Sunday, September 25, 2016

[Media Invite] Vita Italiana Restaurant @ 38 Mosque Street Chinatown

The name Vita Italiana may be familiar to some, but did you know that a new owner had taken over this place since May 2016, revamped its concept to an osteria-style with no menu and serving up rustic Italian home-fare just as mamma (or papa) would've made it. Owner/Chef Carmine is both a gregarious and humorous host, who's equally adept at utilizing both imported ingredients from his hometown in Abruzzo, Italy as well as from locally sourced produced from our wet markets.

To get there, the walk from the bus stop opposite of Hong Lim Complex took me about 10 minutes. Parking lots near the restaurant are limited and if you're lucky enough to secure one, do remember to put up the parking coupons (when appicable) as I've seen the parking 'uncle' coming around to check. Allow about 1.5 hours of dining time if you're doing 5 courses or more.

restaurant facade
coming round from the side
concept and pricing info

What's this concept of 'no menu' osteria style?
To put it simply, Chef decides on what to cook for you. For diners, the only thing that they need to do is to put their trust in Chef Carmine's good hands and able team.

Reservation is encouraged as the restaurant is a small and cosy place, much like a friend's home. Arrive at the restaurant and be greeted by the friendly restaurant manager, Giorgia. We learnt that she's from the northern part of Italy.

cosy space

Be seated, and Chef Carmine will be out to greet the guests. Chef would then enquire if you have any dietary requirements. Vegan? Not a problem. Has allergy to seafood? Sure, that can be replaced with other meats.

Osteria-style No Menu Course Options (aka Set Your Budget)
Diners can opt to choose how many courses they would like to eat. The very basic quick lunch set will simply be a two-course meal of either a soup/salad and a pasta for just $12++.

If you are not in a hurry, then a 3-course lunch meal can be enjoyed for just $28++ while 5-course is reasonably priced at $38++.

For dinner, diners have the option to have 9 course Chef's table meal for $68++ and 13 course for $98++.

From our experience, if you are in a group of 4-pax, you could do the 7 to 9 course meal. Desserts are included in the 9-course meal onwards.

For beer/wine lovers, do try the beer/wine pairing by topping up $38++ for 5 glasses of beer from the Collesi Birra Artigianale collection. We tried the Ambrata, Triplo Malto and Nera and they were all very good. You can arrange with Giorgia if you'd like to pair with beer or wine for the same price, or interchange the option.

Collesi - Italian Artisan Beer
award winning beer

The Experience

pouring of Italian craft beer
Liked how the staff genuinely wants you to experience the hospitality of Italians and the homely fares of Italian cuisine.


Started the night with Collesi Birra Ambrata with its slightly deep amber hues, honeyed malt and caramel profile with slight fruitty hoppy taste. Slight sweetness and smooth.

The antipasti platter was brought out shortly after. The serving sizes are of tapas portions and good for our party of 4-pax. The appetiser platter had so many things in it! There were two types of breads, a good mound of greens with tomatoes and olives (unpitted), cured meats (salame di Sant'Olcese), and two types of cheeses (buffalo mozzarella and taleggio).

Antipasti (2 courses)
Potato Foccacia
Salame Di Sant'Olcese
Buffalo Mozzarella
The most interesting was the thick cut salame and the squares of taleggio cheese. Interesting as this was my first time tasting this kind of cured meat and cheese. The meat was cut thickly in strip form. Very meaty, and somewhat juicy. Not too salty. The semi-soft Taleggio cheese has a nice strong flavour that's quite likeable. So good with the breads and salad. Goes well with the beer.

For the third and fourth courses, Chef cooked us seafood. The Prawn and Scallop with Saffron sauce and the Grilled Salmon on Pomelo with white sauce. Looked dainty and pretty. The flavours were rather subtle for the prawn and scallop.

Third Course - Prawn and Scallop in Saffron cream
Fourth Course - Grilled Salmon on pomelo with white sauce

The salmon was well-cooked and pomelo gave it just a slight tang of citrussy-bitter flavour. The white vinegar sauce was good with the fish.

Fifth Course - Lamb

Next up, we got a lamb dish. Grilled lamb rack with beans and bok choy and decorated with stalk of wilted chili. The lamb was tender with a slight chew and not gamey. The seasoning for the lamb was rather mild. The grilled chili was quite nice to eat with its slight smokey flavour.

For the meats, it was paired with Triplo Malto. The Ambrata works as well as that beer is an all-rounder that can be paired with anything. Liked the Triplo too and it has a slightly higher alcohol content as compared to Ambrata. Both were refreshing.

Cheers with Triplo Malto
Sixth Course - Pork Ribs with Fregula in brown sauce

Fregula is one of the more 'unusual' pasta that we seldom see nor order when we have Italian food in Singapore. Served with pork ribs, the fregula made semolina dough, offers a slightly 'popping' texture similar to barley. Grab a spoonful of that pasta and it was quite an enjoyable texture and flavour. The pork ribs were well-cooked and fork tender with slightly burnt edges.

As the flavours gets stronger, we then progressed to Nera, a dark beer similar to stout. This beer had won the World Beer Awards - Imperial Stout Gold Medal 2015.

If you're wondering if there's carbs in the course-meal, then answer is yes. Usually, there will be one pasta course. For that day, we got carbonara done in legit Italian style which is without cream!

Seventh Course - Carbonara
By now, we were all pretty stuffed from all the food and drinks! But, the carbonara was seriously good. Glad to taste it in tapas portion, so that's more manageable. Cooked simply with pancetta/bacon and egg with thin strands of pasta noodles. What a treat!

yummy carbonara
For finale, we ended with 3-course desserts. All are made in-house and we got tiramisu, panna cotta and vanilla ice-cream. The tiramisu here is a version without any liqour. Loved all the desserts, especially the panna cotta.

Desserts - Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and vanilla gelato
And, the unofficial dessert? The limoncello, a digestif aperitif. Sweet, strong and tangy. To be sipped slowly.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and we learnt something new about Italian cuisine. Reasonably priced and diners would get to chat with Italian natives about life in another country, food preferences, history, culture etc.

Special thanks to Vita Italiana Restaurant and Chef Carmine for your hospitality, and Giorgia for taking care of our table. Thank you Ivan and Chope SG for the invite.

Vita Italiana Restaurant

Address: 38 Mosque St. Singapore 059516

Contact: 6220 0093
Business Hours: Mon-Sun: 12-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm

Nearest bus stop: Opposite Hong Lim Complex
Nearest MRT: Chinatown

Monday, September 19, 2016

[Media Invite] Spuds & Aprons @ Faber Peak Singapore

Ascended to the hilltop to attain......hearty good food, good service, gentle natural breeze and coupled with an awesome view! What more could one ask for?

signage to the restaurant

Getting to Faber Peak Singapore was fairly easy. By Cable Car Sky Network with Mount Faber Line and Sentosa Line running. A Cable Car Sky Pass ticket for an adult costs $33 and you'll get Mount Faber Line + Sentosa Line and entry into Sentosa. But I think getting the Faber License is more value-for-money and here's why. Get this, for only $39 per year for an individual membership, you'll get unlimited joyrides on the two cable car lines, unlimited admission to Sentosa island plus exclusive privileges for dining and shopping at Faber Peak Singapore. How cool is that! Read more about Faber License and how to be a member here.

Took the cable car ride from Harbourfront Tower, and funny us, we lost our way as we got off at the wrong stop. Haha. My sense of direction is getting from bad to worse, apparently. From Harbourfront Tower to Faber Peak, the journey is about 7 to 8 minutes.

joyrides via Cable Car Sky Network
With the Faber Line, it was very easy to locate our dining venue; Spuds and Aprons. After getting off the cable car, walk into the souvenir shop, have a look or get a wishing bell from here, or exit the shop and you'll be greeted by the signage to the restaurant.

Spuds and Aprons is located about 100 metres above sea level at Faber Peak Singapore. If you feel a sense of familiarity of this place, that's likely because Jewel Box was previously here. Now, Spuds and Aprons offers big, comfortable space with good airflow, and has adequate lightings. It even retained part of nature in its space. The restaurant now has a casual vibe and basically pretty chill. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Derrick Ang and the restaurant serves up good hearty proportions of tasty food which has both Western and Asian influences.

one with nature
check out these offers
Diners could purchase a wishing bell from the souvenir shop and make a wish at the Faber Peak. From the restaurant, you could see the small wishing bells that others had placed. It makes a beautiful view.

wishing bells

Let's quench our thirst by starting with a refreshing mocktail of Wild Berries Chunky Munchies Soda with nata de coco. The soda water provided a bit of fizz to the drink. Nice and sweet and plenty of berries.  Not to worry if berries is not your thing, as one could also choose flavours such as mango, yuzu, passionfruit, soursop, watermelon and lychee. The berries were seriously plentiful in this mug!

Chunky Munchies Soda with Nata de Coco (Wild Berries) @$8++

For appetisers, we had the Truffle Wicked Fries, Chili Crab in a Tux which is listed as 'die die must try' in its menu, Sweet Potato Fries and Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice Crackers.

Truffle Wicked Fries @$13++
The Truffle Wicked Fries are steakhouse cut spuds with 6 types of cheeses; Provolone, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Gruyere, Emmental and Cheddar and served with a small dish of brown sauce. There was no need for the sauce as the thick cut fries with melty cheese on it were so good eaten as it is! Gooey cheeses and crispy fries for the win!

Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice Crackers @$14++

The rice crackers in the Thai Green Curry Chicken tapas was really good too. Fluffy and crispy as good rice puffs ought to be. Was just curious about the Thai Green Curry though. Its colour was rather light but the taste of green curry was there. Minced chicken meat was used and that was a tad unexpected along with the colour of the green curry. Curiouser and curiouser.

The other fries that we tried was the sweet potato fries. Sweet and well fried. The dip of curry mayo sauce was quite additive and tasted rather familiar. Lovely!
Sweet Potato Fries with Sea Salt and Japanese Curry Mayo @$10++

For the strongest flavoured starter, go for the Chili Crab in a Tux. A good flavourful mound of chili crab fitted snugly onto potato skins. Slight spiciness and moderately sweet. Cut it into halves? Nah, no way! Am not sharing this. All mine! No need to crack any shells too. So convenient and tasty. Why, one could even eat the skin on this one.Thumbs up for this dish.

Chili Crab in a Tux @$14++

For mains, we sampled dishes that had something from the land and the sea. Something with beef? Yes, one could eat like a horse with a small pot of Gorgeous Beef Guinness, or if duck confit is your thing, go for the Quack & Go.  Chef must be one humorous chap to come up with this name. There's also the good with beer item; the Barbequed Baby Back Ribs. Otherwise, there's Sio Bak or Crispy Pork Belly and lastly, my favourite dish from the mains; the Tobiko Crusted Cod Fillet. The Grilled King Prawns was impressive looking with its huge prawns.

Barbequed Baby Back Ribs @$26++
Quack & Go @$26++

The Baby Back Ribs has a nice glaze and was well seasoned. Meat was fork tender and portion was good for one pax. Enjoyed the accopanying sauerkraut too.Tangy and appetising!

The Quack & Go was basically Asian spiced duck leg confit, served with mango salsa anbd mixed brown rice. The mango salsa tasted pretty much like Thai som tam. Very likeable and goes well with the mixed brown rice which again has chye poh (fried preserved turnip) in it. Now we can say byebye to bland brown rice.

My preference was the Crispy Pork Belly over the duck leg confit.  Mainly because the pork belly has such tender meat with reasonable fat to meat ratio and of course, the de-facto crackling skin. Satisfying crunch indeed.

Crispy Pork Belly @$27++

Next, were two dishes that would make one sit up and take notice.

The Grilled King Prawns with the two large sized prawns sitting ontop of squid ink pasta which in turn, was bathed in tom yum broth. The tom yum broth was refreshingly tangy but it was also a tad salty overall.

Grilled King Prawns @$32++
Next, was my favourite main course. Looked so beautiful too. Good portion of the cod fillet, lots of tobiko, soba doused in light soy based sweet sauce and with some mushrooms and bok choy. Yummy, lovely colours, strongly flavoured yet has a light mouthfeel.  Recommended and must-try.

Tobiko Crusted Cod Fillet @$32++

For desserts, there are 6 options in the menu and we tried three; Banana Heaven, Jar of Happiness and Chempedak Bread and Butter (Pudding).

Banana Heaven has quite a strong vanilla taste to it, and the banana biscuit was quite unique as it tasted a bit like frozen sponge cake. Decorated with strawberries and marshmallows.

Banana Heaven @$12++

Jar of Happiness @$11++

Liked the Jar of Happiness quite a bit. One just can't help to feel happy eating the content of this jar. Dig into the thick creamy Haagen Daaz vanilla ice-cream that's topped with warm strawberry compote, almond flakes to find treasures of mixed berries and shortbread.

And, for the finale, personal favourite was the Chempedak Bread and Butter Pudding. This is also one of signature desserts, along with Jar of Happiness. The fragrance of the chempedak was evident and very likeable. Warm bread and butter pudding that gives off strong whiffs of chempedak fruit topped with cold ice-cream equates to love.

Chempedak Bread and Butter @$12++

Overall, Spuds & Aprons has a strong line up of hearty good food in its starters, mains and desserts. Its casual vibe was inviting and the place is suitable for families, large groups or even couples and close friends to chat and chill in the cool natural air with some good view from 100 metres above the sea level.

Special thanks and appreciation to Tracy, Yee Shan and Faber Peak Singapore for hosting the dinner and the good folks of HGW for the invite.

Hurry and utilize the on-going promotion at Hungrygowhere for Spuds & Aprons (till 30 Sept 2016) where one can get 50% off second main course, or free sweet potato fries beer/cider bucket or wine bottle, or free half-pint beer for every main course ordered. Check out for more information and t&c here:

Friday, September 16, 2016

D'Good Cafe @ Takashimaya

Recently paid a visit to D'Good Cafe at #B1-56 Takashimaya. Previous visit was to its Holland Village outlet. Read more about that here.  It was post-lunch and the place was bustling as expected during the weekends and we were lucky to have the last remaining counter seats. The 65-seater cafe looked smallish when it was packed.

counter seats view
The cold brew menu looked pretty interesting and there was even one called 'Unknown'. mysterious! Ask friendly the friendly barista and he will explain to you on what to expect for the 'Unknown'.

cold brew coffee menu

One of the signature is the Coconut Infused Cold Brew @$9.50++, so we ordered one of that to try. Coffee brewed with coconut water for that light coconut fragrance and slight fruity sweetness.

are you ready for a multisensory experience?
pour some smoke over the coffee
now, let's do the same for the drinking glass
That was some display of effects and the coffee tasted pretty strong. Or, if you'd like a strong espresso with milk, get Dirty; a concoction of double espresso over 3 oz. of cold milk. In the menu, there is a prescribed way of drinking this. Sip, drink and gulp.

Dirty @$4++
For me, I've gotten the Maple Syrup Sea Salt Latte @$6++. Was disappointed that it turned out to be tasting like a regular latte.

Maple Syrup Sea Salt Latte @$6++

And, we just couldn't resist ordering the Deutsch Skillet Pancake that D'Good Cafe does so well. Chose the plain and simple Classic of sweet dutch pancake, served with maple syrup, lemon and cream cheese on the side. Added a scoop of white chocolate raspberry ice-cream with chocolate drizzle because who'll say no to ice-cream? Do order early as it takes about half an hour for the pancake to arrive piping hot to our table. That anticipation...was well worthed it!

Classic @$8++ (ice-cream additional $3++)

It was an indulgent to have it with the ice-cream for that contrast of warm and cold, and distinct sweetness jolt. It was refreshing to the palate to have it plain with just a drizzle of maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon. Totally yummy! A dab of cream cheese on the thin eggy pancake gave it another slightly heavier taste that was almost buttery.

Expect to spend about $10 to $15 per pax for coffee and dessert. Was great catching up with fellow foodies; Kris, Tiara and Justin over coffee. Thanks Justin for being the hand-model.

D'Good Cafe

Address: 391 Orchard Road #B1-56, Takashimaya S.C., Ngee Ann City Singapore 238872
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