BOON TONG KEE in Balestier Road

Boon Tong Kee is known for their chicken rice but over the years, many regulars like myself will be quick to assert that it’s not just their luscious fowls that keep us coming back.

As appetiser, we got a little handful of soft steamed peanuts (S$2) and another small handful of char siew (grilled pork) (S$4). The shiny char siew was a bit fatty, which made it all the better because it gave it that melt-in-your-mouth sensation. My friends didn’t quite like it because of the fats, but I happily lapped it up.

Char Siew (Grilled Pork) & Steamed Peanuts

As far back as I can remember, the Deep Fried Bean Curd (S$6) has been one of their signature dishes. Crispy on the outside; soft and smooth inside. The mayo dip is a must. So simple yet so satisfying.

Fried Bean Curd

For the chicken, we were recommended the Tasty Imperial Chicken (S$18 for half chicken). What so “royal” about it? Well, we were told the chicken is specially picked and chosen among many others. Honestly, it didn’t seem to taste much different from the normal chicken. Maybe it’s just a little more golden in colour. But it still tasted fantastic with the perfect texture of the meat and softness of the skin.

Tasty Imperial Chicken

Fried Spinach with Assorted Eggs (S$9) has been my standard order at many Chinese restaurants. The goodness of spinach topped with 3 different types of eggs – normal, salted and century, gives that inter-play of tastes and texture that leaves me scooping its gravy to the very last drop.

Spinach With Assorted Eggs

Another plate of comfort food – Sweet and Sour Pork (S$10). I used to work near Balestier and I remember driving myself to Boon Tong Kee many times, just for the Sweet and Sour Pork (and rice), for lunch. Unfortunately, the quality has gone down somewhat but it is still very palatable.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Boon Tong Kee
401 Balestier Road
Singapore 329803

Operation Hours
Mon – Sat: 11am – 4.45pm / 5.30pm – 4.30am
Sun: 11am – 4.45pm / 5.30pm – 2.30am

For information on other outlets, visit

Breakfast at JONES THE GROCER in Dempsey Hill

Jones the Grocer at Dempsey Hill seems to have customers all day round, throughout the week. Even during weekday mornings, when Dempsey Hill seems asleep, Jones would already have a handful of customers enjoying a cuppa or a hearty breakfast. It gets a lot more crowded on weekends and finding seats tend to be more challenging.

The breakfast menu, available from 9am t0 mid-day isn’t extensive but sufficient. For weekends, they have an extra brunch menu available from 12pm to 5pm.

In my opinion, Jones serves one of the better coffees in town. The coffee is strong, fragrant and rich. And the latte art that never fails to give me that little extra joy when the coffee is served.


To get a good mix of savory and sweet, I shared the Spanish Egg “En Cocotte” (S$19.50) and the Coconut Pancake (S$13.50). The fluffy pancake came with palm sugar syrup and a single scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of fresh mango pieces. I always find it difficult to finish the pancake alone so it is best to share this with a few friends. And I would also quickly move the scoop of ice cream to the side of the plate, so it doesn’t melt so quickly and the pancake doesn’t end up soaking it up. I don’t like my pancakes soggy.

Coconut Pancakes

The delicious egg dish was baked with baby spinach, Jones’ tomato relish, and bacon, and served with 2 thick slices of sourdough bread. I love it! When my friend and I were discussing why it was so good, we concluded that it was the tomato relish.

Eggs Baked With Spinach, Tomato Relish And Bacon With Sourdough Bread

Jones the Grocer
Dempsey Hill Block 9, #01-12
Dempsey Road, Dempsey Hill
Singapore, 247697
(Visit this link for the Singapore outlets –

Opens from 9:00am – 11:00pm daily

Ayam Penyet at RESTO SURABAYA in Far East Plaza

I found a new place in Orchard to have Ayam Penyet – Resto Surabaya in Far East Plaza. This restaurant seems less popular to the Ayam Penyet restaurant a few doors away but my friends and I find the food here better.

If you don’t want a fried dish, you have to try the healthier Ayam Bakar (Grilled Chicken) (S$6).  Complement it with a plate of Stir-fried Kangkung Belacan (S$5.50) or Tahu Telor (Deep Fried Beancurd with Shrimp Paste) (S$6).

Ayam Bakar (Grilled Chicken)
Cah Kangkung (Stir-Fried Kangkung Belacan)

Don’t forget to ask for more belacan chilli. It has pieces of whole green chilli in it!

Belacan Chilli

Resto Surabaya
Far East Plaza

PARADISE DYNASTY in Ion Orchard Singapore

Paradise Dynasty “Legend of Xiao Long Bao” was probably the first Chinese restaurant here to offer an interesting and somewhat exotic range of fillings, for traditional steamed dumplings. I usually order the assortment of 8 different dumplings (S$13.80).

Assorted Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Dumplings)

But beyond the xiao long baos, Paradise Dynasty serves really good food. I’ve been there 3 times since I took these pictures for the post. It is also a great place to bring overseas friends because it is located in the heart of Orchard, with nice decor, acceptable service and most importantly, a wide range of different Chinese dishes to choose from. The only negative is that they do not take reservations and if you visit at peak periods (especially weekends), your wait for a table can be from 30 – 60 minutes.

Paradise Dynasty serves many spicy dishes and my favorite is the Deep Fried Diced Chicken in Szechuan Style (S$10.50). I love the taste of Szechuan peppercorn and this dish has a lot of it. Be warned… it is spicy and leaves your mouth a little numb. That’s why it is described as “Ma La” (Ma – numbing, La – spicy). Other spicy dishes to try are the Ma Po Tofu (S$9) and Pork Dumpling with Chilli Sauce (S$5.80).

Deep Fried Diced Chicken In Szechuan Style
Ma Po Tofu
Pork Dumpling With Chilli Sauce

For our “carbohydrate” dish, we ordered a Stir Fried La Mian (Noodles) with Fungus and Pork (S$10). It tasted a lot better than it looked.

Stir Fried La Mian With Fungus And Pork

For desserts, I will always order the Pan-fried Pancake with Red Bean (S$6). This sinful pancake is crispy yet slightly chewy, with enough red bean paste.

Pan-fried Pancake With Red Bean

Paradise Dynasty
#04-12A Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn,
Singapore 238801

Opening Hours
Mon – Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays: 10.30am – 10pm

No Reservations.

COCOTTE in Wanderlust Hotel Singapore

I have to start by saying that the Croque Madame (S$18) in Cocotte is one of the best I’ve tried. Well, I may not have tried 1000 different types of Croques to convincingly conclude that this is the best, but it was fantastically good and the one dish I keep telling all my friends about. How would I describe it? Hmmm… I can’t… you have to try this yourself!

Croque Madame

Now, back to the restaurant.

Cocotte is located at Wanderlust, a fairly new boutique hotel located in the quaint streets of Little India. Amidst the old charm of the surrounding area, Wanderlust sticks out like a manicured thumb. Its lobby interior is described as “Industrial Glam” and Cocotte’s  interior blends in well. Cocotte serves casual rustic French cuisine with a focus on communal dining so dishes come in sharing portions.

I was there for the weekend brunch. It was my first time visiting the restaurant/hotel and I had parked my car somewhat far away. I arrived at the restaurant after a 15-minute walk in the blistering hot Singapore sun and I was hot, flustered and hungry. I was served an extremely refreshing Summer Punch (S$20, serves 4), that consisted of diced apples (green and red) and orange, in a mixture of ginger ale and ginger beer. I was immediately cooled down and all ready to start feeding myself.

Summer Punch

I’m not a big fan of salads but this Nicoise Salad (S$18) made me change my mind. It was a perfect mix of fresh greens (fine beans), tuna, hard-boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes and anchovies. Ah… the anchovies… those little under-rated fishes. They were probably the key “supporting” ingredient that made me finish my plate of greens. My mother would be so proud.

Nicoise Salad

Next on the list was the Smoked Salmon and Spinach Crepe (S$22). It was a very flavorful combination especially with the creme fraiche and chives. I religiously put a bit of everything into each mouthful.

Smoked Salmon and Creamed Spinach Crepe

I also tried 2 side dishes – the Toulouse Sausages (S$10) and the Slow Roasted Vine Tomatoes & Garlic (S$8). The sausage was good but it was the tomatoes and garlic that got my full attention. The tomatoes were warm, soft, sweet and oh so pretty, while the garlic was perfectly roasted so it’s soft and creamy.

Toulouse Sausages and Slow Roasted Vine Tomatoes and Garlic

Now that I’m done with the savories, it was time to treat my sweet tooth. The Pain Perdu (S$16) was described as “Lost Bread” served with freshly whipped Chantilly and a homemade cherry glaze. It had an abundance of fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.  It is a Brunch item so the portion is not small, best to be shared between 2-3 petite diners as a dessert.

Pain Perdu

Cocotte Restaurant & Bar
2 Dickson Road,
Singapore 209494

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 2.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11.30am – 3pm

Monday – Thursday: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 6.30pm – 11pm

Sunday: Closed

For reservations, call +65 6298-1188

My Must-Have Food in Taipei Taiwan

I visit Taipei a few times a year. There are 3 things I must eat when I’m there. Not just once, but multiple times! The good thing is that all 3 are found in one place – Xi Men Ding.

First on my list is “Xiang Xiang Ji” or Ji Guang Delicious Fried Chicken. They have many outlets in Taipei, from streets stalls to stalls in malls. You can’t miss it when you exit from the Xi Men Ding MRT station. It is in a corner, just at the start of this famous street. It’s best eaten fresh when it is hot and crispy. And I always ask for it to be extra spicy (“jia la” or “da la”).

Its flavorful seasoning is so good, I even like it when it’s cold. I usually leave a packet of these bite-size chicken in the hotel room for a supper snack! But be warned, your entire room will be filled with its powerful smell. Not a bad thing for me. But for those who want to enter their hotel room, feeling like you’ve entered a Banyan Tree Spa… then this is not for you.

Xiang Xiang Chicken
The Staff Are Usually Young And Friendly

With a packet of chicken in my hand, I will eat and walk towards my next destination – the very very popular Ay Chung Mian Sian (Flour-rice Noodles). I had this 20 years ago when I visited Taipei for the first time at the exact same location. Nostalgic.

There are only a few small portable tables and seats in front of the shop. Most customers buy and stand around to eat, slurping and perspiring and totally enjoying that little potent bowl of noodles, that comes with little bits of chewy intestines, and a broth that has the perfect balance of  stickiness and smoothness.  NT 6o for a large bowl and NT45 for a small.

Ay Chung Noodles At Xi Men Ding

Self-service – Vinegar, Chilli And Garlic.

Once I’m done with the noodles, I need to wash it down with a nice White Bitter Melon juice and maybe a Mango Shaved Ice dessert. Just 5 minutes walk, and I’m at my regular haunt – Three Brothers & Sisters (三兄妹).

White Bitter Melon
Shaved Ice With Mango And Ice Cream

I apologise that I don’t have the address to these 3 outlets. But you will definitely see them when you are in Xi Men Ding. If not, ask a local… they will know and they are usually extremely friendly.

Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City

GINDACO Takoyaki in Tokyo

In my recent trip to Tokyo, I ran into a Gindaco outlet.

I have been eating these “octopus balls” (Takoyaki) for years. But it was only about 3+ years ago, when ION Orchard mall opened, that I (and many other Singaporeans) got the first taste of Gindaco. Compared to the local-created balls, this breed of Japanese balls were so much better. It was crispier on the outside and softer on the inside, and had a more distinct taste.

So when I passed the Gindaco store near Midtown Tokyo, I had to give it a shot. If the ones in Singapore were good, these from the mothership, had to be better.

As I didn’t speak Japanese, and they didn’t have an English menu, I could only point to the picture of the promotional item to place my order. Anyway, it looked delicious and I also wanted to try something different.

That’s Not Me… Just a Curious Japanese Guy Looking at Me
Gindaco Takoyaki Balls

You should have seen my face when I took my first bite. I don’t know if it was because I was alone, an alien in a foreign country, or just the cold weather… but I had a surge of emotions that I can’t quite describe. Maybe it brought back childhood memories when a little tasty ball could light up my day. It still does…

Anyway,  the general taste is similar to the ones you get in Singapore (of course…), but it just had that tinge of after-taste that gives it such a kick. And the creation I took was fabulous… it was quite an explosion of different tastes and texture – sweet, salty, sour, creamy, crispy …

Some of the Gindacos in Tokyo are paired up with Highball Sakaba, a whisky brand. The decor in the store is warm and welcoming, perfect for after-work snacks and drinks with colleagues.

The Bar in Gindaco
A Satisfied Customer

Gindaco outlets in Singapore:

ION Orchard #B4- 62-65
RAFFLES CITY Shopping Center #B1-54

WILD ROCKET with Chef Willin Low

Homegrown celebrity chef Willin Low will be updating the menu at Wild Rocket this May. I was very privileged to get a glimpse and taste of some of his new dishes, together with current favorites, during my wonderfully gastronomical 7-course meal.

The portions were perfectly sized leaving space in my eager tummy for the next dish. Beyond the visual aesthetics of each dish, the ingredients tickled and conquered almost every taste bud, leaving me craving for more.

Here’s my very indulgent 7-course feast:

1. Octopus Leek & Potato with Mirin Sesame Oil (new)
2. Soto Ayam Roast Chicken Consomme with Potato Ball (new)
3. Pomelo Winged Bean Salad with Coconut Dressing & Cranberries (current)
4. Salmon Carpaccio Brown Rice Donburi (current)
5. Nori Speghettini with Arabian White Prawns (new)
6. Duck Leg Confit Timbale with Plum Mustard & Yam Cake (current)

7. Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake (current)

Wild Rocket @ Mount Emily
Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road
Singapore 228119

For reservations, call +65 6339 9448

Tues – Sat: 12pm to 3pm (lunch) / 6.30pm to 11pm (dinner) (last order 10.30pm)
Sun: 11.30am to 3pm (brunch) / 6.30pm to 10.30pm (dinner) (last order 10pm)
Closed on Mon.

NICK VINA Artisan Bakery in Icon Village

I was at Icon Village again. Impressed by the long display of fresh pastries and bread, both sweet and savory, I gravitated to Nick Vina.

Nick Vina Artisan Bakery in Icon Village

I picked up a Caprese Sandwich made of bread roll, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, mozaarella cheese and basil. My friend picked the Focaccia of The Day.

Top: Focaccia of the Day     /      Bottom: Caprese Sandwich
Caprese Sandwich

The bread was crispy on the outside and soft inside, and chewy. Bear in mind this is an artisan bakery so the bread is made fresh everyday with just flour, water, salt and yeast and without preservatives. My sandwich had just the right amount of ingredients, allowing me to appreciate the good taste of the bread as I chew. You can’t go wrong with soft mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Simple yet such a mouthful of flavors.

By the way, the name Nick Vina is a combination of the names of Chef Nick Chua and Chef Vina Wang.

Nick Vina Artisan Bakery

#01-54 Icon Village, 12 Gopeng Street, Singapore 078877

Opens 8am – 8pm Daily

75 AH BALLING PEANUT SOUP in Nex Mall (Updated 7 April 2013: Outlet in Nex has closed, visit their shop in Golden Mile Food Center)

I don’t know when my love for tang yuan (rice flour balls) started, but I suspect it must have been long long time ago as a kid, when I would roll these little balls with my great-grandma and cousins, and boil them in a sweet ginger soup.

Anyway, my favorite is “75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup” and they have an outlet in Nex Mall (Serangoon). I used to satisfy my sweet cravings at their Beach Road outlet or in Chinatown, but now I can have it in the comfort of an air-conditioned mall.

75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup at Nex Mall

They come with a few fillings – peanut, red bean, yam, sesame or green tea. And you can have a combination of these in peanut or ginger soup. I always go for peanut filling, in peanut soup.

Menu Board

The flour balls are cooked perfectly so they are firm – not too hard or too soft. Once you bite into it, you immediately get the taste of the filling, without the flour sticking to your teeth or mouth. The right balance of flour and the amount of filling is also critical.

The beauty of the peanut soup is that it’s filled excessively with soft peanuts, and it’s not too sweet. The ginger soup is good for days when you want something lighter.

Ah Balling in Peanut Soup
Peanut-filled Ah Balling in Peanut Soup

75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup

#03-K9 (just at the entrance of NTUC supermarket)

Nex Mall, 23 Serangoon Central

Opens 11am – 9.30pm daily

Outlet in NEX has closed, please visit their outlet in Golden Mile Food Centre:

505 Beach Road

#01-75 Golden Mile Food Centre

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