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November 2016

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You can’t go wrong with fish and chips. 

-Michael Sandel

Dive bars used to get a lot of stick back in the days for being shoddy; even the name supposedly comes from people diving under tables whenever a bar fight broke out!

Sam’s Cottage’s Fish & Chips

But nowadays, it’s a label for a place of quaintness and good ol’ get-together. It started with a simple wish from Mr Samuel Sam over 10 years ago: to have a place where people in the neighbourhood can get together. With blocks of condominium apartments all over the Dairy Farm Estate where his dive bar is situated, he feels that neighbours don’t interact with one another as often as they used to back in the ‘kampung’ days. Home to many is just a hiding place to rest before the next day comes. He also finds it a safer alternative to heading out for drinks and possibly driving to bars elsewhere; several years before the Upper Bukit Timah area is connected by train with the new Downtown Line, which only started operation in late 2015.

It was a weekday when I first visited and even then there were quite a few residents just enjoying a pint or having some of Sam’s signature menu item: Classic English Fish & Chips.

Sam's CottageSam's CottageSam's Cottage

Like at any respectable Fish & Chips place, you get the  food piping hot and wrapped up in white paper. The fish has nice golden-brown batter and fluffy white meat, and the chips are well, chips! These are best accompanied with generous sprinkles of salt and malt vinegar. Now, although you can’t beat serving traditional cod fish, his take on the dish is decently done.

Other than Fish & Chips, Sam’s also takes pride in having free Heineken beer on tap, which turnovers relatively quickly. Supposedly, no keg is left unfinished after 2-3 days, tops! Here’s Sam himself taking pride in serving only the freshest food and drinks to his loyal following of customers:

The place itself is a perfect example of what this website seeks out: a quaint place that’s serves really good food, has a good ambiance, and serves a really niche group of customers but definitely deserve a lot of attention. With seating for just over a dozen inside and a handful of tables in the alfresco, it can get quite bustling on weekends. The bar is also run in a very relaxed and open style. Sam shows a great affection to everyone, and remembers almost all their names!  If you’re lucky enough, you can challenge Sam to a game of darts or fuzzball. But don’t ever think that he’ll make it easy for you!

Sam’s carefree attitude to running the place is even more reflected, the bar’s opening hours are “when he comes” and closes “when he leaves” (translated: about 8pm to 12am, with some variance). But don’t even fret; Sam is honest and reliable to a tee and will always be ready to let you have a place to unwind, mingle and have great food!
Sam's Cottage Sam's CottageSam's Cottage

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
This place doesnt just feel hole-in-the-wall, it represents it!

Price:
Be prepared to shell out a little bit more for fresh food and beer, although it is not very big of a pinch

Quality:
Decent quality Fish & Chips and other finger food like chicken drumlets, with clean Heineken beer on tap

Overall:
If you’re not put off by the distance because you live in the #eastsidebestside, or you live in the west, it’s worth visiting what could be one of Singapore’s best dive bars, tucked away in a little corner called Dairy Farm Estate!

Sam's Cottage Fish & Chips

Bonus: Check out their 90s spot commercial below!

More Information

Sam’s Cottage
17 Dairy Farm Rd
Dairy Farm Estate,
#B1-09
Singapore 679043
Opens daily from about 8pm to midnight, or as Sam puts it: “Sam’s Cottage is open when he comes and closes when he leaves”.
Phone: 6766 3907
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Sams-Cottage-169232239761773/


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I was very impressed with the street food of Singapore. I was very impressed with the dishes that they did.

-Jose Andres

Like previously when I went to eat another egg dish, Fried Carrot Cake, or 菜头粿 (chai tow kway), is a local adaptation of long-running recipes from other lands. It is brought over by early Teochew-speaking Chinese immigrants where it is called fried starch cake, or 炒糕粿 (chao gao guo) , without the delicious eggs we associate it together with.

From yoursingapore.com’s website:

Teochew hawker Ng Soik Theng claims to be the first to have called this dish ‘chai tow kway‘ in the 1960s when she added white radish to it. Another hawker, Lau Goh, is said to have popularised the white version.

Oyster Omelette, or 蚝煎 (orh jian), similarly has a Southern Chinese origin and likely adapted to the local and Malaysian palette after some time.

Soon Lee Cooked Food 顺利熟食 Fried Oyster Omelette & Carrot Cake (蚝煎, 菜头粿)

As promised, this is another stall in Haig Road Cooked Food Centre!

soonlee-03094

The stall owner Mdm Neo, whom I fondly call “Auntie” as far as I can remember, has been here since the hawker centre came around at about 1979 (37+ years)! The menu is one that is a unique and common sight in Singapore: stalls that sell mainly fried egg dishes; an “egg-ophile” heaven, you might put it.

soonlee-03093soonlee-03099 soonlee-03097

The eggs in both the oyster omelette and fried carrot cake are really fluffy without feeling oily and giving you the ‘gelat’ feeling even wolfing down the whole plate. Soon Lee’s little secret is that unlike some other stalls, the stall owner uses vegetable oil as the main oil and doesn’t add lard in the frying process.

Personally, i prefer the ‘white’ fried carrot cake although I relish in a good plate of the ‘black’ version (stir-fried in black soya sauce) any day. Mdm Neo’s ‘white’ version is nice with generous mouthfills of ‘chai poh’ (dried preserved radish) to give it the extra kick! Add that to fresh chopped spring onions and you got yourself a true Singaporean snack!

Also, after more than 10-15 years of patronising, auntie remembers that I cannot take seafood and prepares a special version of the omelette without oysters! So you, my dear readers, got to tell me how it taste like, although those that I have brought to try it over the years have commented that the oysters are decently fresh!

The Verdict

soonlee-03100

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s a hawker stall, so definitely has the charm!

Price:
Prices start from $2.50 and onwards to $10 for really big plates. Personally the $4 plates are enough for a meal.

Quality:
Eggs are eggs are eggs. Cooked with fresh ingredients, although some may not prefer the lack of lard-laden oiliness and heavy flavours.

Overall:
Come try it!

More information

Soon Lee Cooked Food (顺利熟食)
14 Haig Road
Haig Road Cooked Food Centre
#01-57
Singapore 430014
Opens Daily but has no fixed hours; generally 10:00am – 9:00pm


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When I’m not longer rapping, I want to open up an ice cream parlor and call myself Scoop Dogg.

-Snoop Dogg

With an annual average temperature in the tune of 26-27 degree Celsius and even more sometimes, it’s no wonder ice cream and other frozen desserts are much coveted here in sunny Singapore. From classic stalwarts like Swensen’s and Häagen-Dazs, to heartland favourites like Wall’s Cornetto Cone or King’s Paddle Pop, and even the newcomers like llao llao, Udders, and many other small cafes; the list is seemingly endless! It seems nothing out of the ordinary that another ice cream store joins the fray right?

Dofu Black Soy Ice Cream

dofu ice cream

Dofu is a pretty new entry into the dessert market, just opening August 2016. Tucked away in the temporary Yishun Bus Interchange, you may need a little bit of eye-power to spot it when you arrive. At first look, you will wonder what sort of concoction is being served. I mean, grey ice cream?!

dofu ice cream

Turns out the grey colour of the ice-cream comes from the bamboo charcoal added into the mixture. It has many claims of health benefits such as improved blood circulation and improving metabolism, with some studies showing that a diet including activated charcoal (i.e. what bamboo charcoal is essentially) reduced LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and improving HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) levels in the blood.

Dofu also prizes its ice cream as no added fats, no artificial colouring and flavouring. It also naturally contains (from the soy beans) alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid essential for normal human growth and development, and is suggested to promote cardiovascular health.

Vegans rejoice, for their ice cream and pudding does not contain gelatin and is vegan-friendly!

027_5670x4508_all-free-download-comSo what do you get in a cup? The beancurd pudding (also grey) is filled at the bottom, followed by soft-serve ice cream made from premium dehulled Non-GMO soya beans. There are three ‘sizes’ available, which actually only varies in the number of toppings you get; from the more conventional chocolate products and other sauces to their signature flavoured ‘popping balls’, which burst into flavours when you chew on it. For the uber health buffs there are also granola and nut toppings, as well as fresh fruit bits.

Can’t make up your mind? Then you can try out any 6 of their ‘Dofu Creations‘ crafted for maximum pleasure!

dofu ice creamdofu ice cream

For my creation, it has chocolate flakes, and mango-flavoured popping balls. The ice cream itself does not taste overly sweet and mixes well into the toppings’ flavours. So in my opinion it’s important that you have your favourite toppings on it!

Right now, they also have a promotion where you can choose to purchase a pre-paid loyalty card for $12, and they will give you additional $5 value! On top of that you get a FREE ice cream upon purchase of the card! Such dofu, much ice cream, so wow!

The Verdictdofu ice cream

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
A store smack in the middle of a temporary bus interchange, it takes a little bit of footwork to locate.

Quality: 
Ice cream is smooth and well-made with plenty of toppings to choose from. I probably should have picked more fruity and nutty options though.

Price: 
Prices start at $4.90 for just 2 toppings to $6.90 for a whopping 7 toppings. With big servings, it’s not your paddle pop pricing but definitely a good bang for the buck!

Overall: 
If you’re in Yishun, heck even if you live in the east like me (#eastsidebestside), come check it out!

More Information

Dofu
20A Yishun Central
#01-05
Yishun Temporary Bus Interchange
Singapore 768830
Open from 11:00am to 8:30pm daily.
Website: http://dofuco.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dofu.sg/

Dofu’s ice cream and chilled pudding are labelled as vegan.

Author’s note: When you enter the bus interchange from Northpoint’s direction, turn right and walk along the path until you see Dofu’s store!


GIVEAWAY

Dofu has kindly given me a limited edition membership card with $17 ($12 + $5 free) value stored in it, together with some coupons. I have decided to pass this on as a giveaway on my facebook page. Read the post below and find out how to win yourself some free black soy ice cream!

Contest starts on 16 Nov 2016 12:00pm (Wednesday) and closes on 20 Nov 2016 11:59pm (Sunday). Open to residents of Singapore only.


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Back when I was working in Tanjong Pagar, it’s a challenge to find a place away from the hustle and bustle of Maxwell and Amoy Food Centres,  AND not get ripped off badly for it.

Except, we did.

Restaurant Bar Jazz @ The Southbridge Hotel

What started as one of my colleague’s misadventure turned out to be one of the bigger finds in my time there. Situated just a stone throw away from Chinatown MRT, it is the place to be if you are looking for a short reprieve from whatever your workday may present you.

southbridge-hotel-03201 southbridge-hotel-03185

When you enter the restaurant you can choose if you’d like the ‘outdoor’ or indoors seating. Attractive and reasonably priced lunch sets are laid out for your pleasure, from chicken cutlets to juicy ribeye steaks. As we have been patronizing them for some time already, we’ve also been given ‘premium’ membership cards which give us 50% off main courses from 11:00am-3:00pm.

southbridge-hotel-03200 southbridge-hotel-03195

Still hungry and want more after your meal? You can order some Mövenpick ice cream for some dessert. The place is also known as a decent whisky bar with an array of whiskies to choose from, and they serve archipelago beer for good measure. Of course, who can resist the lunch-time drink once in a while?

southbridge-hotel-03191

If you’re more inclined to come at night however, you get to hear their resident band, The Malt Trio, croon your post-work depression away:

 The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s a hotel restaurant that’s pretty sizey, so not that much of a hole there.

Price: 
It’s a bit dear (set lunches start at $14.80+ with soup and a soft drink/coffee/tea) which is expected of a restaurant, but with plenty of lunch + tea time promotions, no one’s complaining!

Quality:
Despite the heavy promotion, food is well-prepared and generous.

Overall;
Need a place to hide from the hustle and bustle? Try this out if you want to.

More Information

Restaurant Bar Jazz @ The Southbridge Hotel
210 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058759
Restaurant open from 7:00am to 2:00am daily
Website: http://www.thesouthbridgehotel.com/
Email (for reservation): reservation@thesouthbridgehotel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/thesouthbridgehotel
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesouthbridgehotel/

 

p.s. you can book a hotel room there on their website and various hotel booking websites if you’re travelling to Singapore!


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Some images embedded from The Southbridge Hotel’s Facebook and Instagram pages

Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it’s too assertive to the naked eye

– Gordon Ramsay

rosynora-02876

Roti John is a peculiar dish. A product of the diasporic nature of early Singapore, nobody really knows its true origin. Except that it is a MacGyver-esque concoction in the 1960s, where an anonymous Malay hawker was asked by yet another anonymous Caucasian for a hamburger. Given the obvious lack of hamburgers, the hawker slathered a mixture of minced mutton, onions, and fried while coated with scrambled eggs (Source).

There are many places with long and famous history of selling Roti John, but today brings me to somewhere close in my childhood: Haig Road.

Rosy & Nora

rosynora-02882

Named after the two eponymous stallholders, this stall has been up and running for at least 35 years. Even ‘Kak’ (Sister) Rosy, who usually runs the show herself nowadays, cannot put an exact date to their long-running enterprise! Situated in Haig Road Market & Food Centre, most first-timers can easily miss their bright orange signboard in the glittering array of tasty Malay and Indian Muslim cuisine.

The Roti John

Roti John is usually made with a local variant of the French baguette that is shorter and supposedly softer in texture. I’ve been to quite a few Roti John stalls (including those that you find at the Pasar Malam here in Singapore), and always felt that their bread is still quite tough and chewy, perhaps due to overcooking as well.

However Rosy & Nora’s take on the iconic dish has always made me feel at home, as it is very much fluffier and has a generous layer of scrambled eggs and onions. Coupled with their secret chilli gravy dip, it’s a good balance of sweetness, acidity and savouriness coming from the spiced minced mutton and egg spread.

Rosy & Nora don’t just sell Roti John of course. Drop by during dinner and you will see unwavering lines of people coming in waves ordering the popiah (spring rolls;), burgers, and ball kentang (potato) served with soup as well. At just tree-fiddy ($3.50) per half-loaf of delicious bread, you can hardly get better value elsewhere. The Popiahs come in two options: Goreng (deep-fried) or Basah (“wet”, otherwise just the usual spring roll we know)

PopiahRoti John

One more to note: although various other food guides state their opening hours as 2pm-10pm, it often sells-out as early as 7:30pm!

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s a hawker stall, come on! However, it is very popular among the regulars and during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, be prepared for Mcdonald’s-hello-kitty-toys magnitude of queuing nearing dinner time!

Price:
At tree-fiddy, it’s hard to beat.

Quality:
Some may discount the quality for the lack of intense mutton flavour compared to other popular Roti John stalls, but the combination of the chilli dip with the generous egg and onion spread more than makes up for it!

Overall:
Come and try it one day!

p.s. More Haig Road hole in the wall reviews coming up!

More Information

Rosy & Nora
14 Haig Road
Haig Road Cooked Food Centre
#01-15
Singapore 430014
Opens Daily from 2:00pm to 10:00pm

Rosy & Nora sells Halal-certified food.


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“Do excuse us because we’re blur about everything, Except our burgers…. Maybe”  

– Two Blur Guys

Prime Beef Burger w/ Streaky Bacon

I used to work in the Tanjong Pagar area for the last few years, and even before I went on my trip to Japan (read my about page!), I’ve already known of their existence  whilst passing by to somewhere else to eat. Since then, I go there time to time when i need to get my occasional burger fix. Started by two mysterious blur guys in 2012 to share their love for blurgers burgers and pastries and did so when they found their very own hole in the wall (a ha!)

Located along the facade of the Orchid Hotel (towards Tanjong Pagar Road), amongst a myriad of  Japanese ramen and sushi restaurants, it’s not difficult to spot their monochromatic front display. Stepping in, you have to slide through the narrow pathway with space for a dozen, and a slick glass counter stuffed full of burger buns!

Front facade of the shop Counter inside the store

Burger it up!

On the menu, these guys pack a list of prime-beef burgers, although they are also known for their pulled-pork burger and pastries (couldn’t try as we were quite full) . Today, I ordered the Prime Beef with Streaky Bacon (mmm, bacon!). Each set is generously served with cheese-drizzled potato wedges and some green. Click here for a link to their menu, but be sure to check in once in a while as they update it with new gourmet creations now and then! Also, they do stock some beer on tap and in bottles that sometimes go on promotion (depends, they don’t have a fixed schtick going on) which is good news for you guzzlers!

Prime Beef Burger w/ Streaky Bacon Prime Beef Burger w/ Streaky Bacon 

Prime Beef Burger w/ Streaky Bacon

Some would feel that the portions are a tad small, but I feel that it’s reasonable. Taste-wise, you can taste the quality of the meat (and not some random chuck meat leftover from the butchery). Having it served up on a wooden board does make it presentable and easy to eat as well!

It’s definitely not the cheapest lunch you can find in town (mine costed S$17.95 before service charge) but it does show its worth with fresh ingredients and no-nonsense presentation.

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness :
Definitely has the vibe of a hole in the wall restaurant. The place had a few other diners as well, with decent turnover although it was never full.

Price:
Not the cheapest, but not unreasonably priced.

Quality:
Decent, fresh ingredients that are made and served piping hot.

Overall: 
Worth giving a try if you are in the area!

More Information

Two Blur Guys

1 Tras Link, #01-13,
Orchid Hotel
Singapore 078867
+65-66364183
Opens daily from 11:00am to 10:00pm

Website: https://twoblurguys.sg/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/twoblurguys/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/twoblurguys/

E-mail : twoblurguys@gmail.com

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