ATLAS FOR GOOD FOOD
Atlas Coffeehouse is one of the newest cafes to open in Bukit Timah. It is by the same folks behind Assembly Coffee in Evans Road.
Atlas is located at the corner of Duke's and Bukit Timah Roads, near the Police Post. The space used to house eateries such as The Big Apple Cafe and Nomads and hasn't had a prominent food and beverage tenant in years.
Things to eat include the Atlas Super-Bowl ($17) with quinoa, baby spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes, zucchini and squash drizzled with yogurt, shimeiji mushrooms and shredded chicken tossed in a peanut-sesame sauce. The elements come together well and I like that the dish is clean, healthy and filling.
Atlas' open-faced beef brisket sandwich topped with a sunny-side- up egg ($18) is also a winner. It is served on sourdough bread and the beef is rich and soft, the onions well caramelised.
Want something sweet? Get the Atlas Butterscotch Banana Pancake ($18). The pancake, which has been drenched in butterscotch, has the texture of a light, fluffy cake. It also has a lovely, crisp top layer. It is served with banana slices, honeycomb ice cream and chunks of honeyed flakes that resemble granola.
Decadent but delicious.
WHERE: Atlas Coffeehouse, 6 Duke's Road MRT: Botanic Gardens/Tan Kah Kee OPEN: 8am to 5pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday TEL: 6314-2674 INFO: Go to www.facebook.com/atlascoffee house. The cafe accepts reservations only for groups of six or more
Ashino is a quiet 14-seat sushi restaurant in Chijmes headed by Taku Ashino, who used to man the sushi counter at Hide Yamamoto in Marina Bay Sands.
Top-grade sushi isn't what comes to mind when you think of Hide Yamamoto, but don't let that put you off dining at this eight-month-old restaurant.
I opt for an omakase lunch ($250) - the menu is left to the chef - and am served about 20 wonderful items.
Sushi includes flavourful tuna that has been marinated in soya sauce and sake and aged, and placed atop warm, grainy and beautifully textured rice (above). I also loved the fullness of the plump uni, the texture of the nodoguro or black throat sea perch and the subtle and mild taste of the freshwater eel.
Aside from sushi, items also include a large juicy oyster poached in sake and a robust broth made with prawn heads.
Prices start at $120 for lunch and $220 for dinner.
The omakase lunch course costs $250 a head, while the omakase dinner is priced at $400.
WHERE: Ashino, 01-23 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street MRT: City Hall OPEN: Noon to 2pm, 6 to 11pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday TEL: 6684-4567 INFO: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
YUMMY HALAL FARE
For hearty fare at pocket- friendly prices in the Central Business District, I like Nusantara Cuisine. It opens at 7am, which means you can pop in for breakfast before heading to the office.
Have a lontong, mee rebus or soto ayam (priced from $4.50). The soto ayam (above) is heady and full-bodied, with chunks of soft chicken meat. You can have it with noodles, bee hoon or rice cakes. There is also nasi lemak, beef noodles and an array of Padang-style dishes from sambal cuttlefish to crunchy tempeh.
WHERE: Nusantara Cuisine, 171 Telok Ayer Street MRT: Telok Ayer OPEN: 7am to 4pm (weekday), closed on weekend TEL: 6423-0253
BUAH KELUAK ICE CREAM
At Candlenut, a progressive Peranakan restaurant headed by chef-owner Malcolm Lee, there's a mix of traditional and innovative fare. It still offers an a la carte menu with crowd favourites such as babi pongteh and ayam buah keluak, for lunch, but at dinner, a daily set menu is available ($50 to $65 a person).
And the dishes get a whole lot more exciting when the options are left to the chef.
Some items really stand out. Thin, delicate house-made kueh pie tee shells are filled with slices of yellowtail and lemongrass, onion and laksa leaf. The shell has a light crunch, while the filling gives the palate a gentle caress.
The star dish is the char-grilled quail. It is tender, succulent and finger-licking good, with fried curry leaves, chilli and crispy garlic.
For dessert, you get to choose from four options. I like chef Lee's new take on the traditional black nut that's usually used in stews. Here, he has turned buah keluak into a rich, sweet-savoury ice cream (above) with Valrhona chocolate.
The restaurant will be relocating to Dempsey Hill later this year.
WHERE: Candlenut, 01-03 Dorsett Residences, 331 New Bridge Road MRT: Outram OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm (weekday), 6 to 10pm (Monday to Saturday). Closed for lunch on Saturday, all day on Sunday and public holiday TEL: 8121- 4107 INFO: Go to www.candlenut.com.sg or e-mail email@example.com. Reservations can also be made online