BEEF BOWL HEAVEN
I might have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again: I have a small obsession with finding the perfect Japanese-style beef bowl.
Things that go through my head: Does the rice have enough bite? Why has the beef been cut along the grain? Love the onsen egg. Oh, too much truffle oil.
Black Cow at South Beach Avenue offers a Premium Wagyu All-In-One Don ($85). This luxe version comes with uni, foie gras, caviar, shaved truffles and Japanese Joshu beef. It's a tad heavy on the seasoning, but tasty and delicious nonetheless. Alternate mouthfuls of flavourful beef with generous chunks of seared foie gras and uni which add umami to the dish. Heaven.
For lunch, there is a cheaper version with just beef, or beef and foie gras, priced at $45 a bowl.
The restaurant also has sukiyaki and shabu shabu (from $70 a set). I had the Kagoshima Japanese Wagyu shabu shabu set ($98) - enough for two if you share a beef bowl and an appetiser. Well-marbled Japanese beef swished in dashi and dipped in ponzu is always a hit with me.
WHERE: Black Cow, B1-20 South Beach Avenue, 26 South Beach Road MRT: Esplanade/City Hall OPEN: Noon to 3pm, last order: 2.30pm; 6 to 10.30pm, last order: 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays and public holidays TEL: 6386-6720 INFO: E-mail dining@blackcow. com.sg or go to www.blackcow.com.sg
THAI-INSPIRED GRAIN BOWL
Grain bowl shops have now become a staple in Singapore's food scene. The bowls, which usually feature a base of grains such as quinoa, sushi rice or brown rice, are especially popular among the more health-conscious.
Last week, I rounded up a list of places for grain and poke bowls (click here for the story). Chalong in Tanjong Pagar Centre is another one to check out.
There are three proteins to choose from - 18-hour sous vide Iberico pork jowl ($12, photo), Thai basil charcoal-grilled chicken ($9) and grass-fed black angus sirloin ($14).
Each bowl comes with a choice of brown or white Japanese rice and a mi-cuit egg, which is a fancy French way of saying "half-cooked" - just think runny yolk. Add-ons (from $1) include asparagus, confit cherry tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms.
Go for the pork jowl bowl. The pork has a smoky apple wood flavour, a lovely crisp and blackened char around the edges, and a subtle marinade of Thai herbs. The sauce it is served with is sweet, but pleasantly so.
This was a delicious meal that kept me full and energetic all the way till dinner time.
WHERE: Chalong, B2-21 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street MRT: Tanjong Pagar OPEN: 11.30am to 2pm, 5.30 to 7.30pm (weekdays only); closed on weekends INFO: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.chalongsg.com
YUMMY FISH AND CHIPS
Fish & Chicks, a Western stall in a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio, specialises in battered and grilled fish, and chicken - grilled, fried, with various sauces and marinades.
It serves everything from lemon butter grilled fish ($8.50) to Mexican grilled chicken ($8.50).
I was craving fish and chips and its Best Of Both Worlds set ($13.80, photo) called out to me. It comes with two sizeable pieces of battered fish - one topped with savoury salted egg sauce and the other slathered with a sweet-spicy chilli crab-inspired gravy - plus chips and a side dish.
The crisp batter, fried to a deep golden brown, encases a flaky, steamed piece of fish.
DINE AT THE TEMPLE
If you have friends visiting from out of town, take them to Chong Wen Ge Cafe in Telok Ayer Street for a taste of local cuisine and some nuggets of Singapore history.
The cafe is within the grounds of the heritage Hokkien temple Thian Hock Keng. The national monument was built in 1839 and is one of Singapore's oldest temples.
Here, the tabletops are adorned with pretty Peranakan tiles, which not only make for great conversation starters about Singapore culture, but also Instagram-worthy food photos.
While it serves dishes such as chicken curry with rice ($10.80), mee siam ($7.80) and satay bee hoon ($10.80), as well as otah otah ($1.50), the one dish to try is its Nonya laksa ($10.80, photo). The rich, coconutty gravy has a good balance of flavours and just the right amount of spice.
I also like the achar ($3) - it reminds me of the homemade jars of pickles my family would receive over Chinese New Year.
For dessert, the cafe sells kueh such as kueh dadar, ondeh ondeh and kueh salat ($1.50 a piece or $5.50 for four). These usually sell out by mid-afternoon.
WHERE: Chong Wen Ge Cafe, 168 Telok Ayer Street MRT: Telok Ayer OPEN: 10am to 6pm daily TEL: 9168-3208 INFO: www.facebook.com/chongwengecafe