TACOS AND MARGARITAS
Month-old Papi's Tacos in Seah Street is the latest Mexican taqueria to open here. Itcan get quite crowded, so be prepared to wait for a seat at this gritty, no-reservations eatery.
I love the margaritas - classic ($15) or strawberry ($18), blended with ice or shaken over ice. The flavour of the day ($18) when I dined there last week was pineapple - refreshingly sweet-tart and fabulous. There is also a selection of tequila and mezcal.
Snack on tostadas, chips with guacamole and pico de gallo, and esquites (charred grilled corn, add a squeeze of lime for zip), then hone in on the tacos (from $11 for two).
The soft tortillas, which are made in-house from scratch, are filled with ingredients such as marinated pork, steak, chicken, fish and shrimp. I am especially fond of the fish taco - grilled dory topped with red cabbage and a spicy, smoked chipotle aioli. The combination of flavour and texture is a real winner.
The salsas, from mildly spicy to fiery, are housemade too and the fresh, lively flavour of the salsa verde won my heart over.
You must save space for a slice of tres leches cake ($8) - the only dessert on the menu. This lightly frosted cake made with milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk looks dense and heavy, but is quite the opposite. The airy cake has a lovely crumb and the perfect flavour.
WHERE: Papi's Tacos, 39 Seah Street MRT: City Hall OPEN: 5pm to midnight (Mondays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays) TEL: 6258-0701 INFO: E-mail email@example.com or go to www.papis-tacos.com. Walk-ins only
PANDAN KAYA CHEESE TART
You can never go wrong with pandan and kaya. The pairing is an all-time favourite among most local diners here.
Japanese cheese tart specialist Pablo rolled out a seasonal pandan kaya cheese tart to cater to local taste buds earlier this month.
Here, a moist layer of sponge cake spread with kaya jam is sandwiched between lush, pandan-coconut cheese filling.
The cake and the brand's signature flaky pastry help to cut through the richness of the cheese filling. It is much less cloying than the original version.
A whole tart costs $19.90 and a slice $5.50. I suggest a tart and drink set instead. For $8, you get a slice of the pandan kaya cheese tart and a choice of drink (priced between $5 and $7.50 each), which can range from coffee to iced matcha latte. The tart will be available until the end of next month.
WHERE: Pablo, two outlets - 01-02/03 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road; and 02-K05/06 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central MRT: Orchard/Serangoon WHEN: Now until Sept 30 OPEN: 10am to 10pm daily (Wisma Atria), 10.30am to 10.30pm daily (Nex) TEL: 6835-9269 (Wisma Atria), 6509 -0350 (Nex) INFO: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.pablo.com.sg
BRAISED DUCK KWAY TEOW
I much prefer thin kway teow when it comes to noodles. The flat rice noodles do a much better job of soaking up sambal and gravy.
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap in Smith Street has customers who flock there for duck rice and kway chap, but I like the duck kway teow ($3).
Here, kway teow is tossed in a piquant housemade sambal and a herbal gravy flavoured with spices such as cinnamon and star anise. It is then drizzled with garlic and shallot oil before serving. The sambal, made with chilli padi, belacan, shallots, garlic and dried shrimp, is very tasty.
When it comes to noodles, I am all about the sauce - the right balance, its fullness of flavour. For me, the kway teow gravy here is truly slurp-worthy.
The stall also recently introduced a duck tsukemen - dunk dry ramen, tossed in the same tasty chilli gravy, into its herbal soup.
WHERE: Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap, 02-156 Chinatown Complex, Block 335 Smith Street MRT: Chinatown OPEN: 10.30am to 6.30pm (Saturdays to Thursdays), closed on Fridays
COLD INANIWA UDON
Inaniwa Yosuke at Wisma Atria is my go-to restaurant for thin, smooth inaniwa udon. It brings in udon, based on a 150-year-old recipe, that is handmade in Akita Prefecture.
The udon is clean and silky - a joy to eat. Have it cold or hot, in soup with beef ($16.80 for lunch, $24.80 for dinner), in a curry gravy ($16.80 for lunch, $22.80 for dinner) or as part of a set with donburi or items such as grilled wagyu beef and tempura.
I like the tanuki udon best ($15.80 for lunch, $18.80 for dinner). Icy-cold udon is served in a shoyu-based dipping sauce and topped with sliced fresh tomato, julienned cucumber, shredded crab stick, an onsen egg and crunchy tempura bits. Add a smidgen of wasabi and toss well to eat.
The restaurant has a one-for-one weekday udon and rice set lunch deal (lunch sets range from $18.80 to $29.80).
WHERE: Inaniwa Yosuke, 04-45 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11am to 10pm daily TEL: 6262-3279 INFO: www.japanfoodtown.sg/stores/inaniwa-yosuke