeeerrrry spicy.  And I think it was too salty for my taste too.  But hubby contradicted me and said he haven't had this tasteful black pepper crab in his quest.  The ample curry leaves add a distinct variety to the usual black pepper crab.So for now, this is his #1. 

Claypot Pumpkin Prawns (4/5) - I always love items in claypots.  With my grandma's lovely cooking, I always thought of dishes cooked in claypots are always yummy and more savory.  And this tough claypot dish didn't disappoint us.  The prawns were soaked in a claypot full of pumpkin (sauce/soup).  The sweetness of pumpkin with some curry leaves complemented well enough and gave those small prawns its kick.

Yang Zhou Fried Rice (2/5) - Nothing special...just oily rice with shrimp bits.

Special Pork Ribs (3.75/5) - The sauce was so delicious.  We asked the waiter what do they use and they said its Irvin's little secret.  The outer most of each meat was fried and crunchy but they were able to maintain the tenderness of it. 

It was such a lovely night with good food, good companions and good service.  I would say dining at Irvin's was a value for money.  Just to share my experience, I called up for reservation, and I was welcomed enthusiatically by the one who answered the phone.  The waiter was such a dear as well, giving suggestions to suit for everyone. 

Though, i forgot to order beef hor fun *sniff*

Price Summary (SGD)
Black pepper (kg) = $18
Salted Egg (kg) = $22
Pumpkin Prawns (small) = $12
Yang Zhou (small) = $8
drinks @ $1.50 ea
wet towels @ $0.30 ea
NO GST and Svc Chg

Irvin's Seafood Cze Czar
397 River Valley Rd
opens daily: 11 am - 1 am

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dome Cafe

My twin sister and I patronize Dome Cafe in the Philippines.  We love spending a lazy quiet afternoon while having good cups of coffee, delish sandwiches and chit chat until we get tired without noticing the number of hours hanging out in the same place. 

As loyalists of Food for Thought and Kopitiam at Bras Basah, we never thought of dropping by at Dome Cafe at the Singapore Arts Museum.  Until, we got a 1-for-1 pizza/pasta coupon from a credit card company, Hubby and I decided to stop by.  (we're always on-the-go for any promotions :D)

It was a hot sunny Sunday after church so this was the best time to experience Dome (just 50 steps away).  It was surprising how busy it was.  There were a lot of Ang moh families having their brunch.  So we were lucky to secure a two-seater table.

I based my order with the pictures in the menu as first timer.  (plus, the pasta picture looked very enticing).

Seafood Tomato (3.75/5) - in the menu, they gave 3 kinds of pasta for you to choose from.  I was so excited to get the squid ink linguine, unfortunately, i was only given by the waitress 2 options: penne or spaghetti. (maybe because it was a promotion or maybe they run out of it: I didn't really came to know what was the reason, as the waitress was pretty grumpy that time: I guess, too much work on an Sunday morning) And so,  I chose penne to go with the seafoods in my plate.  The pasta was actually very tasty.  There were lots of garlic spread all over that gave the pasta its aroma.  The tomato sauce were made from fresh tomatoes, not from cans, that shared its tanginess to the dish.  There was a fair share of squid, shrimps and fish slices that made me enjoyed my lunch.

Pepperoni Pizza (2.75/5) - We didn't expect so much of the pizza.  It came a bit late and was overcooked.  The pizza dough was like foccacia which was ok.  The pepperoni were burnt but I kinda like its crispiness.  The good thing about this pizza was the smothered mozzarella on top.

Macchiato (3.75/5) - When a full glass of Ikea in a glass holder was placed on our table, we had doubts if it  was a macchiato.  Macchiato for HT couple is a coffee shot with lots of foam, but Dome's version was drowned with milk.  Then we came to know this is the Singapore style of drinking macchiato as per the waiter ( correct me if i'm wrong guys.Looks more like a latte to us).  Surprisingly, even if there was a lot of milk, the aromatic caffeine stood out.

The service was a bit of disappointment as the staff can't keep up with the numerous customers.  Overall, it was ok. 

Price Summary (SGD)
Seafood Tomato : $13.50
Pepperoni Pizza: $12
Macchiato: 5.50
GST and SC apply

Dome Cafe
Singapore Arts Museum
(Queen Street side)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Morton's The Steakhouse: a dinner to remember

Leaving Singapore soon gave HT couple a reason to enjoy often, the wonderful eating places of Singapore.  For fine dining, Morton's has been the talk of the town for years but it was never a part of our list to dine.  Until recently, we had the reason to spend and celebrate...

Reservation at Morton's is quite convenient and easy.  You can go mobile or do a few clicks online.  I did the online reservation and the available timings for the date of my choice were shown on the screen.  I was able to plan wisely so hubby and I would have a perfect night.  Its famosity encourages diners to do an early reservation especially for 7 pm or 730 pm slot.  (I did my reservation 2 weeks before the date).

The moment we enter the place, we were welcomed warmly.  The place was pretty dark and the lamps gave brightness to the place.  There were no windows but it was not claustrophobic.  We were accompanied to our table by our wonderful waitress, April (she's a Filipina too)!

She let us settled down, gave us time to browse the menu and informed us that she would be back to introduce Morton's menu for the night. (exciting!)

Surprisingly, it's not the normal introduction of just memorizing the menu, and understanding each component of the dish...I was amazed when a cart came containing the huge items i've never seen before.

i don't think lobstie liked being shown around while he's tied up. :)
Yes, even onions and asparagus were big!
a shot from afar by hubby, showing how we should know every ingredients that goes to our plates and our tummies.

During the reservation, i already informed them that we are having the Steak & Seafood Menu.  95 SGD per person without drinks and dessert. It was quite expensive but looking into the details of the items that were part of this menu, it was really worthwhile.

complimentary: we got this enormous onion loaf which was very savory and addictive.  Softie on the inside but a toughie outside.  We tried to control ourselves from indulging it as we might get too full.  I saw another table had theirs packed in a brown bag.  As for ours, we managed to wipe it out.

For our first course:

We chose Morton's Salad (4/5).  HT couple love bleu cheese plus hubby likes anchovies so it was a perfect combination.  The cheese was not too strong, just light and gave the greens its taste.  An anchovy strip was added to break the taste especially for people who get overwhelm easily with strong cheeses. 

For second course:

Single Cut Fillet (5/5) - The steak comes with bearnaise but we didn't bother using it.  The meat was succulent.  There's no hint of salt nor pepper on the steak but it was able to provide that meaty richness taste.  HT couple believes that good quality steak doesn't need to be cooked with a lot of seasoning and can be eaten alone without being bland.  And this falls into that description.

 The menu comes with a decent size of Lump Crab Cake (5/5).  Hubby divided the piece and shared half to me.  The crab cake was lovely as its made up of big chunks of crab meat fillet.  It's like eating a crab leg without having the fuss of breaking the shell.  The sweetness and juiciness of the crustacaean meat was unforgettable.  Hubby wouldn't mind having another piece :).

We had gigantic grilled asparagus(4/5) as our side dish.  You can opt for potatoes if you want some carbs to go with your protein. (sorry, no pictures, i was smart not to charge my camera battery hihihi)

Since we were having such a fun night and this would be our first and last to dine at Morton's before we permanently leave SG, we maximize it by ordering:

Morton's Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream (5/5) - it was indeed legendary!  The best we ever had!

Oozing rich, strong, chocolate once we dig in from the inside.  The sponge cake, topped with numerous raspberries was moist and soft.  We totally forgot we're not supposed to eat sweets as HT couple is supposed to be on a diet (which never happens).  But with sweets like this, diet doesn't ring a bell anymore.

They added a candle with our cake to wish us good luck with our new life outside Singapore.  (how sweet).

 It was wonderful of April to inform us that the serving for the steak and seafood combo was really huge and she suggested we only get one for me and hubby to share. She even gave us the option to upgrade our steak from single cut to double cut for additional 15 dollars so we can have the normal serving for mains. From 190 sgd to 110 sgd for 2 pax, looking at hubby's eyes, yes, we definitely go for sharing. 

There are a few restaurants that take into account the contentment and enjoyment of the diners.  Having good food, good service, surrounded by lovely people, giving the diners' money worth...I do agree that Morton's is still the #1 best restaurants in Singapore (as per the tripadvisor).

I highly recommend this place for a romantic and hassle-free evening.

Price Summary (SGD)
Steak and Seafood Combo = 95 sgd per head
*can share with your loved ones with a steak upzise = 55 sgd per head (not bad!)
Morton's Hot Chocolate Cake = 25 sgd (expensive but worth it)
*Wine selection is quite expensive (half bottles are available)

GST and SvcCharge apply

Morton's The Steakhouse
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
4th Storey, Raffles Ave.
Mon-Sat: 5 pm - 11 pm
Sun: 5 pm - 10 pm

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bombay Cafe: the taste of Indian vegetarian dining

It was my last day with my old employer.  With the mixed emotions of leaving and getting out of that career comfort zone, it was nice of my team to treat me out for a farewell and good luck lunch.

Since i was the only non-Indian in the team and not very particular with the cuisine as long as its good, i'm up for it.  We went to this cafe tucked in Tanjong Katong Road, where a vegetarian dining experience awaits.

The ambiance was very girly.  First glance, pink stood out despite of the black combination with it.

like the wall of fame of bollywood stars

For starters:

Dahi Sev Puri (4/5) - light, puffed, crispy savories with assorted coarse wheat fillings and chutney topped with yogurt.  It had a nice sweet & sour taste, but if you eat it like a princess (with small bites), then you end up with a mess.  They taught me to put the whole thing inside your mouth to wake up your taste buds.  I'm not a fan of yogurt in dishes, but this one worked well for me.

I didn't mind the mess, there goes the oozing chutney & yogurt

Gobhi Manchurian (3.5/5) - cauliflower cooked in garlic, onions, ginger and coriander.  I find this version a bit oily but the aroma was exquisite (smell sooo good).  A different side of an indian dish as the taste was not so distinctive so it's good for those who wanted a bit mild.  (trivia: do you know this was originally a chinese dish but now more famous  for Indian-Chinese fusion?) It's cooked in a different way and I prefer my gobhi swimming in its sauce than the dry type.  But, it's just a preference.

Vegetable Shammi Kebab (3/5) - filled with mixed veggies, potatoes, lentils, breaded and deep fried.  It was just ok plus i'm starting to get full (this was on the heavy side), and we were just ending our starters!

For main course, we ordered their:

Assorted Bread Basket (3.75/5) - we were allowed to choose 4 types of bread, and we had kulcha, 2 types of naan and roti.  Kulcha was my least like, as i think it's too sweet so i just stick with my all-time favorite naan, which was soft and fresh.  I love naans and wouldn't mind having a lot of it, if it doesn't add any inch to my waistline. :D

 Paneer Butter Masala (3.5/5) - love the thickness of the tasty tomato and butter gravy.  Butter Masala is a must have for me whenever I go for indian food.  The uniqueness of this from my usual indian gravy was the paneer (cottage cheese).  It complemented well with the butter gravy, but after some time, i got tired of eating it, which was the usual effect when i had too much dairy in one go.  I'll stick to my butter chicken or palak panneer next time... here.
Yellow Daal (3.8/5) - i've been eating indian food but daal had never been part of those meal.  I just find it a bit boring, and eating bread with saucy beans just doesn't work for me except for red bean pau hihi.  But since being in an indian vegetarian, i guess, i don't have any choice but to dig in.  And surprisingly, it was nice.  The sauce was sweet and with exotic spicy taste.  I didn't expect that this bowl of beans would make wonders with my naan.  Slurp slurp...lick lick my was yummy!

To wash off those food down...i had masala tea(3/5) - with ginger, cardamom and mint leaves and a lot of milk (the indian way).   I prefer just fresh tea, but i don't mind having it the indian way once in a while.

I didn't know bidding farewell will be this good!  And the best thing about it is, your ex-colleagues become your friends.

Bombay Cafe
334 Tanjong Katong Road
Opens Daily: 11 am - 2:45 pm
                       6 pm - 10:15 pm