Chef Icon Bakery

Chocolate Trovana I stumbled upon this bakery through an advertisement I saw on facebook. Chef Icon Bakery prides itself in being a nature bakery – they use no artificial ingredients or artificial fats. Seems like a perfect place to shop for a birthday cake for my daughter.

I went there in the afternoon with my husband to shop for a birthday cake and was promptly recommended their signature Chocolate Trovana. The signature cake comes in sizes of 500g, 1kg and 2kg and prior ordering is required. Looking at the array of cakes, we decided to stop for tea too.

Chef Francis was very friendly and recommended that we tried one of his cheesecakes if we liked cheesecakes. He promised that his cheesecakes were very different, and different they were. Even the cookies for the oreo cheesecake base were baked in the shop. His reason? Commercial oreo cookies contained preservatives. Such dedication to his nature baking concept indeed!

We finally decided to try the mango cheesecake and we were definitely not disappointed. The cheesecake was very light, unlike other baked cheesecakes that I’ve tried. Despite it’s lightness, the cake definitely did not lose its flavour. The mango fragrance permeated the cake; every bite was a delight. We were so busy eating the cake that we forgot to take a nice photo of it! Alas, there’s always a chance for visit two.

Now, back to the Chocolate Trovana cake we ordered. The verdict is found below.

chef_icon2 The layers of chocolate mousse and chocolate cake together with the rich chocolate ganache formed a heavenly combination. The cake was velvety smooth and very rich in chocolate flavour. Thankful that I only bought the 500g cake as a small slice goes a long way. This cake is highly recommended. Possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve tasted in a long while.

So where can you find Chef Icon?

Chef Icon Bakery
5 Kampong Bahru Rd
Singapore 169341
Phone: +65 9337 3900Mon – Sat: 8am to 8pm

Taipei Ding Tai Fung vs Kao Chi (Part 2)

And so, my last post ended with my views on Kao Chi. What about Ding Tai Fung? Well, we went to the same area for dinner (my toddler woke up late from her afternoon nap and we decided not to venture too far), and surprise, Ding Tai Fung’s queue at 7.30pm was short! We decided to go for it (yes I know, two similar restaurants in a day?!), but how can we not try the original Ding Tai Fung right? Ok enough of my ramblings, here are the food pictures.

First up, xiao long bao. The texture of the filling is slightly different from the one at Kao Chi. The filling of the xiao long bao at Kao Chi is smoother – probably the meat is more finely minced. Taste wise, they are comparable. The xiao long bao here is less salty compared to the one served up at Ding Tai Fung Singapore. However, we did realise that most of the food here is less salty than the ones served in Singapore. Surprising?

This photo shows you the thin skin of the xiao long bao and the juicy soupy meaty goodness within. Yums! Did you know that the vinegar dip for xiao long bao should be 1 part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar? The lovely waitress at Ding Tai Fung mixed it for us and shared this with us. I never knew!

We ordered the meat and vegetable dumplings. It tastes quite similar to the one back at home, except for the fact that it is slightly less salty. Delicious too!

We ordered some carbs to fill our tummy. Here is their egg fried rice with pork strips. The rice they use in Taiwan is short grain and so is slightly more al dente than the ones back at home. I find the egg fried rice here alot more tasty than the one at home.

Zha Jiang Mian is up next! I like the texture of the noodles. It is springy and not too soft. The taste of the sauce is just right, less salty than the one at home. We slurped up the noodles, and decided that it was time for some Suan La Tang (Hot and Sour soup)

Now, I am not a fan of hot and sour soup typically but this one was the right blend of spicy and sour and I actually liked it! We split the bowl among three adults and it was just nice.

For greens, we ordered stir fried spinach with beancurd skin. I don’t know how they cooked it, but for a simple dish, this was really good. The beancurd skin was soft and very flavourful, not salty like the ones we get back at home. The vegetables are slightly crunchy and the overall taste is just right.

And I missed out this double boiled beef soup that we ordered for my little bub. The one back at Singapore is pretty salty but the one here is not. Perfect for the little one (after removing the thin layer of oil atop).

Service wise, the one we get here in Taipei is tons better than the one in Singapore. The servers are warm, attentive and very friendly.

So Ding Tai Fung or Kao Chi? Honestly, the taste is comparable. If you’d like a less crowded and more private eating experience, go to Kao Chi. Nevertheless, the original Ding Tai Fung is definitely worth a visit.




What’s your beef?

Thanks to a Groupon voucher, hubby and I had the opportunity to try out this beef buffet at a half of its actual cost. This beef ala-carte buffet serves up five different types of beef – Wagyu, Prime Rib, Ribeye, T-bone steak as well as stewed beef cheek. The steak is cooked to your preferred doneness and served up with three sauces and a small variety of side dishes. Sauces available are red wine sauce, mushroom sauce and creamy blue cheese sauce. Side dishes available are creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, Barossa salad as well as roasted tomatoes.

Hubby and I enjoyed the steaks – they were done nicely and to the degree of doneness (medium) we requested for. I’ve had bad experiences with places that overcook the steaks and it is nice to find a place that does not. I enjoyed the ribeye steak while hubby preferred the wagyu and T-bone. We both agreed that the beef cheek was stewed perfectly – tender and chock full of flavour.

All the sauces complemented the beef very well; there is something for everyone. For side dishes, I enjoyed the creamed spinach (though not the clump of baked cheese on top), the mash potatoes and the mushrooms. The other two side dishes were rather forgettable.

I would recommend this buffet for serious beef lovers with a large appetite.  I could hardly finish the second round of steak, though my hubby managed three rounds. If you are a small eater like me, this may not be worth your money especially at the full buffet price, $43.90++. Service wise, the branch at Holland Village has a huge room for improvement. Despite a reservation, I had to wait at the entrance of the restaurant for more than 10 minutes, carrying a baby, while waitresses walked up to the counter to collect things but totally ignored me!

“What’s your beef” buffet
Wed and Sundays, 6 – 10pm
22 Lorong Mambong (Holland Village)
8 Raffles Avenue #01-11 (Esplanade)


Burgers @ Food For Thought Botanical Gardens

Food for thought has become one of our favourite places to bring our baby girl to. Besides supporting a good cause, affordable lunches, the plus point about it is that it has an outdoor play area for children to toddle around. It is also situated at Botanical gardens – perfect for a meal after a morning walk.

We have tried their breakfasts before – their pancakes are lovely and their mee rebus is decent, but most other things are well, slightly overpriced for the serving size. Their burgers (served after 11am) are a pretty good deal though. They cost between $8 to $12, fries served separately. They are rather generous with their serving of fries so we only ordered one serving of fries to share between the two of us. The burger pictured above is the pulled pork and ham burger with BBQ and mayo dressing. It is definitely one of my guilty indulgences of the week but it was worth the calories. I love the softness of the homemade potato bun as well!

My husband had the chicken pesto burger. The pesto was absolutely flavourful and complemented the chicken well. I was only allowed one bite and my husband devoured the rest himself.

Food For Thought
1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens,
#B1-00, S259569

Hong Kong – Tim Ho Wan

Hong Kong’s dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan is hailed as the world’s cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant. At S$13 per person (especially considering the amount of food we ordered), I believe this is very much true. We chanced upon this hole in the wall when hubby came across a report on this restaurant on a food magazine. After walking for miles (because we did not quite know which MTR station to alight from), we finally arrived at the restaurant, only to realise that a huge crowd of locals had already gathered in front of the restaurant, eagerly waiting to be served brunch.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait beyond 30 minutes as smaller groups seemed to get seated first. We couldn’t quite decide what to order and so practically almost ordered one of each type of dim sum on the menu. While we were waiting for our food, we noticed that not far away in the kitchen, staff were busying preparing freshly made dim sum. That’s one of the major selling points of Tim Ho Wan. Instead of serving pre-made, frozen and reheated dim sum, this restaurant prides itself for serving freshly made dim sum.

The carrot cake was delectable. It was soft yet crisp on the outside and importantly, it was not too oily or salty. The Har Gao (prawn dumplings) were fresh and succulent. One of the best I’ve tasted. And even though I am not a fan of chicken’s feet, I’d have to agree with my hubby that they prepared this dish exceptionally well.

I’ve always been a fan of Ham Shui Kok (Fried salty pork dumpling?) but find that most are too chewy, with the glutinous flour portion sticking to one’s teeth. The ones served here were not too chewy, with a very fragrant interior. I should have ordered more! The crystal dumplings were filled with meat and chives. Though this was not one of my favourite items, my mom really did like it. The lotus leaf wrapped glutinous rice was probably one of the more disappointing items we ordered. Even though the fragrance of the lotus leaf permeated the rice very well, the filling was not quite as tasty as I had hoped it would be.

To be honest, I can’t quite recall what dish the first picture in this series represents. I vaguely remember that it contained arrowroot and perhaps some meat? The rice flour roll was of just the right consistency. It was not too soft, and retained a little bit of resistance when you bite into it. Just the way I like it. And the steamed pork ribs? One word: Yums.

The century egg porridge was nothing spectacular. It tasted rather bland. Perhaps, this is how the locals like their porridge. The siew mai was as tasty as it’s brother, the har gao. I think the freshness of the ingredients the restaurant uses goes a long way in bringing out the flavour of their dim sum. The po luo bao was very very good. When you first take a bite, you encounter the crisp and flaky exterior, which quickly gives way to the moist and delicious centre. I could probably have eaten all three of them if I wasn’t so stuffed!

And to round things off, we ordered dessert. The mango pudding definitely did not disappoint. It was rich and creamy, with a generous portion of mango pieces within. The Osmanthus flower jelly was very interesting indeed. It was mildly sweet and had the strong fragrance of the Osmanthus flower.

And to conclude this rather long, picture heavy post, I would have to say that I strongly, highly recommend this place if you decide to pay Hong Kong a visit. Having said that however, I’d have to make a disclaimer that if you are expecting innovative, fusion dim sum, you will not find it here. But if you are like me, and prefers the traditional selection of dim sum, then Tim Ho Wan is definitely the place to visit.

Tim Ho Wan
9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po

Hong Kong – Yung Kee Restaurant

After reading reviews about this restaurant from websites and the Miele Guide, we decided on a recent trip to Hong Kong that a visit to this place is a must. We were surely not disappointed. We arrived at the restaurant early, as we did not make a reservation, and were fortunate to get a seat as the restaurant filled up pretty quickly afterwards.

Dinner began with their house specialty, which is served to all their guests. Yung Kee’s century eggs are preserved by the restaurant’s chefs using a special recipe and hence tasted very different from the ones we are used to. The centre of the egg is still fluid, with the distinct flavour of century eggs, yet without the fishy smell. Absolutely delicious.

One of the house specials that night was their small braised abalone. We ordered one each and were delighted at the springy yet tender texture of the abalone. The braising sauce was very tasty and complemented the abalone perfectly.

And what’s a visit to Yung Kee if one does not try the famous roast goose? The skin of the roast goose was crisp with some of the mouthwatering fat oozing forth with every bite. The meat was tender and absolutely flavourful. Even though they provided a plum sauce for dipping, I preferred the meat just as it is. Perhaps it is not for the health conscious but who cares? The dieting can start after the trip.

To ease our guilt over the roasted goose, we decided to think healthy and order some vegetables. Though the presentation of the vegetables was nothing to shout about, we thoroughly enjoyed the crisp sweetness of the vegetables that still retained its crunch with every bite.

And now, drumroll please. We attempted something that could possibly be on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizzare Foods. That’s right – Sea cucumber intestines. In fact, this very interesting dish was not even found on the menu. One has to ask for it, and it’s seasonal. We asked for them to be done simply – fried and seasoned with salt and pepper, so that we could try its original taste. The texture was slightly crunchy, similar experience as if one was eating some fried tendons I suppose. Without the salt and the pepper, I supposed these would have tasted rather bland as the sea cucumber intestines did not seem to have much flavour on their own. It was tasty nonetheless.

We completed our dinner with their double boiled chicken soup, served with chicken feet and mushrooms. The soup was rich and totally gratifying. I only wish I could duplicate such flavour at home. I am almost certain there was some chinese ham in it.

And finally, a snapshot to seal our memories of Yung Kee – a row of mouthwatering chinese ham, prepared by the restaurant themselves. Unfortunately, the prices of these were as exquisite as the appearance of these hams. Coupled with the fact that they only sell them by the leg, we obviously did not purchase any.

Yung Kee Restaurant
32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Brunch at Riders’ Cafe

I caught up with some dear girlfriends from church the other day. I picked Riders’ Cafe as the last time I visited, they were having a power outage. We loved how the place takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Staring at the greenery out of the window, enjoying the view of horses training was indeed very relaxing.

We were too late for breakfast and had to order from their lunch menu. I ordered a crabmeat pasta which honestly, was unspectacular. They were rather generous with their crabmeat and shaved parmesan, but sadly, the crabmeat was not quite fresh.

Girlfriends decided to go for the fish and chips and the calamari which tasted pretty good. They were a way lot better than the pasta. The batter used for the fish and chips remained crispy even after some time. It wasn’t overtly oily. The chips were chunky and yummy. I am definitely partial to chunky fries.

The calamari was above average. It was crisp on the outside but just right on the inside and not too chewy. The mayo dip complemented the calamari very well.

For dessert, we shared a “Death by Chocolate” which essentially was a piece of warmed chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. The cake was very rich and chocolatey. It was very gooey but I wished that it would slightly less sticky. The vanilla bean ice cream was good. This is worth a try if you pop by this place.

Riders Cafe is located at 51 Fairways Drive, Bukit Timah Saddle Club