MODERN SUSHI BAR AND HIGHBALL DEN IN STANLEY STREET
Chi Kinjo is the latest restaurant and bar by the team behind Sum Yi Tai and Mona Lounge in Boon Tat Street and Eliza Cocktail Bar in Telok Ayer Street.
It has fun, relaxed and cheeky vibes with delicious eats and fabulous drinks, which makes for a great night out with friends or after-work drinks with colleagues.
The restaurant serves only dinner and drinks for now, but come Jan 28, it will also be open for lunch - think modern bento boxes and large, flat sushi rolls called sushi sandwiches.
So far, I like everything I have tried. Its Ming Dynasty Tofu ($12) - housemade tofu with crunchy water chestnut topped with a creamy century egg sauce, chunks of crab and shredded century egg - is one of the best versions of this dish I have had.
The selection of aburi nigiri sushi ($12 for two sushi), salmon and foie gras to truffle scallop, are tasty little morsels that you will want to keep eating.
There are also sushi rolls with fillings such as spicy tuna ($16) and prawn tempura with mentai mayonnaise ($20).
Expect a well-curated selection of sake and a wide range of highballs beyond the classic whisky highball, including a shisho sake Shisho Watermelon highball ($14) and a refreshing Gin & Ginger highball ($14) made with Tanqueray, ginger, lime mint and ginger beer.
Have your meal on the second floor and head to the bar in the basement for more drinks after.
WHERE: Chi Kinjo, 29 Stanley Street
MRT: Telok Ayer
OPEN: 5pm to 1am (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays. The kitchen closes at 10pm (Mondays to Wednesdays) and 10.45pm (Thursdays to Saturdays)
TOA PAYOH BAK CHOR MEE STALL LAI HENG RELOCATES
To my fellow bak chor mee lovers, I thought I had better get the word out: Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle has relocated from Toa Payoh Lorong 6 to a coffee shop in Toa Payoh Lorong 4. The stall opened at its new location at the beginning of last month.
Compared to the previous location, this coffee shop is surrounded by more greenery and is much cooler and breezier, even on sunny days. Although, perhaps it is Singapore's somewhat colder December-January weather that we ought to be thankful for.
Prices are still the same. They start at $4 a bowl.
I always ask for extra chilli with my noodles so that there is enough to coat every strand. The chilli here is round and mellow, aromatic and mildly spicy.
Last week, I had bak chor mee tai mak or silver needle noodles. These short noodles, which resemble rats' tails, absorb the full flavour of the chilli-vinegar sauce.
I slurped up every tail.
WHERE: Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle, Block 73 Toa Payoh Lorong 4, 01-611
MRT: Toa Payoh
OPEN: 8am to 4pm, closed on Wednesdays
INFO: Go to www.facebook.com/laihengmmmm
NEWLY REVAMPED ORCHARD CAFE
The Orchard Cafe at Orchard Hotel Singapore has been renovated. The interior is now much more sleek, and the food, much more enticing.
The international buffet spread boasts everything from sashimi and sushi, to seafood such as prawns and oysters, double-boiled soup, Western and Indian fare, satay and Nonya kueh.
The menu changes every day. When I dined there earlier this week, there was full-flavoured Japanese wagyu ribeye steak at the grill station, cooked a perfect medium-rare. It is the first time I have had such good quality beef at a hotel buffet at lunchtime.
Another highlight here is the sambal section, which boasts eight styles of sambal from sambal belachan to sambal hijau, made with green chillies. Eat them with the various types of crackers.
The live noodle station's daily offering ranges from bak chor mee to Penang curry noodles, with Thai boat noodles and tom yum noodles soon to be included on the list.
The buffet may sometimes include a deliciously simple dish of noodles tossed in scallion oil that goes great with the daily roast meats selection, supplied by award-winning Cantonese restaurant Hua Ting, which is at the same hotel.
The soft-serve ice cream station, which churns ice cream in flavours such as Horlicks and pandan kaya, will make you feel like a kid in a candy store. Help yourself to sprinkles, chocolate chips, cookie crumble - the works.
WHERE: The Orchard Cafe, Orchard Hotel Singapore, 442 Orchard Road
OPEN: 6am to 10.30am daily (breakfast buffet), noon to 2.30pm daily (lunch buffet), 6 to 10pm daily (dinner buffet)
PRICE: $32 (breakfast), $58 (weekday lunch), $62 (weekend lunch), $78 (dinner from Mondays to Thursdays), $88 (dinner, Fridays and weekends)
INFO: Go to www.orchardhotel.com.sg
CNY SNACKS BY JANICE WONG
When Chinese New Year snacks are aplenty, it can be tough to decide which ones are worth the calories.
This year, I cannot get enough of the peanut cookies ($25 a jar with 40 cookies) by local pastry chef Janice Wong, who runs an eponymous patisserie and chocolaterie.
The cookies crumble and melt in your mouth. I love the salty savouriness, too. I inhaled four of these cookies in one sitting.
The child in me also likes the strawberry chocolate love letters ($18) - a giant, fancier and more sophisticated inside-out version of Glico's strawberry Pocky pretzels. Here, each love letter roll is filled with a generous amount of sweet strawberry chocolate.
The Chinese New Year snacks are available while stocks last, until Feb 19 .
WHERE: Janice Wong Singapore at Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, B1- K28; and Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road, B1-48
MRT: Orchard and City Hall
OPEN: Paragon - 10am to 9pm daily; Raffles City - 10am to 10pm daily. Both shops close at 6pm on Feb 4, and are closed on Feb 5