Sunday, September 29, 2019

Saturday Morning Food Hunt @ Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre

Chinatown Food Complex is located at Smith Street, and about 5 minutes walk from Chinatown MRT Station. It was Saturday morning and we were there for brunch. The food area is huge! It was rows after rows of food stalls, at the front, back, centre and if you're hunting for the famous ones, do lookout for the stall number where each row will have an 'index' indicator placed at the start of the row.

Chinatown Food Complex

Ivan bought us drinks from the popular 1950s Coffee 五十年代咖啡 that was Michelin recommended. Thankfully, the queue was not that long and the serving pace was quick. Thank you Ivan for the treat!

queuing for our turn

After you've placed order for your drinks (siew dai and whatever not combination), the lady at the counter would ask "几个面包?" Which translates to, "How many breads?" She'd also ask if you'd want any eggs as per any traditional breakfast set. We opted for just one traditional bread to try.

hot coffee
toasted bread

The toasted bread was thin and crispy (similar to another popular establishment but uses white bread), with the slab of butter in between the kaya (coconut jam).

I had the iced coffee and it was likeable. Thick, not too acidic, and not overly sweet. Am liking coffee from the 50s!

iced coffee (kopi-peng) 

Next up, to fuel our tummies, we had decided on Maria Virgin Chicken, chee cheong fun (because Shermaine wants this) and Hill Street Char Kway Teow. There were only 4 of us, so this will suffice because Tiara wanted pancakes from Hong Lim Food Centre. My task was to find Stall #32 for the char kway teow while Tiara queues for the chicken and Shermaine was off to find chee cheong fun and Kris was on table duty.

short queue
瑪莉亞處女雞 Maria Virgin Chicken - Soy Sauce Chicken Rice @$6

Served on disposable styrofoam plate, the portion of meat was generous and we opted for the dark meat. Served with blanched cai xin, the secret of the plate lies within the delicious soy sauce drizzled all over the rice. That, and those gelatinous flavourful skin. So yummy.

couldn't be happier munching on skin, rice with soy sauce

Not sure which stall Shermaine bought the chee cheong fun from, but it was interesting. When she mentioned that she wanted those with fillings like char siew, I'd thought she'd come back with the Hong Kong chee cheong fun version of thin smooth flour, wrapping the char siew bits and topped with fried shallots and drizzled with the light soy sauce. I was wrong.

chee cheong fun (min. order of 2 pieces) @$2.40

This version of chee cheong fun with the char siew filings, had quick thick skin much like our local chee cheong fun and the suace is the thick hoisin sauce. And because we had this much later, it was cold and the sauce had thickened a bit.

Next, was the char kway teow. Went around looking for it for about 5 minutes before I discovered that I had walked one whole big round when it was not too far away from our table. The queue starts at the side of the stall and there were about 6 pax in front of me. Each pax would take the uncle about 3 minutes to fry, so the waiting time was 21 minutes.

I opted for the $4 option and I overheard the aunty behind placing an order for $5 plate which the stall could accommodate. Pretty flexible.

almost there
uncle busy working the wok

Uncle would fry each order individually with a small spatula. Saw that he uses lard oil to fry the noodles. The aunty taking the order is friendly.

Everyone would just shuffle patiently in line and it was pretty exciting when the someone gets their plate. I overheard the tourist asking the person infront of him (presumably a local) about what's the difference of this char kway teow and the others in the food centre. The guy replied that he liked Hill Street version as it was less sweet compared to others.

aunty hands the order to you

Finally, it was my turn and I excitedly hurried over to our table with the plate of piping hot char kway teow.

Hill Street char kway teow 禧街炒粿條 @$4

On first bite, I nodded my head in agreement with the guy who said that this version was less sweet. Indeed! The noodles were tasty, with adequate lap cheong to up the notch. Cockles nowadays are smallish and these were no exception. A sprinkle of kuchai and sprouts so that these enhanced rather than overwhelmed the plate. I enjoyed this plate of char kway teow.

Thank you Kris, Tiara, Shermaine and Ivan for the Saturdate!

we were here
nice murals
Chinatown Saturdate

The 1950s Coffee 五十年代咖啡

Address: Block 335, Smith Street, Stall #02-048, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Contact: +65 8439 0434
Business Hours:
Daily: Mon to Sun - 7:00am to 8:30pm

Maria Virgin Chicken 瑪莉亞處女雞

Address: 335 Smith Street, Stall #02-189, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Business Hours:
Tue to Sun: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Closed on Mon & Fri

Hill Street Fried Kway Teow 禧街炒粿條

Address: 335 Smith St, Stall #02-32, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Business Hours:
Tues, Thurs, Sat: 11:00am - 6:30pm
Closed on Sun, Mon, Fri

Sunday, September 22, 2019

[Japan-Takayama] An Autumn Day Trip to Takayama 高山 (Mission to View Autumn Leaves and To Enjoy Hida Beef)

One of the things that I did while in Nagoya, was to take a day trip to Takayama. Main reason? Because I was looking for Hida beef. Wahahahha! Yes, will travel for food. Well, not all the time though. But I was already there at the northern part, so why not travel up further since I had the JR Pass.

train is approaching
onwards to Hida-furukawa

Since it was going to be a 2.5 hours long journey, naturally I'd brought food onboard to eat first. Just a random bento from Nagoya Train station.

miso katsu

It was supposedly miso katsu of pork/chicken and shrimps, I think. But the miso was really salty. The onsen egg was interesting. Least enjoyed this bento.

lovely scenery
美濃太田駅 Mino-Ota Station Train Master

autumn view from train
Takayama Train Station
Reached Takayama in the late morning, and I wanted to take a look at the autumn leaves first, so went to purchase the bus ticket to Hida Folk Village (飛騨の里).  The bus station is right next to the train station, so it was rather convenient. The destination was about 20 minutes away so lunch will have to wait.

bus ticket + entrance fee

small bus

let's go explore!
thatched roof!
lovely to walk around and enjoy the view
autumn is here~
close up view of the roof
beautiful colours

After admiring the beauty of autumn, it was time to head back to the town. However, there was a bit of traffic, and hence, lunch was delayed yet again. Was walking round and round in search for Hida beef. Only one chance, so need to decide wisely.

さるぼぼ Sarubobo

In Takayama, one will encounter Sarubobo which can be translated as monkey baby. Oh wait, I was supposed to be looking for food! Found a few, like beef sushi (pretty famous with long queues) but I didn't want to eat tiny piece of beef. Beef udon curry, hmmm but no, I think I want a steak.

the famed spot for tourists

I walked and walked, looked and looked and finally decided on one but the shop was closed! *gasps* Didn't realise that it was already 3pm where most restaurants or food places close for mid-day break. NooOOoo! Does this mean I will go back to Nagoya without ever tasting Hida beef? NooOOOooOO!

Luckily, one shop was still open for business so I hurried in. The place was empty saved for an elderly Japanese couple having their meal. Almost finishing, in fact.


The restaurant was of a nostalgic western styled and the ambiance was cosy. Feeling hungry but slightly out of place and a little awkward. いらっしゃいませ!I heard the greeting from the lady at the counter. I was alone so she asked if I could be seated at the counter. Yes, of course.


There wasn't any English word nor picture on the menu and I was too shy to ask for one. But I think I know the words on the menu with the price tag of 3,600 yen (about SGD46). "ステーキ", I said. The lady smiled and as there was no other order, the lady repeated it to the Chef, who looks like he is in his seventies.

green tea and menu

The place also serves sashimi as I could see the chiller at the counter but I didn't come all the way to have fish! The Chef cooks slowly and he melted the butter first, before seasoning it and then in goes the meat. He poured sauce onto the meat before covering it to cook for a little while. Meanwhile, the lady goes and scoop up some rice on a plate. Seems like I'm going to have steak and rice. Which is a first for me.

Finally, it was ready! Hahaha, it was rather amusing having rice with knife and fork. It was East meets West with miso soup and rice paired with beef steak and salad!

Hida Beef Steak Set Meal (rice and miso soup)

Hida Beef

The meat was tender but not fatty. Very gentle to chew. The sauce was similar to HP sauce with a tangy twist to it. The salad was fresh and miso soup was just nice for something to warm the tummy.

the shop signage

It was a good meal and I was full. But I still had an hour to spare before the train arrives. Decided to get a cup of coffee. Walked into Streamer's Coffee Company and the place was so spacious! There's a chic feel to the cafe.

Streamers Coffee Company
high benches

There are charging points on the table top, so that was really useful for us travelers. The baristas are young and cheerful looking. Polite and friendly. Plus, able to converse a little in English.

order at the counter

They have seasonal coffee but the flavour then was "Bubblegum". Hmmm, a tad too exotic for me to try so I opted for a safer drink called "Takumi", which is essentially, a latte.

Aya-san concentrating on the latte art

Thank you Aya-san for the beautiful cup of coffee. But the coffee was really a large cup and after having drunk half, I was already about to burst.


Coffee was smooth and not too acidic. Milk was not too overpowering too. No sugar was needed. After taking that last sip of the coffee, it was time to head to the train station to return to Nagoya.

Was lucky I didn't wait till last minute to head back to the train station because found out that there was a queue at the gate to enter the platform. I was somewhere in the first 20 of the queue and the gate remained steadfastly closed even though the train was to arrive in the next five minutes. Uh, felt a bit gancheong already because usually I'd already be waiting at the platform. Some other commuters were feeling the same and they went to enquire if it was really necessary to queue. The station master just motioned for commuters to wait in the queue.

With just 2 minutes remaining, the gate opened and we went in as quickly as possible. Took the escalator up to the platform and was able to board on time. Did not encounter this anywhere else as one usually just enters the gate with the ticket and then wait at the platform to board the train when it comes.

Was a nice day trip to Takayama and am missing the Hida beef and the cute barista there. Would like to go back there some day and to stay a night or two to explore more.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Amò @ 33 Hong Kong St

For our foodie Aug gathering, we were at Amò. An Italian Concept by Michelin Star Chef-Restaurateur Beppe De Vito.

Had a reservation at 7pm but was informed that we could only have our table until 830pm. Alright. Seems like this is one popular joint!

Arrived to a table that had started because some had arrived at 6+. The mushroom starter with egg confit and caramelized onions was really tasty. Made one feels like having a drink.

Roasted Mushrooms with Egg Confit and Caramelized Onions @$9++
Handcut fries with Rosemary and Truffle Mayo @$12++

My friends had started but they saved a slice of Margherita for me. This turned out to be very very good. When it comes to eating pizza, do you like to eat with fork and knife? Or, use the hand to roll it up before enjoying a big bite of it? I'm for the latter, even though we are in a classy place. It just made the eating much more enjoyable. And perhaps, enhanced the taste too? Hahaha!

Margherita DOP @$25++

I did order a gin-based drink called Jin-Aji. Lovely yuzu flavour, sweet and refreshing.

We had a couple more pizza and of course, meat. Just one meat though. Iberico Pork Chop sounded like a good choice. The best part? The meat just right above the bone.

Iberico Pork Chop with Spicy Broccolini and Celeriac Puree @$32++

Was mesmerized by the beautiful Broccolini, Pancetta, Pumpkin and Smoked Mozzarella pizza from its Signature series. It was leaning slightly to the sweeter side of things but the cheese and its vibrant colour, made us happy.

Broccolini, Pancetta, Pumpkin and Smoked Mozzarella @$28++

The last pizza that we had was the Pork Sausage pizza. First time am having potatoes as a topping on a pizza. Interesting! I love how the edges of the pizza was charred. It added character to the pizza.

Pork Sausage, Caramelized Onions, Potatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella @$29++

On average, we had eaten about 4 slices of pizza and abit of the rest. Ended up feeling rather full as these were not the thin crust pizza type, and we did finish all our crust.

Overall, the pizza was chewy and loved that it was laden with cheese. My favourite in terms of flavour was the margherita because of the tangy tomato based sauce and its familiar taste. The most beautiful had to be the pumpkin pizza and the pork sausage was interesting because of the potato topping but the last two were leaning towards the sweet side.

Suitable for date nights and expect to spend about $40 to $50 per pax.

complimentary dessert - chiacchiere

Thank you to the nice and attentive service crew at Amò. As well as for the plate of chiacchiere for us to try.

Special thanks to Hence who organized Aug dinner and Kris for making the reservation. Gathering of Alvin, Ivan, Hence, Kris, Shermaine and Rachelle.


Address: 33 Hongkong St, Singapore 059672
Contact: 6723 7733
Business Hours:
Daily:12-230pm,  6-11pm
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