Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Yan Ji Seafood Soup, Open Door Policy, First Culinary Restaurant, Borderless Brunch

PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE, OPEN DOOR POLICY

SEAFOOD BROTH SO RICH

Yan Ji Seafood Soup has been drawing fans to its Woodlands outlet for many years. But it is too far from my usual hang-outs, and I have been disappointed too many times by over-hyped hawker stalls, to make the effort to seek it out.

When I heard of a new franchised outlet in the Old Airport Road Food Centre, however, I decided to check it out.

And it turned out to be the best seafood soup I've eaten.

The broth was amazingly rich, with a body that could result only from simmering seafood and meat for hours.

It being my first visit, I ordered the basic $6 serving, which came with two prawns, fish fillet and what could be described as meat balls that looked like patties.

Everything was really good, from the tender pieces of white fish to the fresh and meaty prawns to the delicious patties.

Together with the broth, the dish was perfect. My only complaint? The broth filled only half the bowl. I would like more - much more.

I will be back and the next time, I'll get the $10 bowl, which comes with crayfish as well. And an extra $2 for fish maw too. Hopefully, I'll get more broth then.

WHERE: Yan Ji Seafood Soup, Block 51, Old Airport Road, 01-122 MRT: Dakota OPEN: 11am to 8pm (Tuesday to Sunday) PRICE: $6 to $14 a bowl



Vegan Maccheroni Pasta, Portobello, Bolognese Gratin, Bechamel ($24).

OPEN DOOR POLICY GOES GLUTEN- AND DAIRY-FREE

Open Door Policy has undergone a total transformation, with a new menu that is gluten- and dairy-free. What impresses is that you do not even notice that these are missing from your meal.

There is pasta on the menu, for example, with the noodles made from blends of rice flour and other starches in place of wheat. And instead of cow's milk, desserts are prepared with alternatives such as almond milk - which is delicious.

Dishes to check out include Celery And Almond Soup With Hokkaido Scallop, Cauliflower ($24) and Vegan Maccheroni Pasta, Portobello, Bolognese Gratin, Bechamel ($24, photo).

And for the main course, there is a delightful King Paiche ($36), a lovely pan-roasted fish served with green curry, sweet potatoes and cauliflower.

For dessert, opt for the Light Almond Milk Custard ($16) with poached strawberries and sorbet.

At the end of lunch, I did not feel stuffed the way I usually do after a heavy meal. So no dairy definitely works for me.

WHERE: Open Door Policy, 19 Yong Siak Street MRT: Tiong Bahru OPEN: Noon to 3pm and 6 to 11pm daily TEL: 6221-9307



Imperial Crab (seasonal price) from First Culinary Restaurant.

GOING BACK FOR DIM SUM, CRAB AND ROAST PORK

Not many people would think of going to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) for dinner. At least, I didn't, despite living and working rather near ITE Central in Ang Mo Kio.

Occasionally, I would receive a flier in my letterbox promoting one of the restaurants there, which was why I decided to pop in for lunch recently.

The eatery that caught my eye was First Culinary Restaurant, which offered a tempting dim sum menu at lunch. The siew mai and har gau made the grade and I was soon back for its other offerings.

Many of the dishes deserve repeated visits, among them the Crispy Skin Roast Pork ($14), which boasts a crispy crackling that rivals that served by top restaurants in town.

The Imperial Crab (seasonal price, photo) is something new to me, with its salty and spicy flavours. The crabs are fried dry in a claypot and best described as a saltier version of Malaysian "kum heong" or ganxiang crab. The Prawns With Salted Egg (from $18) is good too. Unlike some places which use commercial salted egg yolk powder, the sauce here is made from scratch in the kitchen. And the attention to quality shows.

WHERE: First Culinary Restaurant, Block A, ITE College Central, 2 Ang Mo Kio Drive, 01-09 MRT: Ang Mo Kio/Yio Chu Kang OPEN: 10.30am to 3pm and 5.30 to 10pm daily TEL: 6481-5500



Three food outlets at Grand Copthrone Waterfront Hotel come together for brunch on Sundays. 

BORDERLESS BRUNCH BUFFET AT GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT

There are three separate food and beverage outlets at the lobby level of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore - buffet restaurant Food Capital, Italian grill Grissini and a bar, Tempo.

But for brunch on Sundays, all three come together for what the hotel calls its Borderless Brunch.

A buffet spreads across the three outlets from 12.30 to 3.30pm.

At Food Capital, items range from cold seafood and sushi to Asian fare such as laksa and tandoori chicken. Over at Grissini, the spread includes antipasti and pizzas. Outside by the river, you can find wagyu beef, lamb, spring chicken and seafood freshly grilled in a Josper oven.

My favourites are the grilled wagyu and laksa, which comes with cockles - a sure way to win me over.

The bar dispenses free-flow cocktails and mocktails. You can also opt for Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne and house wines.

WHERE: Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore, 392 Havelock Road MRT: Outram Park WHEN: Sundays, 12.30 to 3.30pm PRICE: $88 (free-flow juices and soft drinks), $128 (free-flow champagne, house wine, juices and soft drinks) TEL: 6233-1100

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2016, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe