LUSH ICE CREAM, DIVINE CAKES
Sugarhaus, a new ice creamery and cake shop, has opened next to Island Creamery at Serene Centre. But its offerings, save for waffles, are different. The flavours of its ice cream vary greatly from its neighbour's too. Plus, it serves artisanal coffee by local roastery Liberty. The shop is a new iteration of now-defunct ice cream shop Bing Qi Lin in Seletar Hills.
I love the smooth and lush texture of its ice cream (from $3.50 a scoop) that comes in rich flavours such as charcoal vanilla, sea salt toffee, summer strawberry and Dutch chocolate. It also has soft serve which is made in small batches ($6 a swirl).
Its cakes, which are made in-house, are divine. Take, for example, its Matcha Sesame cake ($7.80 a slice). Layers of moist and buttery green tea cake are spread with light black sesame butter cream. It is a joy to eat.
Other options include London Fog, an Earl Grey cake; Mama's Butterscotch, a butterscotch cake with a layer of fresh banana; and a Galaxy cake with a frosting inspired by outer space.
The shop is teaming up with neighbouring food and beverage outlet The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough to serve simple brunch fare from early next year. I can't wait.
BEEF BOWL SO SATISFYING
GastroSmiths is one of those restaurants you are likely to walk past without noticing because it doesn't have frontage. The restaurant, which was previously in Beach Road, is now housed within home furnishings shop HomeToLife on the third floor of I12 Katong mall.
Aside from a small and inconspicuous standing sign at the store's entrance, there isn't much to tell you about this hidden bistro.
It has a fairly extensive menu with a range of small plates, sandwiches, rice, noodle and pasta dishes, as well as proteins such as meat and fish.
Some of the best dishes I have tried include the Signature Hokubee Ribeye Don ($26, photo) served with an onsen egg.
I'm going to come clean - I have a bit of an obsession with beef bowls and GastroSmiths does a satisfying version. The tender, medium-rare beef has a good char while the rice is mixed evenly with Japanese furikake seasoning. It's tasty and hearty.
The Black Truffle Mac & Cheese ($22) is a definite crowd-pleaser, though a tad too rich for me.
I like the Garoupa Somen ($24), which boasts a robust, gingery broth with silky, smooth somen, garoupa fillets, clams and cauliflower. The cauliflower florets, though seemingly out of place, soak up the flavours of the broth. My only gripe is that they could be cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
WHERE: GastroSmiths, 03-06 I12 Katong, 112 Katong Road MRT: Dakota OPEN: 11.30am to 9.30pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 10am to 9.30pm (weekends and public holidays), closed on Mondays
MODERN VIETNAMESE IN A FOODCOURT
Last month, a new Vietnamese eatery opened at the Asia Square Food Garden - to the delight of office workers there.
Pho-losophy offers pho (from $10), rice dishes (from $10), rice vermicelli bowls (from $10), banh mi (from $7) or Vietnamese sandwiches, and rice paper rolls (from $6).
There are two things I like here: pho and banh mi.
The pho comes with a choice of Australian Angus beef slices or Australian wagyu. There's also an option for pho with the works - tripe, flank, tendon and beef balls. The beef balls pack plenty of flavour and aren't the usual floury factory-made ones. The highlight is the broth. It looks deceptively mild, but is robust, with a sweetness of beef.
The banh mi is made with signature Vietnamese-style baguettes that are crusty and fluffy. Fillings include grilled beef, Vietnamese fishcake, chicken and succulent roast pork with crunchy crackling (photo).
WHERE: Pho-losophy, 02-14 Asia Square Food Garden, 8 Marina View MRT: Downtown OPEN: 10am to 9pm (weekdays), closed on weekends TEL: 6444-6288 INFO: pho-losophy.sg
CHOCOLATE STUMP CAKE FOR CHRISTMAS
Stump cakes are all the rage this Christmas - with the cakes modelled after tree stumps, not logs.
There's nothing pretentious about Old Seng Choong's 1.2kg stump cake ($62). I love that at first glance, it looks simple and wholesome, with an understated old-school feel.
Inside, a layer of boozy rum-soaked cake is sandwiched between moist chocolate devil's food cake spread with hazelnut buttercream. The cake is covered in a generous amount of chocolate ganache.
It is a lot more decadent than it appears and will be a hit with young and old. Great for Christmas parties.
WHERE: Old Seng Choong, 05-04 KA Foodlink, 171 Kampong Ampat MRT: Tai Seng WHEN: Available until Christmas Day TEL: 6282-0220 (call between 9am and 5pm) INFO: Order online at www.oldsengchoong.com. Cakes can be collected in person or delivered for a fee. Early-bird details online.