Asanoya, a popular bakery from Karuizawa in Japan, has opened its first overseas outpost here. Located at Wilby Centre in Queen Street, the 80-seat bakery offers a range of delightful French-style Japanese breads.
My picks are the Fruit Rye ($6.50 for a half loaf, $12.50 for a whole), the Karuizawa Green Tea and Blueberry breads ($2.60 for 100g, served in slices that cost about $3 each) and the Earl Grey Tea Bread ($4.80 a loaf).
The Fruit Rye, a round rye loaf with a gorgeous crust, has a lovely depth of flavour and is filled with bits of orange peel, plump rum-infused raisins, walnuts and almonds. Great on its own or toasted and spread with salted butter.
The Karuizawa breads are a feast for the eyes too - beautiful and artistic swirls of green and white for the green tea version, and purple and white and speckled with blueberries for the blueberry version.
These breads, which have a firm crust, remain soft even after a day. The green tea bread also has small pieces of white chocolate in it which taste almost like soft toffee.
For tea lovers, the soft loaf subtly infused with earl grey tea is a joy to eat, with gentle flavours of bergamot that awaken the senses.
I also like the French Garlic mini baguette ($2.80) for something a little more savoury.
Where: 15 Queen Street, Wilby Central, 01-03 MRT: Bras Basah Open: 10am - 8pm (Mon - Thu), 10am - 10pm (Fri), 8am - 10pm (Sat), 8am - 8pm (Sun) Tel: 6703-8703 Info: www.asanoya.asia
FAMILY HENG HWA FARE
Singapore's Heng Hwa community, a Chinese dialect group from Putien in Fujian province, is small and close-knit.
There are a few restaurants that the Heng Hwa like to frequent, one of which is Ming Chung in Maude Road, which has been operating in Singapore since 1933.
The family restaurant serves noodle dishes such as Heng Hwa-style lor mee (from $5 a serving) where the gravy is much lighter in texture and colour than those served elsewhere; fried mee (from $5, above); and fried mee sua (from $7) with peanuts, dried seaweed, seafood and vegetables.
The mee sua is subtly flavourful. The Heng Hwa style is much lighter on the palate than Cantonese or Hokkien cooking, which is all about rich sauces and braising liquids.
Other popular dishes here include the fried batang fish (from $10), kailan with beancurd skin (from $8) and battered prawn fritters ($16).
What you must order is the sweet stir-fried clams (from $12, inset), which are served in a piquant and slurp-worthy garlicky chilli sauce. This goes superbly with rice.
On a recent Monday night, I decided to find out what the fuss about Spanish frozen yogurt chain Llao Llao was all about.
For a start, learn to say the chain's name like a pro - "yao yao", not "lau lau".
I have seen first-hand the snaking queues outside this store that sells yogurt with toppings and yogurt smoothies. Scary.
It took me half an hour to get to the front of the queue. I wouldn't have bothered to wait if not for the hype.
If you have to queue as long as I did, you would be best off ordering the Sanum ($6.50) - essentially a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit of your choice, granola or crushed biscuits and drizzled with a sauce.
The most interesting of the sauces are the Raffaello - a rich and thick white coconut and white chocolate sauce - and the Caramelised Cookie sauce, which tastes of European- style speculoos, a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit.
The frozen yogurt here is refreshing, creamy and slightly tart. It's a little sweet too, but after all that queuing, you probably deserve it.
Try going at off-peak times to avoid the lines. Prices start from $2.50 a serving.
Where: Six outlets including 313@Somerset, B3-55; Marina Link, B1-04; United Square, 01-K14; & West Mall, 01-K6 MRT: Various Open: Various opening hours although generally open from 11am to 10pm daily Info: www.llaollaoweb.com/sg
KIKAKU SET TREAT
For a value-for-money weekday treat, head to Fat Cow in Camden Medical Centre.
Its Kikaku set, priced at $128 a person, has five courses that feature the restaurant's signature dishes. These include the Tai No Kuro Toryufu - sliced bream with black truffle and seasoned kelp; Onsen Tamago No Gyu Marrow Furai - onsen egg served warm with crispy fried beef bone marrow in a citrus dashi; and Wagyu Sumibiyaki - choose between Ohmi wagyu ribeye and Saga wagyu sirloin.
The supple and succulent wagyu is served medium-rare, charred to perfection on a charcoal grill. Every bite is a piece of beefy melt-in-the-mouth goodness.
Where: Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, 01-01 MRT: Orchard Open: The Kikaku set is available only from Mon - Thu, 6 - 11pm Tel: 6735-0308 Info: E-mail email@example.com or go to www.fat-cow.com.sg