Roaming Italy : Milan, Florence, Venice & Rome

'How has everyone been doing?'

"Oh, me?"

"I've been travelling the world!"

Okay, I was exaggerating. But I did in fact spent 10 days in Europe, Italy.(:

The trip was great; There were many firsts for me whatever it was, be it the sights I saw, the history I skimmed past, the bits and pieces of actual history standing in front of me or the food I ate, it was an eye-opening trip for me - in short, an amazing experience - wished it snowed though.

Life is imperfect and complains only make it worse - it didn't snow and there were foggy days - so let's be thankful for a safe and good trip, shall we? I'm a sucker for pictures when it comes to blog posts, and I'm sure you are too, so here's a little sneak peak into my trip's photos.

Milan Cathedral or, i like the Italian way of saying it better, Duomo di Milano :
Old Bridge Gelateria, Rome :
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome :
La Mosca Matta Restaurant, Rome :
Luna Rossa Restaurant, Milan :
S. Jacopino Restaurant, Florence :
Pearl Couscous with Grilled Lamb, flight to Hong Kong :

I hope the photos were good enough for a sneak peak! I'll still be travelling in the coming weeks, but I'll feed you guys with new and more beautiful photos once I get the chance to type my posts and edit my photos; So bear with me even if the posts are coming in slowly!

God bless.

Swiss Grill @ Coronation Plaza: SMRT Circle Line Makan Session With ladyironchef!

If grilled burgers and sausages are your thing, this is the place for you.

Originally known as Swiss Butchery only, they sold, and still are selling, quality cuts of meats and sausages. But as time passed, people thought they should start cooking and plating up their quality meats and sausages so that patrons can be saved of the hassle of cooking the meats themselves but yet enjoy just the same amount of gratification or even more while dining at the shop itself. 

Putting constructive suggestions into actions, they now have Swiss Grill implemented alongside Swiss Butchery where you can dine in house and you might just find yourself walking away with a few packets of their sausages or raw meats after a delicious and satisfying meal.

Oh, and did I mention that I was here by chance because I got picked for the SMRT Makan Session with Brad a.k.a ladyironchef? Yes, you can now travel to Coronation Plaza easily with just a short walk from Botanic Gardens station on the circle line. It'll take you less than 20mins from Bishan station.

Now, imagine sinking your teeth into a crispy burger bun that held a piece of tender chicken meat with crispy skin in the middle of it. 'Mmmmm...' 

Was the mental picture of the Grilled Chicken Burger ($14.90) beautiful? I would reckon so. It was exactly what I felt I had last Saturday. Swiss Grill had already gained its place in my heart on its first dish. Were the dishes to come going to have the same level of goodness or even more in them? Read on.
Okay, look, if you don't have any dietary requirements or religious beliefs that stops you from eating beef? You must try their Swiss Portabello Mushroom Burger ($15.90) even if beef is still not your thing yet. They're famed for this burger that boast of grilled premium chuck beef. I was a true convert of truly good beef burgers from the first bite onwards. Exaggeration? Try it for yourself.

The beef patty was grilled to a medium well doneness and had still had its juices sealed in that threatens to ooze out as you slice it with your knife to bite size portions. That was enough to elicit a 'woooo..', and the taste? Fantastic. The beef patty was moist and juicy, the portabello slices added the mushroomy flavour while a piece of pan fried bacon sealed it all up by adding the saltiness and crispiness the burger needed. What a well executed burger, what an exciting time to be able to discover a hidden gem!

On the other hand, the Grilled Cod Fish Burger ($16.90) (first photo), which was originally not included in our menu but it kindly served to us on the house, was disappointing. The cod fish is a mild tasting fish thus its taste was easily masked over by the herbed mayonnaise it was grilled with.
Well, after tasting their burgers, it was of course time for their sausages, another of their speciality. We had an assortment of sausages for our tasting. 4 kinds of sausages to be exact, as you can see. I wasn't sure what flavours there were but I would favour, I'm guessing, the Snail Sausage - the slightly grey sausage, second one from the left. The spices came through nice and aromatic while the sausage was nicely grilled to perfection. 

In addition, we had a creamy mushroom pasta which I couldn't locate on the menu but it was only passable though. However, I felt it's still alright because if I make a trip down here, it'll certainly be to eat their burgers and sausages and not their pastas. Don't worry, the convenience with the excellent grill will make your trip down to get there worthwhile. 
Brad & I
I can't emphasize this enough, remember, get their Swiss Portabello Mushroom Burger.

Now with the convenience of the circle line, have you used it to your advantage in your exploration of more good food? Share me the good eats near the circle line will you?

You can try signing up for the future makan sessions here, and rest assure, you don't have to have a blog and participants are slected with a random generator!

You may visit Swiss Grill for more information.

Thanks to Nuffnang and SMRT for hosting this makan session, and Brad for the excellent recommendation.

 Swiss Grill
587 Bukit Timah Road,
 Coronation Shopping Plaza, #01-05
Tel: (65) 6463 8080, 
Open 11.30am – 10pm (Tuesday – Sunday)

Saboten @ Changi Airport Terminal 1

Saboten is a popular Japanese chain restaurant that originates from Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighbourhood and has expanded to several countries such as Korea, Thailand and Singapore. 

In most cases, when someone weighs their options and locations for a meal, the airport will by far be the least likely to be mentioned, considered or even thought of at all. Simply because the airport does not did not have any really good food to rave about or it is completely out of the way for most.

That is, in the past. Right now, with 4 terminals in operation and new and popular restaurants opening up there, Changi Airport has no lack of good food; Eventually, it might be the norm to dine at the airport.      
Chicken it was for me yesterday night and so I had the Katsu Chicken Supreme Set (top photo) and it certainly didn't disappoint - the items were nicely breaded and fried to a crisp and did not left a greasy aftertaste - but the only fly in the ointment was that the chicken was dry. It would have been perfect if the juices of the chicken were packed in, resulting in a really tender and moist piece of chicken encased in a crispy outer shell of panko. The mayonnaise and tonkatsu salvaged it a little though. The fried ebi/shrimp, was good though, crunchy and succulent, it went great with the tonkatsu sauce as well.   

Famed for their tonkatsu, I had a taste of it from my aunt's Saboten Special Set and found the pork to better but still a little too dry. 

There was free flow of rice, and shredded cabbage which went well with the creamy sesame sauce they have, with our set meals. There was even dessert included, a small scoop of matcha ice cream that I thought delicious with its milky and not too strong matcha flavour.

Oh by the way, Hiroshima oysters are in season now I think and Saboten is currently offering them at their restuarants, deep fried. So do go down and try them soon if you're a big fan of oysters because it is for a limited period only!

After all that's said and eaten, I would recommend you to put the airport on your mental list the next time you're thinking of a place to eat, and also do ntoe that most restaurants are currently located at T3 though. (take the skytrain if you're in other terminals!) 

80 Airport Boulevard 
#031-004 Departure Check-in Hall Level 3 
Changi Airport Terminal 1 
Tel: 6214 9504
Daily: 8am – 10.30pm

Hot Tomato Express : Sizable Portions At Reasonable Prices

Feeling a little sick of other western food stalls and not wanting to spend above $14 to satisfy a steak craving? I'll recommend the Hot Tomato Express, especially when you're in the vicinity of Plaza Singapura at Dhoby Ghaut.

Here at Hot Tomato Express, you do get to satisfy your steak craving under $14 and they also serve up other western food all within a range of $10 ++. I had the Steak N Prawn for $12.90, and it came with a small salad and spaghetti. That made the meal complete. Although the steak was a little tough and overcooked on some parts (I ordered medium well) and the prawns were not extremely fresh, I was glad I wasn't served a chunk of fats and two miserable looking prawns; It wasn't top quality steak or live prawns but I sure did enjoy my meal.

My friends had Grilled Dory Fish, which didn't taste very fresh, and the Seafood Linguine Pasta that looked absolutely tantalising with two succulent looking prawns and other seafood. The pasta tasted as good as it looked according to my friend.

While you're at Hot Tomato, give their tiramisu cake a go although it might not exactly be the cheapest slice of cake you're going to have but I had a taste of it, and it was delicious.

The standard of food here might be considered mediocre to some, but as far as I'm concerned, they didn't promise a slab of wagyu beef or anything like that and served up pretty decent dishes so I have no complains, and for the kind of price I'm paying, I would definitely return to try their other dishes.

Have you given Hot Tomato a go? What's your verdict, worth a try or you'll rather pass?

Hot Tomato Express
68 Orchard Road
#B2-40 Plaza Singapura
Opening Hours : Daily 11am - 10pm

Garden Street Kway Chap : Smooth Kway

Very much raved about by my teacher, is the kway chap stall at Serangoon Gardens. Garden Street Kway Chap, as it is called, only operates half a day before they're closed and you have to come back earlier if you want to have a taste of it.

Said to be the best kway chap by my teacher, naturally I had pretty high expectations of it. It was a spread on the table - bowls of kways, braised beancurd skin, chye buay, plates of braised innards and others filling the entire hawker table. I was in for a treat that morning. Yup, you heard me, kway chap for breakfast. Why not? Haha.

Notably was the kway, which is really smooth, and the chye buay, which was soft and so, different from the usual crunchy kind. The braising sauce and all was good but a little too subtle for me, would have preferred it be stronger.

Any die hard kway chap fans that have tried this store and would disagree with me on this point?

Garden Street Kway Chap
Serangoon Gardens Food Centre
8am to 3pm
Closed on Mondays

Hoi Tu Hong Kong Roast & Popiah @ Lian Wah Kopitiam (Ang Mo Kio)

These are roasted duck thighs from a Hong Kong Roast stall. Visually enticing isn't it?  Its taste didn't match up though. Perhaps because we came late and most of the roast were already sold out so we did not get to taste the roasted glazed pork or char siew that we had came here for in the first place.

The duck was not too dry and its skin still had a slight crisp to it, but it didn't come about as superb and I felt the duck was a little too fatty. I would definitely return at some other instance, earlier next time too, to try their other roasts.
There is also a popiah stall that resides in this small coffeshop that sells pretty good popiah. To be honest, I was blown away with the popiah here on my first try awhile back, when I was expecting only an average one, because it had something crispy within it that left an impression on me.
This time round, armed with my camera, I found out that (actually my mom asked) this uncle adds fried bits of egg flour into his popiah to give his popiah the extra crisp. However, I didn't get the mind blowing sensation when I had them this time round- the popiah was too moist from the cooked yam bean, probably because the uncle didn't drain out them well enough. That said, I would still strongly encourage you to try this popiah if you ever visit this coffeeshop, it's certainly worth a try.

Have you tried any popiahs or roast that you would highly recommend? Share with me by leaving a comment on the bottom, thank you.  

Lian Wah Kopitiam

Blk 133 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3

Forty Hands Cafe: Coffee And Brunch

Having a meal in between breakfast and lunch - brunch - because you wake up late, feeling famished and feeling lost on how to spend your time so filling up your tummy becomes the utmost priority. Furthermore, as if that isn't enough, I had it on a weekday with a classmate. #likeaboss
Coffee, dim lighting and big menus pinned on the wall are some of the things available at Forty Hands cafe. Located at Tiong Bahru, this place is a getaway from the crowds during off peak hours but be warned, it can get quite packed and noisy during the weekends and meal times here.

Gotta love the big pin up menus. Oh, and there's free wifi here as well so you can use it to your heart's content.
We tasted the sandwiches and between the Jamaican Pork (above) and the Mediterranean Lamb, my friend liked the Jamaican Pork better. I, however, think that both are on par.

The Jamaican Pork was sweet and tangy with a slice of mango and a mix of pulled pork, raisins, cheese and plum chutney between two slices of toast. The Mediterranean Lamb, on the other hand, had a very distinct taste of herbs and spices, with a mix of fetta cheese, minced lamb, basil, tomato and olives. None were fabulous in taste, but they will suffice for a small brunch.
Their coffee was nice and robust, a cup of latte for me and a cup of mocha for my friend.

All in all, a nice place to be at during the off peak hours for some peace and time out. But I wouldn't stick around long during meal times because it really does get a little too noisy for me.

Have you been to this cafe? What would you recommend here? Is there other cafes around Tiong Bahru area that you would recommend as well? Do leave a comment on the below to share with me, thank you.

DayPlus Buns: Your One Stop Convenient Japanese Bun

Does the packaging looks familiar or you vaguely recall yourself eating it? Yes? No? Yes, I wouldn't say it's absolutely wrong to assume that most already know about this bun or rather, seen it and, even tasted it. If you didn't already know it is made in Singapore, a local product!

This isn't my first time trying them but I had the opportunity to try two within a day. Okay, I love breads, don't you?
The wholemeal bun is a little firmer in texture, though it's still soft and fluffy, probably because of the addition of wholemeal flour. I didn't enjoy this red bean flavour as much, because I was expecting a red bean paste-like filling but the filling is more like mushy whole red beans that still hold their shape and, there was too little filling so I couldn't really taste it.  
The purple potato paste bun was much better; The bun was cotton-like soft and fluffy while the filling tasted really like purple potatoes themselves though it lacked the texture, the filling existed in a gel like paste and it was a little too sweet for me.

To to able to get a bun at around a dollar from a convenient store near to you, I say they're worth it. Also, I have yet to try their other flavours - they do have up to 12 and more flavours for your selection - but I will soon! They are available at most local 7-Eleven stores or mini marts.

Do get their wholemeal buns if you like your buns slightly chewier, or the normal bun if you love soft buns.

Have you tried these buns before, which flavour is your favourite and which those you would recommend? Do let me know by leaving a comment below, thank you!

Bishan North Late Night Kway Chap: Fancy A Bowl Of Kway Chap To Satisfy Your Late Night Hunger?

8.30pm till 4am, yes, that is this stall's operating hours.

Located at the coffeeshop diagonally opposite salvation army - where my church is currently residing at and my study hideout - I have been eyeing for a chance to try this stall's kway chap for awhile now. Yea, usually I succumb to hunger or other temptations first heh.

I guess to be waiting for dinner at 8.30pm, anyone would famished by then and with the observation of a perpetual queue, I had high expectations set for it. It turned out to be otherwise, though not completely so.
Some sections of the braised innards were overcooked while the salty vegetable was way too salty for me. However, to be fair, yes the braising sauce is delicious and would compliment very well with a bowl of rice anytime. The well cooked sections of the innards were also tender and did not carry any foul odour but the three layer meat could have been leaner.

All in all, a dinner I would deliberately wait for? I don't think so. But a late night dinner, if I happen to be in the vicinity during its operating hours? Most probably.

Do you know of other late night supper or kway chap places that you would highly recommend? Share with me by leaving a comment below, thank you.

Bishan North Late Night Kway Chap
KPT Blk 284 Bishan Street 22
8.30pm - 4am

$2 Fishball Noodle: Cheapest Way To Settle Your Meal

With quality, comes a price to pay; Yet, low cost doesn't necessarily equates to no quality. Here at Ang Mo Kio Blk 527 Food Centre, there's a stall (I'm quite certain there are a couple around Singapore) that have their menu priced at a flat rate of $2.
What a easy and uncostly way to get your meal settled should you be tight on your budget and wanna settle for a decent meal; Don't expect much here - just a humble bowl of fishball noodles or meatball, if you like your balls meatier.
I would suggest you to try their fishballs because my dad said they're good compared to my meatballs, which tasted like frozen ones.

Have a good and cheap meal! Anyone knows where there are other stalls just like this and taste pretty good? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you.

San Yuan Gourmet Fishball And Minced Meat Noodles 

Block 527 Market & Food Centre

Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 #01-148

Lao San Kway Chap: Is This The Kway Chap?

Is this the kway chap you and I have been waiting for? Time will tell.

I was here previously and was served a bowl of diluted kway chap that put me off and I didn't get to try their braised pig offals too so I am was convinced I was done with this kway chap store but hey, everyone deserves a second chance don't they?

Maybe I was too quick to judge but boy, was I glad I tried it a second time. This time round, the bowl of kway came piping hot with just the right amount of braised sauce mixed in, and some fried shallots and fried shallot oil to top it all off; A delicious bowl of kway indeed.
The Cai Buay was crispy and had a nice balance between it's saltiness and sweetness.  
If you're eating kway chap then I insist that you must try their braised pig offals, only that will give you a good judgement on how good the kway chap store is, besides the kway of course.

The braised innards here are wonderfully braised to perfection. The intestines are tender and packed full of flavour from the braising. These were good enough to elicit a 'mmmm..' from me, so do conquer your fear of pig offals if you have one because you are missing out a lot!

I shalln't be so quick to judge anymore because time will tell if this store's kway chap is indeed the best as I go around trying other kway chap and be back to do a collation.

Do you agree that this store's kway chap is very good? Or do you have another personal favourite that you would love to share? Please do leave a comment on the bottom to let me know, thank you.

Lao San Kway Chap
Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3
6am to 12mn

Closed on Monday

The Coffee Daily : Come Get Your Daily Dose Of Caffeine

You are in the neighbourhood of Serangoon, looking for a quiet place for a chat or to get a cup of coffee and be by yourself, where do you go? Turn into 75 Brighton Crescent and look for The Coffee Daily.

Yup, that's a new cafe which opened not too long ago, where Awfully Chocolate used to be. 

Love the décor of the place - simple, rustic, old fashioned. Now, perhaps a cup of coffee to perk you up?
The cup of Latte with Roasted Almonds was aromatic and fragrant with the smell and rawness of coffee. The only thing I was looking for was the scent and taste of roasted almonds, it was subtle, maybe a little too subtle.
Their Ice Mocha is worth a try, if you're a cold coffee kind of person.

They do sell cakes, pastries and some staples here like all cafes do. Their specialities - smoked duck cibatta and shepherd's pie - ain't restaurant standard but for warm, comfort food, they'll make the mark anyday.
I didn't managed to try any of their pastries but I was told the carrot cake here is good; I'll be back. So come, for some peace and serenity and, let a cup of coffee and some comfort food warm your stomach and perk you up on a lazy day.

Oh, and have you been passing by here without noticing this new cafe in your own neighbour? Now you know, now you see. Let me know if there's anything delicious to eat.

The Coffee Daily
75 Brighton Crescent
Tue – Sun, 9am – 6pm
Fri, 9am – 4pm
Closed on Mondays 

Tel: 6284 8894  

Update 8/9/2012  : The cafe is now closed.

Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh: Malaysian Style Pork Ribs Soup

Was actually here at this coffeeshop to try the Crab Shack that was featured on tv and got my mom 'harassing' me to try, heh. Thanks for the scouting Mom. But due to the overwhelming response, they had no choice but to turn away customers; they had quite a number of backlog on hand and so warned us that the minimum wait would 2hrs.

Good food is always worth the wait but with the exams just round the corner, that could wait.

This isn't my first time tasting the Bak Kut Teh here and it tasted not too bad - some of the pork ribs were tender while others were slightly tough and sadly it didn't achieve the fall-off-bone kind of tenderness.

Perhaps my tastebuds tango better with the teochew style bak kut teh, I found myself bracing for a peppery-spicy sensation with a sip of the soup. But it wasn't the case here; the malaysian style bak kut teh here is more on the gentler, herbal side. So if you're dislike the teochew style bak kut the, why not give this a try?

In addition, we ordered the Deep Fried Prawn Roll aka Hei Zou from the tze char stall at the coffeeshop. I didn't like the texture of it, too mushy inside and there were too little pieces of water chestnut to give it a good crunch.

I would return to this coffeeshop to try the other stall but not make a special visit for these two stalls.

Hong Ji Claypot Pork Rib Soup

Blk 107 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4
Tel: 9191 2614
Singapore 560107
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