Checked out Communal the other day with the girls. It’s a little hard to find as there is no obvious sign from the main road, even if you drive by really slowly (unless I am as blind as I am deaf!). If you know where Mad Men and Sur are, Communal is right next door. If you don’t, then look out for this modern new building, 22 North Canal Road – it’s a short walk right when you are facing this. Parking is a bit of a pain in the area; the carpark behind the police station is tiny and usually full (with several cars waiting on lots, to boot). I think the parallel lots along North Canal Road are probably your best bet.

With a faintly hipster vibe, I was expecting another ‘lost-the-plot’ (LTP) dining establishment – you know, the kind that focuses on the ambiance and cool factor over the nosh – but I have to admit that I found the food surprisingly comforting. Too many places try to be fancy for fancy’s sake with food these days, but the food that I had at Communal that day was generally simple and well-executed.

This was our complimentary starter, cornbread served with some fancy butter. Our server was this very pleasant (and very attractive!) lady – she looked like a model-type from Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, her accent was pretty thick, and she spoke quite softly; to add to that, I am a little deaf(!), so we didn’t manage to catch what she was saying about the butter, even though she had repeated it three times. (I gave up asking after that, haha!) This was yummy! Moist but still light, and very savoury.

French fries, fried egg, garlic aioli. Simple and delish.

Boston Lobster Mac & Cheese – what’s not to love??

Heard their fried chicken is really good, but the lot of us were not super hungry (I had shared wanton mee with a friend just before dinner because I couldn’t wait, heh!), so we went for the Communal Buffalo Wings instead – these were super good. Spicy, tangy and well-fried. Yes, it was an extremely unhealthy supper we had!

Which we finished off with the Hot Chocolate Souffle. It was rich, packed with dark chocolate goodness and i dare say, one of the better ones I’ve had. Special mention to the strawberry ice-cream – I’m not usually a fan of the flavour, but this one had just the right balance of sweet and tart.

Till the next food adventure!

Tim Ho Wan in Singapore

The famous Tim Ho Wan from Hong Kong has finally made it to our shores (three months ago, actually), and I have been meaning to make time to have a taste. However, I not only haven’t managed to find the time, but I must admit that the stories about the crazy queues to get in put me off quite a bit as well. I love how in Singapore we have such a cute ‘queue culture’ – it’s almost like a hobby or national sport for some! I swear some people get in line first then ask, “Eh, what is this for huh?”, heh. Unfortunately, patience is not quite my strong suit, especially when it comes to my rumbling tummy. Hence I’m extra grateful to Priscilla from Brand Cellar for remembering I hadn’t yet had a taste, and for arranging for my folks and I to have a meal there. =)

Tip: According to them, the best time to go if you want to avoid the queue is between 4-5pm on a weekday.

They have these ‘Big Four Heavenly Kings’, which are basically the specialty items at Tim Ho Wan. Mag (from Brand Cellar) highly recommended we order these, even though two of the four items are not what I would normally choose.

I would not have ordered the Steamed Egg Cake, otherwise known as ‘Malay Cake’ when literally translated in Mandarin. Mostly because I like my sweet stuff really sweet and ‘heavy’ tasting – no sweet popcorn or cheng tng for me, for example – and also because it seems incongruous with the rest of the meal to have something like a sort of cake with my har gao and siew mai. It was surprisingly good though, and my dad in particular really enjoyed it (and polished off the last bit!).

Another dish that would normally not have made my order list was the Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver. It is cheong fan wrapped around liver and vegetables. I like neither liver nor vegetables. I take liver soup (with a lot of brandy mixed in to mask the taste) every now and then for my anemia, but otherwise I don’t touch the stuff. I found this very unusual as this is more commonly done with char siew (roasted pork), shrimp or yu tiao. The strong-tasting liver was nicely balanced by the silky blandness of the cheong fan, all pulled together with the delicious sauce. However, seafood fan that I am, I still like this dish best with it is done with prawns. Special mention must be made on the texture of the cheong fan – silky smooth, light and melt-in-your-mouth sedap (scrumptious).

Next, the star of the ‘Big Four Heavenly Kings’, the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork. To attest to this one’s star status, this dish is such a hit with Singaporeans that it actually has a limit on the number of plates you can order – one plate per person, whether you choose to finish it dining in or to pack it as takeaway.   Unlike the usual bao (steamed bun) or pastry, this one is a deliciously crusty-on-the-outside, pillowy-soft-on-the-inside bun encasing a savoury char siew filling. Such a comforting, indulgent treat. I understand now why this is the top-selling item on the menu!

Tip: Tim Ho Wan does not do takeaways, but you can ‘cheat’ and still get to take home your BBQ pork buns to enjoy for breakfast the next day. Beat the system by having each person in your dining party order one plate (of three buns). Enjoy some at the restaurant, and ask to bring back the rest that you didn’t manage to finish. You can think of me when you re-heat these by toasting them in your oven the next morning!

Rounding up the list of the ‘Heavenly Kings’ is the Pan-Fried Carrot Cake. While not usually a fan of carrot cake (too starchy and tasteless most of the time), this is my absolute favorite dish at Tim Ho Wan. It was really soft and not one bit starchy; in fact, the entire the cake seemed to be made up of thinly sliced radish, unlike the usual minced/blended mix I normally associate with carrot cake. It was also pan-fried and seasoned just so – tasty!

Ordered a few more of mine and my folks’ dim sum favourites – Prawn Dumpling (har gao), Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (siew mai), Congee with Lean Pork, Century Egg and Salted Egg (pei dan zou), Vermicelli Roll with Shrimp, Beancurd Shrimp Roll with Pork and Shrimp, Chicken Feet with Black bean Sauce and Deep-Fried Beancurd Skin Roll,. They were all more than decent, and between us, it was all empty plates when we left!

We were told that Tim Ho Wan suggests dipping the deep-fried items Worcestershire sauce rather than the usual vinegar. It sounded strange, but it worked a treat! The flavours went really well together, the Worcestershire sauce ‘cutting’ some of the oiliness. If you think about it, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar taste slightly similar in their tangy saltiness, although I personally prefer the slight sweetness that Worcestershire sauce has over the sharper tasting vinegar. Now why didn’t I think of this combination?

My verdict is they have better than average, reasonably priced dim sum (especially for a one Michelin star restaurant), with a few standout dishes. I am not sure I’d wait over an hour for it though, but that’s just me.

One Night in Bangkok

Finally getting round to uploading pictures from the many trips I’ve made in the past year (better late than never, k!). This was from a ‘girls only hen’s trip’ to a much-loved Singaporean destination – Bangkok! We got up to all kinds of crazy on this trip…am only sharing the ‘safe’ pictures! ;p

Room with a view.

Do the Bangkok cab squeeeeze. Tallest gets to sit in (leg-room) comfort up front! Heh.

Room with a view part two!

One apartment, six girls…mayhem! 

Costume party.

Costume party part two.

Photobomb the selca!

Caught in the act! 

She’s persistent. But so I am. Roped in the bride this time for extra power. The cracks are beginning to show in her resolve for the perfect selfie…

When you can’t beat ’em…

Met this doll at one of the Siam Square boutiques. Look at that face!

Toastie shopping break!

Another all-girls trip coming up – can’t wait!

To market, to market

NYC’s Union Square has this Greenmarket that happens four days a week, throughout the year (yes, even in the bitter cold of winter!). It gives small local family farmers opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products to New Yorkers, which I find is a lovely way to help sustain local produce.  I decided it was worth a troop down, and it was beautifully sunny (albeit still terribly cold!) on Saturday, so I bundled up warmly and off I went!

Taking a bite out of the big apple. Heh.

I loved all the pretty blooms on sale, both fresh and dried.And if you like dogs and other furry friends, there were tons of little (and not so little!) cuties out to play as their owners bought fresh milk and cheese.Homemade honey & maple syrup. Mmmm…


And if you needed help with something, or wanted a romantic sonnet written for a loved one, well…

Treasure Trove

So I checked out the Brooklyn Flea over the weekend, and even though we got a little lost driving around trying to find it (we heard it was along Lafayette Ave, for some reason) I didn’t regret it one bit. For winter, the flea is held in the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building, now restored, redeveloped and known as Skylight One Hanson.

It’s such a lovely space – and not only because it’s indoors (warmth, oooh!) – now a cavernous event space composed of the Romanesque Beaux Arts Bank Hall and the Art Deco Vault. Yes, I’m such a sucker for history and classic structures, and I really appreciate how  great care was taken to preserve the architectural prestige of the marble floors, carved teller stations, magnificent vaulted ceiling and the huge mosaic of New York on the main wall.

That’s me rather chuffed (and hence smiling stupidly) at finally finding the flea, getting out of the cold, and finding it to be such a lovely space.All manner of vintage clothing to be had (went mad!) and knick knacks galore.

Kermit acting all biker and hanging out with Piggy, Scarecrow from the land of Oz, Snoopy, and the rest of the motley crew.There was art by local artists, and a lot of handmade stuff by local artisans. If you like Etsy, you’ll also go crazy at this place. I had to resist buying pieces of really cool furniture! Another draw of the Brooklyn Flea is the great food to be had! If you a a java addict like some of my friends are, you’d have enjoyed the freshly brewed Brooklyn coffee. There was also this cute little shop called Butter & Scotch that sold smores pies, green chile & tequila caramel corn, hot chocolate and all manner of sweets and craft cocktails. Pretty sweet (pun fully intended).

Also worthy of mention was this ramen shop, Yuji Ramen, that has been getting some press (here too)of late. Now, being Asian, and a huge ramen lover myself, I was pretty skeptical – this must be some watered-down, Americanized version of noodles tweaked to please the local palettes. I do pride myself on keeping an open mind though, so made sure to have a taste.

He does mazemen style ramen, which means the noodles are served dry & tossed, rather than in hot soup. I tried both the Spicy Tuna as well as the Uni ones. Expectations were low, especially for the tuna one, but it turned out that the tuna one was super delish! No pictures unfortunately, because I devoured them both like the glutton that I am. Sorry! =p Am going to head down to try his omakase  dinner at Whole Foods this weekend, and help him raise money to start his own restaurant in the meantime.

Will update on that soonest!

30’s a Charm

Was the bestie’s birthday recently, and we had a good ole’ fashioned kind of celebration.Since it also fell during the 15 days of CNY this year, we went all-out retro ching-chong with a 10 course Chinese dinner at a super old school place in Chinatown. Since she’s ROM-ing later this year, there were many jokes of having her dinner at this place, complete with 80s style wedding gown – HUGE puffy sleeves, HUGE head pieces, complete with side-styled frizzy hair…Have your wedding here, please! Heh.

The yusheng was funny that day. Apparently.The company, even funnier…Found it all a little fishy.Ok, ok, couldn’t resist. Heh.

Adjourned to Bitters & Love after for drinks and cake. (And arm-wrestling and then some!)

Let the epic battle begin. (C & E not impressed…)A & J even more unimpressed…

Starry Starry Night

Recently attended the opening of Mediacorp’s new baby, ME@OUE. It’s a pretty cool concept – Japanese, French and Chinese cuisine all under one roof, by chefs Masayasu Yonemura, Laurent Peugeot and Justin Hor (that’s not one, but two Michelin starred chefs under one roof!).

DDF thigh-cut maxi dress; skirt version here | DDF Juston Blazer; similar style here | Nixon men’s watch | Alexander McQueen Britannia Skull Box Clutch | Steve Madden sheer mesh booties