Tender Pork Chops!

There are times when you head out for Western food and you find that the pork chops are either overcooked, lacking in flavour, too thin or worse, undercooked. However, one of the methods that will ensure a tender chop is brining. Brining is to treat food with a salt solution for a period of time before consuming or cooking them. Salt + water is the foundation of the brining solution, but the solution can be flavoured with various spices as well as fruit.

I made these chops a while back. The recipe is posted on Instagram but I figured that I type it out proper on my site so that it is easier to refer to!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • A few garlic cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Herbs of your choice (Sage and Rosemary works best, IMO)
  • Lemon zest (I have not tried orange zest but I believe it will work well too.)

Steps:

  1. Heat up 1 cup of water (don’t let it boil), and add the salt to dissolve.
  2. Add the flavouring of your choice. In my case, I added lemon zest, garlic cloves, peppercorns, rosemary, and star anise.
  3. Pour in the rest of the water and let the herbs and spices infuse.
  4. Once the water has cooled down a bit, pour it over the pork chops in a large bowl.
  5. Cover with foil and let it sit in the fridge. I brined my pork chops for a good 6 hours.
  6. Pan-fry them for 3-3.5 minutes per side.
  7. Results are shown below 🙂

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Brining is not limited to pork chops. You can brine a whole chicken/turkey for a few hours before you roast it to ensure a succulent bird. Chicken breast can be a nasty cut of meat as it tends to dry up if not cooked properly thus brining is a good method.

Try it!

Croissant [Bread] & Butter Pudding!

Yes it’s the festive season. Yes it’s nearing the end of 2017. Yes it’s Christmas!

(Well, 2 days ago it was)

I’ve always told my friends that baking wasn’t my thing, and that cooking is much more flexible as you can taste and season your food as you go along. I wasn’t a big fan of measuring ingredients e.g. 50g of butter, 200g of flour etc. Then I realized baking isn’t that tough after making this dish!

Bread and butter pudding is a pudding that is very popular in British cuisine. The concept is to layer slices of buttered bread, scattered with raisins, into an oven dish. A custard made by mixing eggs, cream, sugar and milk, normally seasoned with nutmeg as well as vanilla, is poured over the bread mixture. It is then baked and served with custard or cream.

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I’ve adapted my version from Nigella Lawson’s Bread & Butter Pudding Recipe. Instead of using bread, I’ve opted for croissants as these are packed with butter which will give me a crisp exterior. Oh! Serve with vanilla ice-cream!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 cup milk (do not use low fat)
1 cup cream
(1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
(Nutmeg)
5 – 6 croissants
50g butter
A handful of raisins

Steps:

  1. Slice the croissants and toast them until slightly crisp. Once the croissant slices are done, tip them into a oven dish along with the raisins.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356 F).
  3. Mix the eggs, milk, cream, sugar into a large bowl.
  4. Melt the butter over low heat and pour it into the milk mixture while whisking.
  5. Pour the mixture into the croissant-filled oven dish.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Some things to take note of:

  • Vanilla extract and ground nutmeg was not used as I did not have time to get it but these are the must-use ingredients as it really lifts the flavour of the entire pudding.
  • This recipe can be adjusted if you have more people coming for a party e.g. more croissants, eggs, cream etc.
  • Raisins can be soaked in Marsala (like what Nigella did) or rum!
  • Instead of raisins, you can use bananas.
  • Addictive

Kok Sen Restaurant

Is good food worth queuing for? I would think so! Kok Sen Restaurant has probably become a possible favourite zi char restaurant for me! Keong Saik Road was a known red-light district in the early days but it has transformed into a bustling street of great cafes and restaurants as well. Kok Sen was recommended by my classmate so the few of us decided on this place for dinner.

According to Daniel’s Food Diary, they were listed in the Singapore Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016 and 2017! He also mentioned that queues and waiting times were getting longer too. But yes, if it is so highly recommended, I must try it too!

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Queues start on the outside of the restaurant, towards the right. Staff will ask the standard question of “How many people are there in your group?”. Be prepared to share a table with other diners and I believe they are doing that so as to reduce the waiting time.

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Packed even on a Tuesday night!

We had the Braised Ribs with Bittergourd in Black Bean Sauce which was amazing. The meat was tender from the long braising, and the harshness of the bittergourd was mellowed because of the rich but flavourful sauce.

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A must-have would be their Claypot Yong Tau Foo. You’ll be able to spot your friendly vegetables: Eggplant, beancurd, and chilli. Their filling is a mixture of fish and prawn paste, and it had a rustic charm to it because it was not pounded to a fine paste like other Yong Tau Foos. Oh one more thing, it’s served bubbling hot!

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And who can ever forget the usual Kangkong? I’m a fan of both the Sambal Kangkong and the normal (清炒) version that is fried with garlic. It was good, but there was a slight absence of the familiar wok hei you can taste whenever you order this dish.

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Finally the last dish: Kung Bao Frogs’ Legs! It is a spicy stir-fried Chinese dish that is normally made with chicken as many people know it by its Chinese name: 宫保鸡丁 (Gong Bao Chicken). Meat was tender, no doubt about it. The slightly charred dried chilli gave this dish a smokey aroma and a nice kick to it.

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Address:
30 Keong Saik Rd
Singapore 089137

Nearest MRT:
Outram Park MRT Station (EW16)

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 12:00PM – 2:00PM, 5:00PM – 11:00PM

Sandwich Saigon

Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures and food, and Vietnamese cuisine is one that I don’t get tired of. It’s not difficult to find Vietnamese food on this island. However, finding good ones is a different story. You’ll find this small shop along the stretch of East Coast Road opposite 112 Katong.

It’s not a huge restaurant so take note if you intend to come here with a big group of people. Seats are out at the front, and you place your orders using a menu sheet before paying at the back.

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I chose the Pho Dac Biet (Beef Pho Special), which had sliced sirloin, brisket, and beef balls. On the other hand, my friend chose their Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup). Both pho dishes came with beansprouts (you can ask for more), basil, and lime. They are generous with their ingredients so if you want more vegetables you can request for more at no charge. Broth was light but flavourful! It was quite reminiscent of the bowls of pho I had when I was in Vietnam for two weeks for an overseas community service project. The slices of beef were allowed to poach ever so gently in their hot broth so that it cooks perfectly.

I would suggest trying the broth without adding anything so that you can taste the actual flavour. They serve Sriracha Chilli at their tables so add as much or as little as you wish and be informed that it is much spicier than the Srirachas that you normally get at supermarkets.

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Also, how could anyone resist the spring rolls? We ordered the prawn spring rolls – containing prawn (of course), thick rice noodles, shallots, mint, and basil leaves – accompanied by a sweet sauce that goes well with the roll.

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So if you’re walking along East Coast Road or somewhere in Katong, check this place out! And, if you’re craving for dessert after dinner, head over to Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique!

Address:
93 East Coast Rd,
Singapore 428792

Nearest MRT:
Dakota MRT Station (CC8)
Take bus 10/32 and stop opposite Roxy Square.

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 11:30AM – 3:30PM, 5:30PM – 11:00PM

The Gogi – Korean BBQ @ Alexandra Central Mall

Gogi (고기) means “meat” in Korean and that was what took centre stage at The Gogi, a Korean BBQ restaurant on the third floor of Alexandra Central Mall, a relatively new mall that sits right next to IKEA Alexandra. It’s difficult to miss as it stands out with its uniquely curved design!

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When you’re at the entrance of the restaurant, you’ll notice that the interior has striking similarities to those in Korea. Suction vents stretching down from the ceiling to the BBQ grill, small round tables with round seats that have removable tops which allows the storage of belongings, and of course the friendly “안녕하세요” (Annyeonghasaeyo) from the staff!

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We were shown to our table by the friendly lady boss, who promptly laid down 5 menus for us. Within minutes, the banchan (반찬), or side dishes, came. Mung bean sprouts with lettuce, fishcakes, kimchi, pickled radish, and a marinated cold tofu. The variety was quite limited, but they were indeed very enjoyable.

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The grill is a combination of charcoal and a gas burner – the gas burner starts the fire which in turn lights up the charcoal till it’s red-hot and ready for the grill plate.

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The grill consists of 4 wells, two short ones for garlic, and the longer ones for beaten egg.

For Korean BBQ, you have a choice of 6 sets (A – E) or the a la carte menu. We chose Set D (S$119) which consisted of Sirloin, Prime Ribs, Marinated Beef, Seasoned Pork, and a choice of either Kimchi Jjigae OR Doenjang Jjigae. For the Kimchi Jjigae we added ramen for an additional cost of approximately $5. It was a warm, hearty, and spicy dish – satisfaction in a pot.

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Kimchi Jjigae with and added side of ramen in it.

How can anyone forget Kimchi Pancake? This restaurant serves one that is thick but still retains its crispy exterior. Did I mention it is Kimchi Pancake with Pork? Truly delectable and flavoursome. The dipping sauce had vinegar in it but it was not intrusive, well-balanced with soy sauce and the aroma of sesame oil.

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Prime Beef Ribs

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Premium Sirloin

If you’re done with furniture shopping at IKEA, or hungry after a couple of hours at Queensway Shopping Centre, head over to The Gogi at Alexandra Central Mall for an overdose of meat and a few drinks!

Address:
321 Alexandra Road, #03-01,
Alexandra Central, Singapore 159971

Nearest MRT:
Queenstown MRT Station (EW19)
Redhill MRT Station (EW18)

The mall is next to IKEA Alexandra and diagonally opposite Anchorpoint.

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Saturdays: 11:30AM – 3PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM
Sundays: 5:30 – 10:00PM

Chinatown Eats!

One thing I love about Chinatown is the sights, sounds, and of course the smell of good food! The best part of heading to People’s Park Complex Food Centre is that it’s really convenient as the entrance to the MRT Station is right next it! Once you’re out of the station, you’ll be able to see the food centre almost immediately. You are spoilt for choice once you’re in there but I’m proud to say that I’ve got my two favourite stalls (FOR NOW).

With a rich history of at least 60 years, Tian Jin Fong Kee has been operating since the late 1940s till this very day. One of their star dishes would be their dumplings. You can have it either boiled or fried, though I would very much prefer the latter, with an ice-cold beer. The dumplings are made by hand, from the dough to the filling.

When pan fried, these dumplings have a crisp exterior, and an interior that is so juicy. But be careful when you bite into it as the meat juices might squirt out! My way to eat it is to dip it in vinegar, drape some julienned ginger over the dumpling and the whole thing goes into your mouth. At $6 for 10 dumplings, it is a pretty good deal!

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On the other hand, if you’re quite adventurous and a lover of spicy food, you might want to try out Mala Xiangguo (麻辣香锅), also known as “spicy numbing stir-fry pot”. In one bowl, you get a plethora of ingredients which would include different types of meat, offal, and a whole lot of vegetables, cooked in a spicy broth. Your dish can be customized to your liking, namely: the spiciness level, and dry/soupy. You can also ask them to make it less numbing for your mouth if you wish.

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The soupy version as shown below. You might find it too oily, so you can always skim the oil off if you’re itching for some soup.

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The dry one is as good. However, as the sauce has reduced by quite a fair bit, the flavours tend to concentrate and it could become a little salty for our palates.

Some of my mandatory ingredients to go into this are: Napa cabbage, beef, pork, tripe, lotus roots, oyster mushrooms, kangkong (aka water spinach), and luncheon meat. I’ve got friends and colleagues that are big fans of processed meat, and yes, they have it! Sausages, luncheon meat, mock crab meat etc.

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Don’t really eat spicy food? Don’t worry, you can start off with the lowest level, and you can request for the dish not to be numb, which means they’ll lay off the Szechuan pepper corns. But it’s a dish that I would recommend to anyone coming here for the first time!

Address:
32 New Market Road
Singapore 050032

Nearest MRT:
Chinatown MRT Station (NE4/DT19)
Exit C

Chibing Korean Restaurant

I must say I’m pretty happy with my workplace as it has good food around the area. Chibing Korean Restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, from appetizers, to chimaek sets, stews, pancakes, all the way to bingsu! It does sound like a perfect 3 course dinner. Chibing is ideal for big groups as their portions are pretty sizeable and can feed at least 4 people per portion (e.g. the stir fried chicken set we had). Top up with some side dishes and bingsu and you’ll be filled up by the end of your meal. You can head there for a light lunch (if you don’t want to head back to office with food coma to come), or dinner, where you can enjoy the full ‘3-course’ meal.

Their Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken comes adorned with lots of vegetables, so you will not feel guilty. Cabbages, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and spring onions are lined up side by side with the chicken right in the centre. The pot is heated up to a point where the staff will help you with the frying of the dish. When everything is mixed well, you can start eating.

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Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken

YES you can add rice when you have cleared most of the chicken dish and YES you can definitely request for cheese to be added. Mix everything together and you’ve got a well seasoned rice with gooey bits of cheese hiding inside.

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Thick Slices of Pork Belly

Chibing does not only have a la carte dishes to offer, but they have their Unlimited BBQ promotion which is about S$20++ for adults and S$10++ for children. For that price you will get unlimited pork belly (pretty thick slices as well), free flow of side dishes, soy bean paste stew (Doenjang-jjigae), rice, and steamed egg. A downside of this promotion is that you have to pay an extra $2 for lettuce and $3 for oyster mushrooms.

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Garlic, Pork Belly, Kimchi

​But I’m sure K-BBQ lovers go there for mainly their meat, and Kimchi is already a free-flow side of vegetables so I don’t think it will be an issue! The lady boss also taught as to place the kimchi towards the end of the grill, where the fat from the pork belly will accumulate and cook the kimchi, giving it added flavour. 3 of us shared 11 strips of pork belly and by the end of the meal we were thoroughly satisfied.

Address:
1 Vista Exchange Green, # 01-43/K4,
The Star Vista Mall, Singapore 138617

Nearest MRT:
Buona Vista MRT Station (EW21/CC22)

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Saturdays: 11:30AM – 10:00PM
Sundays: 11:00AM – 10:00PM

Ayam Penyet

Ayam penyet, which means “smashed fried chicken” in Javanese, is an Indonesian dish consisting of a piece of fried chicken that is smashed on a pestle and mortar to make it softer, and served with sambal, cucumber slices, fried tofu, and tempeh. I’d dare say that ayam penyet is quite a popular dish here in Singapore, with outlets in coffeeshops, malls, and even schools (cue: NUS Science Canteen)! It will definitely be a hit for deep-fried food lovers AND those that love a good sambal.

My previous time at Ayam Penyet Ria was ages ago and it was a hit back then. Fast forward to 2017, it has since opened a number of branches – 2 in Lucky Plaza, and others at Far East Plaza, and Jurong Point.

Lucky Plaza’s Ayam Penyet Ria outlet on the 4th floor was the choice for dinner on a Friday night. Being early is important as within an hour or so, the seats were filled up really quickly – which shows that it is still a favourite!

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General Layout of the Restaurant

I’m quite a skeptical person when it comes to an original outlet having various branches throughout the island as there is a tendency for the quality of the food to deteriorate through the years. However, the food did not disappoint. The fried chicken was crispy, but the meat was a little dry but that could be changed with adjustments to the cooking time! Do take note that their sambal is quite spicy (even for me), so if you’re a moderate spice eater, beware!

To make sure the chicken is moist and juicy after a deep fry, you’ll have to poach the chicken first so that the inside is cooked through. The high heat from the deep fry process is meant to crisp up the meat as a whole, and not really meant for cooking the meat through. So if the poaching process were to be omitted, what you will get is a crispy but overcooked piece of meat. The Ayam Penyet Recipe from Bearnakedfood does this! What the chef also did was to marinate the meat overnight for more flavour and a more tender piece of meat.

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Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken) – Comes with deep fried beancurd, cucumbers, tempeh, cabbage, and a dollop of sambal

Next up was Tahu Telor aka Beancurd Omelette, also another deep fried dish. This dish is part of the street food culture in Indonesia and it involves a mixture of beaten egg and tofu that is deep fried, and served with a peanut sauce. I am quite sure that the “high tower” shape is a new addition to this dish as normal tahu telors are pretty much flat. To get this “high tower” shape, just use a mould (it has to be metal of course; used soup cans are great, but remove the labels). I am not a big advocate of deep fried eggs as somehow I find that it takes away the flavour of the eggs. Nevertheless, it was still a great dish!

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Tahu Telor/Telur – Beancurd Omelette

Address:
Lucky Plaza:
204 Orchard Road, #04-25/26 & Level 1,
Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863

Far East Plaza:
14 Scotts Road, #05-22
Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213

Jurong Point:
1 Jurong West Central 2, #B1-06,
Jurong Point, 648886

Nearest MRT:
For Lucky Plaza and Far East Plaza:
Orchard MRT Station (NS22)

For Jurong Point:
Boon Lay MRT Station (EW27)

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 11:00AM – 10:00PM

58 Prawn Mee

Prawn Noodles to end a chaotic YOLO run, why not? I’ve heard of Whitley Road Prawn Mee, Beach Road, Hock Prawn Mee etc but not this one. So credits to my buddies for finding this gem. Like what some people might say, it IS a hidden gem in a coffee shop! “See Beh Ho” Eating House or “Damn good” if you were to do a direct translation, is situated in the midst of residential blocks along Bedok Reservoir Crescent.

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If you want good food, you have to queue for it. When we got to the coffee shop, there were at least 4-5 people in front of us. Once it gets to your turn, be VERY CLEAR on what you want.
Here’s how you should order:

  1. The kind of noodles you want.
    • Mee Hoon/Vermicelli/米粉
    • Yellow Mee/黄面
    • Kway Teow/Flat rice noodles/粿条
  2. Dry/Soup
  3. Chilli/No Chilli
  4. Special Order e.g. no beansprouts

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When you’re prepared, go forth into the battlefield. Don’t worry as the lady taking your order is very nice. She’ll recite your order, almost like a rap, to another lady who will prepare the noodles and other necessary ingredients in a bowl before handing it to the chef.

Personally, I ordered the Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle (S$6) and went for the vermicelli/yellow noodle mix (米粉面) as I know it’s a combo that will not go wrong. The sauce right at the bottom of the bowl, followed by the noodles, then generous slices of lean pork meat and prawns, finally ending with fried shallots and a personal favourite, LARD. Both the pork ribs and prawns are cooked well. Noodles coated with their chilli was amazing. Here’s another tip, do the same for every mouthful if you can. Start with the noodles, the pork and prawns, and then the crispy goodies, all in your spoon.

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Address:
704 Bedok Reservoir Rd,
Singapore 470704
See Beh Ho Eating House

Nearest MRT:
Bedok North Station (DT29)
It’s an approximately 8 minute walk from the station.

Little Diner @ Bukit Timah

Little Diner sits right almost in the middle of a bunch of shophouses along Bukit Timah Road. One of my colleagues have been telling me about the food, so one fine day, we all headed there for lunch! It’s not difficult to miss as it is very near the Sixth Avenue Station (DT7). Once you’re out of the station, another 2 minutes walk and you will be at the restaurant.

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Though not a very spacious restaurant, dim lights, wooden tables and chairs, and hearty conversations over drinks make it cozy.

They have a Weekday Set Lunch Menu which costs S$22.5++  per person. This includes one starter (from a choice of 5), one main (from a choice of 6), and either tea or coffee. For dessert lovers, top up an additional S$4++ and choose any dessert from their Main Menu!

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Rosario’s Fried Risotto Balls: Mozzarella Centre, Tomato Coulis, Basil Pesto, and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

For starters, I had the chance to try their Risotto Balls. Crispy on the outside, and a melty mozzarella on the inside. It is served with tomato coulis and a basil pesto. (FYI: A coulis is a thick sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables, or fruits.) You can’t go wrong when basil and tomato sauce are paired together, but I felt that the tomato sauce was a little on the sweet side and I would personally prefer it to be more acidic.

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Rustic Lamb Ragu: Shredded Lamb Shank in a Rich Marinara Sauce, Tagliatelle, Drizzled with Basil Oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Instead of going for their set lunch, I was rather interested in one of the dishes on their main menu: Rustic Lamb Ragu. Lamb shank is cooked in a Marinara sauce for possibly hours resulting in meat so tender that it can be pulled apart very easily. One of my biggest pet peeves is overcooked pasta – soggy, soft, unappetizing. But Little Diner tosses the ragu sauce with al dente Tagliatelle, ends it by drizzling with basil oil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. A pleasure in every bite.

For desserts, we went all out and chose four. Apologies for the absence of dessert photos as our mouths were faster than our phones. Homemade Apple Crumble was not too bad, but we felt that more crumble could be added to give a better combination of textures. Banana & Nutella Quesadilla was an interesting concept, but I would have preferred the use of crêpes as it is softer and it is frequently used in desserts. Chocolate Pot De Crème, a chocolate mousse top with whipped cream, was light which made it better and easier for us to finish. Chocolate Lava Cake was pretty much the star, with a well-cooked exterior and a molten interior, everything you wish for in a lava cake.

It’s worth a trip down for a nice lunch and transport isn’t too difficult! If not, TGIF can be spent over good food and a couple of drinks too!

Address:
789 Bukit Timah Rd,
Singapore 269763

Nearest MRT:
Sixth Avenue Station (DT7)
Take Exit A.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30AM – 3:30PM, 6 – 10:00PM
Friday: 11:30AM – 3:30PM, 6 – 10:30PM
Saturday: 11AM – 3:30PM, 6 – 10:30PM
Sunday: 11AM – 3:30PM, 6 – 10PM
Closed on Mondays.