REVEL IN NOSTALGIA
In the middle of lunch at Jubilee Coffee House & Bar in Changi, Paul Anka's famous song, The Times Of Your Life, comes on. It seems a supremely ironic moment that might have been made up, only it really happens.
There he is, asking if I "remember the times of your life".
I look around the old bungalow that houses the restaurant and the dining room is filled with tchotchkes from the past and the sort of artworks that are so uncool that they are cool.
I have seen these same things in the homes my family lived in and in those of relatives and friends. Yes, they are part of the times of my life.
The food is retrolicious too, a mix of local and "western" food that used to be all the rage when restaurants were called coffee houses.
I order Pork Cutlet Rice With Curry ($18), breaded pork served with a bowl of curry gravy. The pork has bite and is thick enough. The curry gravy is full of potato chunks, cooked so long that the spices permeate every soft piece.
It is good, but I think I might like the Jubilee Hor Fun ($17, main photo) better.
The rice noodles have a wonderful sear and wok hei. Although the dish is drowning in gravy, I don't mind as it has an old-school taste that zi char places rarely get right these days.
The generous helping of prawns, squid, clams, sliced barramundi and sliced pork adds to the allure.
Also worth ordering is Curry Chicken ($14). This gravy manages to taste different from the one that comes with the pork cutlet. It has more depth of flavour, the result of chicken pieces having been simmered in it.
Servings are generous, but make room for Chendol ($7), a large mug of green rice flour worms, kidney beans and finely shredded grass jelly in light coconut milk and gula melaka.
Lunch in this tranquil place helps me remember the times of my life and I also know that "The mem'ries are time that you borrow/To spend when you get to tomorrow".
WHERE: Jubilee Coffee House & Bar, 580 Netheravon Road MRT: Pasir Ris TEL: 6543-0060 OPEN: 10.30am to midnight (Monday to Thursday), 10.30 to 1am (Friday), 9.30 to 1am (Saturday), 9.30am to 10.30pm (Sunday) INFO: jubileecoffeehouse.com
The one weakness in the Japanese restaurant scene in Singapore is that few of them can specialise in just one dish. In Japan, there are many places that do only yakitori or tempura.
I have been looking for a good unagi restaurant here, but at most restaurants, the eel is usually enormous, glazed with too much sauce and does not have the soft, melting texture of good Japanese eel.
Chikuyotei at the InterContinental Singapore serves excellent unagi. It is done two ways, grilled and Kabayaki, which is unagi grilled with sauce.
I prefer the version without sauce and the set meals for lunch are priced from $76. That sounds steep, but there is an appetiser, a clear soup with a fish and crab ball, sashimi, the unagi with rice, pickles and dessert.
I sprinkle my eel liberally with aromatic sansho pepper and a drizzle of sauce, which turns out to be superfluous. It is a pleasure biting into a properly prepared piece of eel.
The weather man says it is going to be hot in the next couple of weeks. Revive yourself with eel, a traditional Japanese summer food.
WHERE: Chikuyotei, 80 Middle Road, InterContinental Singapore, 01-01 MRT: Bugis TEL: 6738-1900 OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily
NEW CHEESE CAKES AT KKI
I have not visited Kki, a delightful little cake shop, since it moved from the Ann Siang area to the School of the Arts.
But now is a good time because it has introduced a series of cheese cakes, to temporarily replace the mousse cakes it is famous for. About eight to 10 flavours are available every day.
I will say Matcha ($4.80) is my favourite. The flavour of the powdered Japanese green tea is plenty intense and the base of the cake is studded with sesame seeds. Eaten together, there is an umami flavour that is unusual in a dessert.
The Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana ($4.80) is equally good because all three elements are perfect together. I wish the peanut butter stands out more, but that is a minor quibble.
Dark Chocolate With Kirsch Cherries ($5.80) is velvety smooth and tastes more like a very intense chocolate cake than a cheese one.
The cakes will be available for about three months, but let's hope the best-selling flavours will be a permanent addition to the selection.
WHERE: Kki, 1 Zubir Said Drive, School of the Arts, 02-01 MRT: Dhoby Ghaut TEL: 6225-6650 OPEN: Noon to 8pm (Tuesday to Friday), noon to 7pm (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) INFO: www.kki-sweets.com
CHICKEN FIX AT TWINS
Korean restaurants with shouty signboards are everywhere in Tanjong Pagar, but Twins, in a quiet part of Craig Road, bucks the trend. The restaurant, with high ceilings, has dark grey walls and minimal decor.
I guess the food speaks for itself.
Twins Park Woo Jae and Sung Jae, both 26, are behind the restaurant, which serves some mighty fine grub.
The Soy & Garlic chicken wings ($18, above) has a glaze that is not too sweet and plenty of punchy garlic. It wakes me right up.
Also catching my fancy is Soy & Lemon Kkanpungki ($22 for medium), boneless fried chicken showered with leeks and dried chillies. The lemon is elusive, but the chicken with the sweet leeks and hot chilli is moreish.
Wash it all down with Ice Cream Beer ($14.50), available in honey and vanilla flavours. The glasses of beer are topped with something that resembles a cross between soft-serve ice cream and sorbet. They are endlessly refreshing.
WHERE: Twins, 7 Craig Road MRT: Tanjong Pagar TEL: 6221-5205 OPEN: 11am to 3pm, 5pm to midnight (Monday to Saturday), 5pm to midnight (Sunday)