OLD-SCHOOL KAYA TOAST
Kaya toast these days is ubiquitous. You can get it everywhere and, most of the time, it tastes pretty generic.
So when I take a bite of cooking doyenne Violet Oon's Nyonya Kaya Toast ($7, above), I am a bit startled. The coconut milk and egg custard tastes exactly like the one my mother makes. There is an old-school taste, a definite eggy flavour, that is familiar and comforting.
Instead of spreading the kaya on the thick toast and topping it with slices of cold butter, the kaya sits on top in a blob. It is the star of this breakfast and deserves the spotlight.
Other offerings at breakfast in the revamped restaurant include Roti Violet, mini prata with sweet or savoury toppings. My vote goes to Chickpea Masala ($12, above, left). The chickpeas are cooked to tenderness in a coriander masala and there is a not-too-spicy tomato chutney and crispy dahl too. The flavours are lively and vibrant.
Wash it all down with a cup of Kopi VO "O" ($4.50), a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans roasted with margarine and caramel. The Arabica beans posh it up a bit, but it is the Robusta ones that supply the power. WHERE: Violet Oon Singapore, 881 Bukit Timah Road MRT: Holland Village OPEN: Breakfast: 9 - 11.30am (Sat & Sun), noon - 2.30pm, 6 - 10.30pm (Tue - Fri), 11.30am - 2.30pm, 6 - 10.30pm (Sat & Sun), closed on Mon TEL: 6468-5430
SUNDAY TREATS AT LES AMIS
Sundays are when I try to make like a hermit and stay home. But these days, I have a compelling reason to get out: lunch at Les Amis.
The restaurant at Shaw Centre used to be closed on Sundays, but in response to diners, it has been open every day of the week since May. Its $90 five-course lunch, with a choice of main course and dessert, is good value for money.
Some of the dishes, such as cold angel hair pasta with truffle and caviar; and seared foie gras, are the sort of dishes that were in vogue, say, a decade ago. But this does not make them any less delicious.
At lunch recently, I am taken by Warm Lobster Rouelle (left), lobster and langoustine mousse wrapped into a ball with spinach leaves and topped with salmon roe. The seafood is impeccable and the fish bone stock slurpworthy.
I pick roast beef tenderloin over salmon for the main course and am glad for it. The Tellicherry pepper sauce on top of the meat is aromatic, with nuances that are usually drowned out by heat.
For dessert, I have Mandarin Granite, which comes with coconut ice cream and maple syrup. The cool, light dessert is just the thing on a hot day, and instead of lurching home for a nap, I have the energy to do a bit of shopping post-lunch. WHERE: Les Amis, 01-16 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: Noon, with last seating at 2pm, 7pm with last seating at 9.30pm, daily TEL: 6733-2225
KUEH SALAT WITH DURIAN
How can you top a perfectly made kueh salat? Well, you swop out the pandan custard topping with a durian custard one.
It is durian season and Chalk Farm is putting the king of fruit to good use. I am a big fan of the cake company's regular kueh salat, but this seasonal version is even better.
Pulp from Wang Zhong Wang durians, a premium version of Mao Shan Wang, is used for the custard layer. Although the fruit is bitter when eaten as is, that does not quite come through in the custard. Instead, there is a caramelised sweetness and a pungency that tells you there is quite a bit of durian in that custard.
The rice layer, streaked with the blue from butterfly pea flowers, is perfect. It used to be slightly hard but now, it is just rich and yielding.
A 2kg cake, which serves 12, costs $150 and it is $12.50 a slice. Order three to four days in advance. The cake is available for as long as Wang Zhong Wang is available. Call to check. WHERE: Chalk Farm, B1-K24 Paragon & B1-83M Parkway Parade MRT: Orchard/Dakota OPEN: 10am - 9pm daily (Paragon), 10am - 10pm daily (Parkway Parade) TEL: 6235-2872 (Paragon)/6348-2032 (Parkway Parade)
While I really enjoy nasi briyani, I try not to have it often because of the food coma that ensues after I indulge.
So imagine my surprise when, after a briyani lunch at Black Sheep Cafe, I am not yawning, do not need an espresso to stay awake and manage to be more than lucid post-lunch.
The cafe's Nasi Briyani ($12.90, left), available only at lunch time, is clearly a winner. The long-grain basmati rice is light and aromatic, not as rich as many of the versions I have had. It is topped with cashews, sultanas and half a boiled egg.
There is a choice of two curries and I would say the chicken has a slight edge over the mutton one. It has pieces of cashews in it, but manages not to be too rich. What comes through are the spices. The mutton packs something of a chilli kick and would be perfect if the meat is just a bit more tender.
Rounding off the set meal are a terrific banana and date chutney, four papadums and a salad with yogurt dressing.
When I dine there, the salad features rose apple, cucumber and lettuce.
Perfect to cool the palate after that mutton curry. WHERE: Black Sheep Cafe, B1-30 Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road MRT: Marymount OPEN: 11.30am - 3pm, 6 - 11pm (Tue - Thu), 11.30am - 11pm (Fri - Sun), closed on Mon TEL: 6459-5373