Noodles made from scratch
Mr James Lim, who owns Da Si Dai Handmade Noodles in Ghim Moh, takes pride in making three types of noodles from scratch daily.
The 67-year-old makes his ban mian, u-mian and mee hoon kuay from wheat flour and eggs. He prepares the dough every afternoon and uses a noodle-making machine to roll and cut it to the required thickness.
Mee Hoon Kuay ($3.50) is my favourite. The pork stock, which is clean-tasting and naturally cloudy from boiling the bones over high heat, has a meaty sweetness.
The slices of pork collar - seasoned simply with sesame oil, light soya sauce and cornflour - are tender and tasty. Other ingredients include minced pork, slices of aromatic shiitake mushroom and crunchy cai xin.
Mr Lim churns out noodles using his machine in small batches for optimal freshness.
His noodle dishes offer excellent value for money as the portions are generous and, with the exception of Fish Head Ban Mian, most of them come with a poached egg.
U-Mian Soup ($3.50) has the same combination of ingredients as Mee Hoon Kuay.
The noodles retain their springiness, even when left to sit in hot soup.
Consistency and attention to detail are his secret, says Mr Lim, who uses precise measurements to prepare his stock and noodle dough. He even weighs the noodles for each bowl he whips up.
He also prepares most of the condiments in-house, such as frying 10kg of ikan bilis every fortnight and making his tangy chilli dip using chilli padi, garlic and white vinegar.
Ban Mian Dry ($3.50) is popular among regulars. Much of the flavour comes from the use of garlic oil and shallot oil, which Mr Lim makes himself. He uses a premium grade of thick black dark soya sauce to season the noodles.
The fanciest item on the menu is Fish Head Ban Mian ($7). I can smell the Hua Tiao wine as he prepares the dish. The broth - packed with so much flavour from the fresh sweetness of red garoupa - does not need milk. The pieces of fish head are gelatinous and perfectly cooked.
My only gripe is that the scales cling to the gummy fish skin. This is a dish for fish lovers who do not mind grappling with the bones.
Where: Da Si Dai Handmade Noodles, Stall 4, 01-263 New Century Cafe, 19 Ghim Moh Road
MRT: Buona Vista
Open: Sundays to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 7am to 7pm; Saturdays, 7am to 3pm. Closed on Wednesdays
Tuxedo Cafe & Patisserie at Carlton Hotel Singapore has refreshed its menu with new confections that are a joy to eat.
Each petit gateau (little cake in French) by executive pastry chef Jackie Li, 50, is carefully constructed in design and flavour. He says it was a challenge to reduce the amount of sugar without affecting the taste and texture of the cakes.
But the cakes still satisfy a sweet tooth and have balanced flavours from the use of fruit.
My top pick is Black Sesame Flower Dome ($9.50++), which the chef says is inspired by black sesame soup, a traditional Chinese dessert .
The base is made of royaltine flakes mixed with black sesame paste. In the middle is a black sesame sponge cake with a filling of passion fruit, banana and pineapple. The fruit combination sounds odd, but the banana works well with the passion fruit's perfumed tartness and the pineapple's tropical flavour.
The filling keeps the black sesame from being overwhelming and the cake is topped with an elegantly piped black sesame chantilly cream.
Red Berries Tart ($9.50++) is a visual treat with its eye-popping red candy-coloured dome. The tart shell is filled with wild strawberry-infused frangipane and a layer of strawberry brulee. Inside the dome is a curd made from strawberry, raspberry and cranberry. A touch of yuzu adds a citrusy lift.
Also new is A Taste Of Summer ($9.50++), a painstaking construction of layers of fruity and nutty flavours, including pistachio sponge cake, mango cream, coconut mousse and passion fruit caramel cream. The tartness from the passion fruit complements the coconut flavour. The cake is well made and the layers stay together even as you slice through them with a fork.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake ($8.50++) and Black Forest Cake ($9.50++) are fresh takes on classic cakes.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake has a topping of chocolate whipped ganache and raspberry jelly, with a raspberry-filled macaron perched on top.
The disc-shaped Black Forest Cake contains a kirsch-laced vanilla mousse and a confit of Morello and sweet cherries. Unlike traditional versions, the smaller serving size and measured use of cream make this refreshingly palatable.
Chef Li is particularly proud of his Caramelia Banana Cake ($9.50++), which has a banana confit filling. No banana essence is used. He uses pisang mas - a thin-skinned banana with a sweet honey-like flavour - and leaves them to ripen naturally before use.
Gula Melaka Bread ($9.50++) is an interesting item. The brioche-like pastry has a creamy brown sugar and coconut filling similar to kaya.
Where: Tuxedo Cafe & Patisserie, Level One Carlton Hotel Singapore, 76 Bras Basah Road
MRT: City Hall
Open: 11am to 8pm daily