Sunday, March 31, 2019

[Tasting] Bearded Bella @ 8 Craig Road

Bearded Bella is a cosy casual eatery with good coffee, wholesome food and good company. Started by Regina Tay and Sarah Ling, the place exudes a lovely soft ambiance and staffed by fun, young adults. There's a front-yard where diners could chill outside too.

Happy Birthday Bearded Bella!

Was invited for dinner and its dinner menu would be of sharing plates concept. A quick browse of the dinner menu had us easily identifying our dinner plates. But first order of things, would be....drinks, of course. It was TGIF after all!

Wanted something with sweetness and was recommended a G&T named as "The jam sessions." Special drink for its reverse infused gin and tonic. Botanist gin and tonic infused with mixed berries, lemon and sage. A lovely pinkish hued glass that is adequately sweet and easy to drink.

"The jam sessions" @$14
Or, you could opt for some bright gold sparkling Spanish cava. Fresh, crisp and with fine bubbles. 

Franck Massard Mas Sardana, Cava Brut Nature @$14


Though we'd start strong with an order of beef cheeks. The portion was just right for us. We were a party of 3! The Australian grass-fed beef cheeks was braised in red wine jus till delicately fork tender and served sitting on-top of a puffy mound of creamy celeriac puree. Devoured in two bites. Ok, probably 3-bites for more lady-like dining.

Australian grass-fed beef cheeks @$15

SGD9 for two eggs are not exactly economical but glad I ordered the Devilled Eggs at Bearded Bella. Lovely golden yellow hues for its crips parmesan chip as well as the tasty miso yolk. Was pleasantly surprised with the slight sweetness at the end of the bite. Was there caramelised sugar?

Devilled Eggs @$9


Yes, it is mandatory to have two servings of vegetables for every meal. Hence, we got ourselves the cauliflower done three ways; roasted, couscous and crisps. Loved the puree in this dish. So creamy and milky. I enjoyed the cauliflower couscous and the roasted version but not the crisps as it tasted like dehydrated.

Cauliflower done 3-ways @$12

Regina sent us one of her favourite garden plate and that was how, the baby beetroot plate landed on our table. Would I have ordered baby beetroot? Unlikely. But after having a taste of this version, I'd gladly order one if I'm there again!

sweet baby beetroot, beetroot juice, pickled beetroot, feta @$10

Sweet is so apt to describe the baby beets. So sweeeeet~ in fact. So good with a bit of the feta cheese crumbs and those crunchy nuts. More please.


The treasures from the sea that we opted for was the sea bass. I liked that the sea bass natural flavours were accentuated with the coconut tom kha sauce and the fragrant curry leaf. Good mouthfeel overall.

Sea bass, lime, coconut tom kha sauce, grilled tomatoes, curry leaves @$22
Another dish that I enjoyed was the seared scallops. Good price point, reasonably sized and bouncy scallops with refreshing mint pea puree. Loved the colours on this plate.

Yuzu ponzu pan-seared scallops, mint pea puree, hazelnuts @$17


Pork, beef or chicken? We had pork jowl as well as the beef cubes. Be warned that these would be quite filling especially after all the starters.

Seared Spanish pork jowl, honey truffle pear, celeriac and pork crackling @$13

Yes, we did the pork crackling test and it was amazingly crunchy! If you could only hear the sound of the crunch. So loud! Hahahaa! Yes, it was a tad embarassing but in a good way. For this dish, best to get a drink ready as the pork jowl was fatty and rich. Flavourful, oily mouthfeel with super tender meat and scoop a few of those julienned sweet pear and some celeriac mash. So good!

Of course, on the other extreme, you could opt for the healthy lean chicken. I think this would make very good gym food. Lean white meat that wasn't tough, clean tasting and paired well with creamy cauliflower puree.

Chicken, roasted butternut squash, cauliflower puree @$14

For the second most expensive plate around, it was the Australian grass-fed tenderloin cubes. 180g was enough to induce a short bout of meatgasm. The medium rare meat was jaw friendly, flavourful with each chew and complete with jus.

Australian grass-fed tenderloin cubes (180 g), yuzu shoyu, chili threads @$28

It was at this stage that we figured that we had eaten more than we should. Tummies filled and heart full.

But, what about dessert? Will we be able to bear leaving yet not knowing how dessert would have tasted like?

Plated Dessert

Dark chocolate and orange bread pudding @$13

Yassss to dessert! But because we only can choose one (as any more we would've combusted there and then), we exercised caution and a long deliberation before deciding on dark chocolate and orange bread pudding.

I think this plate was nothing short of magical. Scoops after scoops of that pudding went into our mouth as though we had not eaten anything for dinner prior! It was just that good.

Served warm, its texture was delightfully moist (or dare I say, molten?) and contrasting with the wonderfully cold (but melted too fast) vanilla bean ice-cream. Sweet endings indeed.

This is bounced up into the must-order list.

Thank you Kris for the invitation. To Regina, thank you for your generosity and hospitality. To Bearded Bella crew, thank you for taking care of us on our night of visit.

See you again!

Bearded Bella

Address: 8 Craig Rd, Singapore 089668
Contact: 9880 0775
Business Hours:
Monday to Thurs: 730am to 5pm
Fri: 730am to 11pm
Sat to Sun: 730am to 6pm

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Kafe UTU Revisited @ 12 Jiak Chuan Road

Back again after a month or so, and this time to try some new items in the dinner menu with the rest of the foodie gang. It was a somewhat deja vu moment as we sat at the same table as we did, one month ago! Here is the link to previous visit.

While waiting for the last person to arrive, we ordered up our drinks with half the group opting for mocktails and the other half preferred the alcoholic ones.  That night, we left our drinks selection in the hands of Ivan, the Head Bartender at Kafe UTU.

He asked what would I prefer. I said, "Gin based and slightly sweet. Make it special."  After a long while, my drink arrived in a dainty tokkuri (徳利) and it came with a little cute heart. How'd they know I like Japanese stuffs? *winks*

The Alcoholics

Gin-based Special #1
I liked the special gin mix that was not too strong, sweet and refreshing. Thank you Ivan for the thoughtful creation.

Grapefruit Negroni
Whiskey-based  Special #2
Rum-based Special #3

The Mocktails

Fruit-based and refreshingly tangy
Watermelon-based with egg white
Tiki drink
Berry refreshing

Can you guess which of the above mocktail was for a guy? Hehe.

But where's the food? One word of advice, do place your food order quickly before the kitchen gets really really busy with the avalanche of orders.


Malindi Croquettes @$12

I think the Malindi Croquettes came to our table by mistake but we ended up ordering two more plates of it. Smallish in size, but it packed a punch in flavour. Best eaten when served. The insides are super soft and creamy, with a nice golden crisp batter. Pause for 5 seconds after the first swallow and notice the rising burn. Wow, it was deceptively spicy! Well, the menu did say Habanero...but guessed we just didn't noticed it. But it was shioks!

fresh cassava leaves, ginger, garlic, Habanero, House spices, Bechamel

Pan Con Tomate with House Smoked Anchovies & Garlic @$18

The tomato cold soup was as how we remembered it, and the difference was in the toast. The smoked anchovies added another dimension to this.


Roasted Pumpkin Kale Salad (V) @$20


West African Charred Aubergine Stew with Angus Beef Cheek (served with basmati rice) @$30

We loved to hear the origins of the dish and the aubergine turns out to be Kurt's favourite birthday dish! Can easily understand why, as the beef cheek has a pleasant smokey flavour yet tender with each bite. Moist with the Liberian sauce, its spices were pleasant and delightful when laden ontop a spoonful of basmati white rice. Yums.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken Tagine @$29

Yes, there was no tagine (طجين) for the Moroccan Lemon Chicken Tagine dish. The tagine is a shallow earthen pot which is often recognised for its upside down cone shaped cover. It's ok not to have the tagine though because the chicken was still very delicious.

The star of this dish, got to be the quinoa. Superbly moist, flavourful and delightful with the onions.

Macanese African Chicken with Mango Salsa @$29

The Macanese African Coconut sauce looked a tad oily but we did not care a bit. Cut a small piece of that chicken, swirl it all over the sauce and into the mouth it went. Lovely.

The Macanese African Chicken With Mango Salsa is served with quinoa, and the quinoa in this dish was rather interesting as well. It was made into a patty and pan-fried, which resulted in a nice crust on its outer part much like the taste of scorched rice.

We also had some of the favourites from the previous round; the Swahili Fish Curry and Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew. These two dishes paired so well with the basmati rice.


We ordered our previous favourites; the carrot cake and the soft serve ice-cream. Malindi Halwa was added after Kurt shared more stories of how this dessert snug into the menu. Yes, we do love stories especially if it was about Sheiks, master craftsmen and their favourite dessert.

Malindi Halwa @$10

"Would it be too sweet?" I was thinking in my mind. "How does Kafe UTU's version of Halwa taste like?"

Halwa is sweet confections made in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. There's flour based halwa, nut butter based halwa but this texture was something unfamiliar. I felt like I might be eating a cube of watermelon (based on visual), but it tasted of spices and a pleasant sweetness with a light but not so bouncy texture. The Kafe UTU's halwa is made of dragonfruit juice, hazelnuts and cashew nuts,  macadamia, pistachios with Malindi spices. There's yoghurt on the plate for a slight sour taste. There's crisp spiced Dukha filo too. Interesting!

Carrot cake was a crowd favourite, but soft serve ice-cream is life! The flavour on that night was dark chocolate. Previous visit, we had coffee soft serve.

UTU Soft Serve Ice Cream @$4


One shall not pass a chance to savour some sipping gin. Sipping gin is basically a gin that is good enough to drink neat.

Cheers to Good Food, Good Drinks and Good Company~

Procera Gin
Procera Gin, is an African craft gin and has African botanicals from Morocco, Kenya, Somalia, Zanzibar, Madagascar and Sierra Leone. It is the first and only gin crafted with African juniper.

Lovely aroma, strong and pleasantly smooth on the throat.

Kurt asked if we would like to try something that is currently not on the menu yet. Would we be too full since we were done with dessert as well? And miss a chance to try new menu? No way. And that was how we ended up with more food.

Off menu special Nigerian Beef Suya

The meat was tender, marinade was on point and the crispy homemade chapati provided the contrast in texture to the tender flavourful meat. Eaten like a wrap with pickled thinly sliced cucumbers and piled with as much kachumbari as you like.

lovely onglet

Once this makes its appearance in the menu, hesitate not. It was delicious.

All in all, expect to spend between $40 to $60 per pax for a drink and a good meal.

An enjoyable Friday night out with Kris, Elle, Rachelle, Tiara, Shermaine, Alvin, Hence and Ivan. Thank you Kurt for your hospitality, and team UTU for taking care of us that night.

Kafe Utu

Address: 12 Jiak Chuan Road Singapore 089265
Contact: +65 6996 3937

Business Hours:    

Kafe Utu
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Sunday: 8am – 5pm

Utu Lounge
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday & Saturday: 6pm-1am
Sunday: 1130am - 5pm

Saturday, March 16, 2019

[Japan-Nagoya] Nagoya-meshi 名古屋めし or What to Eat in Nagoya Part 2 - Breakfast Nagoya Style at Komeda's Coffee

Yes, we are going to talk about Nagoya breakfast, the Ogura Toast. Interestingly, it originated in 1921 at the Mitsu Ha cafe in the Sakae area of Nagoya. It was created after the shopkeeper of Mitsu Ha noticed his customers dipping their toast in zenzai (sweet red bean soup). Thanks to his keen observation, am glad that we now have this delicious ogura toast in existance.

Komeda's Coffee
morning service

Had woken up early, gotten dressed and went out to hunt for the cafe to enjoy the typical Nagoya-styled breakfast. Alas, the cafe that I wanted was not open yet that day. Hence, I wandered around and found Komeda's Coffee at ESCA underground shopping center.

As with typical Japanese cafés, Komeda's also offers "morning service" (モーニングサービス) or "morning set" (モーニングセット), which is a low-cost breakfast menu available only during selected morning hours and in our case, from 7 till 11am.

The cafe looked pretty packed and was slightly worried if there'll be any seats for me. Waited for about 5 minutes and was greeted by the staff. "Smoking" or "Non-Smoking"? I think that's what she asked. Oh, no wonder I smelled cigarette smoke somehow. "Non-smoking, please." I said.

She acknowledged and asked me to wait. 5 minutes later, a table was available as the previous occupant had finished his breakfast. I was brought to a table big enough for 4 pax. Ooh, such luxury. An oshibori (warm towel) was brought out along with a glass of iced water. Just nice, as it was drizzling earlier.

oshibori (おしぼり) and iced water

Staff was rather nice and let you have your own time before deciding on what to have. It was rather easy for me to decide. Set C of Ogura toast set with hard boiled egg.  At Komeda's Coffee, you just need to order a drink and then the breakfast set is free. Coffee was about ¥560.

Set C - Ogura Toast 小倉トースト with coffee
The milk was strong, hence I only dripped a few drops for a taste. Japanese coffee tend to be slightly more acidic.

coffee au lait

The thick toast was awesome. Spread with delicious golden butter (salted, of course), which by then had gently seeped into the toast, so I just needed to top it with a big spoonful of adequately sweet red bean paste before getting a big satisfying bite out of it. Yums.

delicious toast

Lovely breakfast and good value for money.

Komeda's Coffee

Address: Japan, 〒453-0015 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Nakamura-ku, Tsubakicho, 6−9, エスカ地下街内
Contact: +81 52-454-3883
Business hours:
Daily: 7am to 10pm

Sunday, March 10, 2019

[Japan-Nagoya] Nagoya-meshi 名古屋めし or What to Eat in Nagoya

If one had Googled about what to eat in Nagoya, the results will likely include foods like kishimen, cochin chicken, miso nikomi, tebasaki and ogura toast. Did a two-days stay in Nagoya and managed to try some of the local delicacies. This was my second time in Nagoya and the first was just a one-night stay so this time round, extended to another night.

Was travelling solo as Shermaine decided to do her own route hence, we parted ways in Asakusa. The next morning, I took the Shinkansen from Kinshicho to Nagoya. As with JR-Pass, am able to take Shinkansen Hikari which was about 2+ hours to Nagoya.

Stayed at Nagoya Liberty Hotel this time round. About 10 minutes walk to the train station and a rather old-school hotel.

Nagoya Liberty Hotel
Now that am all settled in for the accommodation, next would be food. The ESCA underground shopping is just about 6 minutes walk away hence, that became my favourite food destination in Nagoya. That, or Family-Mart or the train station where there's plenty of food as well.

Here are some that were bought from Nagoya train station. There are many wings with different restaurant and food kiosks.

Minomisho JR Nagoya Station (food kiosk)

tamagoyaki and karaage from Minomisho Nagoya Station
lovely rolled egg omelette
The take-away set of rolled egg and karaage was close to ¥700. The karaage was lacklustre because it was rather hard and cold. While the omelette was also cold, it had a nice flavour which was a good balance of savoury and sweet.

Furaibo ESCA 風来坊 エスカ店

Furaibo Tebasaki (Chicken Wings) @ ¥590
small fried wings with salt, pepper and lemon

Furaibo seemed packed during dinner, so did a takeaway since am dining solo. There are options for half a dozen or a dozen wings. Opted for the former and ate in comfort in the hotel. Picked up an apple sochu from convenience store as accompaniment. The wings were small, cold and lacklustre. Hmm, am I missing something here?

Luckily, I had a packet of strawberries bought from the department store. When in Japan, I'd make sure to buy strawberries. But often times, it was scarce since it was not in season. Happy that I found some and it was so juicy and sweet! Yums. It lasted me two nights.


Next installment, let's checkout some Nagoya restaurant food.
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