Sweet treats at Mr Bucket's bon bons
Enter the wonderful world of Mr Bucket, a chic home-grown chocolaterie off Upper Thomson Road.
Inspired by the children's book Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by British author Roald Dahl, Mr Bucket's 32-year-old founder Jerome Penafort sees the shop as a continuation of the story of the main character Charlie Bucket.
Mr Penafort - co-founder of bean-to-bar chocolate maker Benns Ethicoa - is no stranger to the local chocolate scene. He works closely with small cacao farmers in the region and does collaborations with other Singapore brands.
It is therapeutic to see the chefs at work in the chocolate room, as they carefully craft each bon bon (from $19 for a box of six, add 50 cents a piece for premium flavours).
I have two favourites. One is the Double Soy Caramel, where the centre ganache is made with two types of soya sauce from the renowned Kwong Woh Hing soy sauce brand, and encased in a 72 per cent Sungai Ruan Dark Chocolate Ganache shell.
The other is Mala Mild Spicy, with a white and dark chocolate mala ganache using mala oil from local zi char shop Hao Zhang Ji in Boon Lay.
You can also get chocolate bars ($7 each). Dark chocolate lovers will love the 80 per cent dark Anaimalai Single Estate bar from India, which has a long, smooth finish.
Pre-orders are open for the Christmas bon bons hampers (from $54.90) - go for the Earl Grey bergamot and mulled wine - and a drinking chocolate kit (from $25), which comes with dark and milk chocolate buttons, mini marshmallows and a festive spice blend.
WHERE: Mr Bucket Chocolaterie, 01-15, 23 Sin Ming Road
OPEN: Noon to 6pm (Wednesdays to Fridays), 10am to 6pm (weekends), closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
INFO: Mr Bucket's website
Taste of Peru at Ola
Ola Cocina Del Mar may be a Spanish restaurant, but for the next few weeks, let chef-owner Daniel Chavez transport you to Peru.
He has launched four dishes which pay homage to the rich biodiversity and fresh produce from the South American country. The limited-time menu is supported by Promperu, an agency that promotes Peruvian exports and tourism.
Start the meal with Ceviche Inka ($32++), where chunks of raw fish are served with a tangy passionfruit tiger's milk, criolla, purple sweet potato and chia seeds; followed by Causa Los Andes ($28++), a yellow potato salad with tricolour quinoa, prawns and avocado puree.
The star dish for me is Arroz Chaufa ($36++) - Peru's version of Chinese fried rice - which has red and white quinoa, calamari, octopus, pork, and dollops of tartar sauce.
Complete the meal with Ola Suspiro Limeno ($14++), a dark chocolate tart baked with dulce de leche, camu camu berry powder (a sour berry native to the Amazon rainforest) and dried Inca golden berries.
WHERE: Ola Cocina Del Mar, 01-05/06 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 12 Marina Boulevard
MRT: Downtown/Raffles Place
WHEN: Till Dec 18, noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 6 to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
INFO: E-mail email@example.com
Art meets food at The Parlour Mirage
A collaboration with artist hub The Parlour Singapore, The Parlour Mirage is home to artist and creative studios on the second floor of a shophouse off the bustling Little India area.
On the ground floor, you can kick back with yakitori and craft beer at its restaurant. The menu features mainly modern Japanese cuisine, with some Mediterranean elements of pita bread, dips and salads that are good for sharing.
Yakitori options (available after 6pm) include Hokubee beef cubes ($9.50), king oyster mushroom ($6.50) and eggplant ($4.50). If you cannot decide, go for the yakitori sharing platters (from $18).
For comfort food, order the rice bowls, which include Hokubee beef ($24), unagi ($23), salmon ($20) and spicy teriyaki chicken ($16).
Other dishes to try are fried cheese cubes ($10) drizzled with thyme honey - warning, it is addictive - and tuna tartare ($18).
The restaurant also showcases works by local artists and its music playlist features local productions.
When pandemic restrictions ease, I look forward to the space come alive with live music acts.
WHERE: The Parlour Mirage, 140 Owen Road
MRT: Farrer Park
OPEN: Noon to 10.30pm daily