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Perth, Australia: eats / hits

4 words: It’s been a while. Since I’ve been to Perth, that is. However, I really don’t want to forget the wonderful time I had in Perth and the beautiful pictures I took must be shared with the World Wide Web. Here goes nothing!

Perth has always been the quieter cousin of buzzy cities like Melbourne or Sydney. I LOVE IT. it’s quiet so you can always hear your thoughts and the drive throughout is always pleasant – few humans, few cars. What a win. Probably the only gripe I have is how far apart everything is but it’s nothing a car rental cannot solve.

1) Chu Bakery


This is on everybody’s Perth to-eat list, foodie or not. The Chu puffs are worth the A$5.90 price because they are put together exquisitely and the best part – there’s a layer of jelly within, which makes the puff so much more interesting. The raspberry Chu puff came came with a lychee jelly and the matcha puff, a yuzu jelly.

2) Threecoins Italian Trattoria

Celebrated my birthday here, and as usual, I overordered. Shared a pasta, a pizza, two sides and we needed a bigger table because our food couldn’t fit on our table. LOVE having problems like this.

We had the pumpkin and taleggio ravioli which was super cheesy (I know! And I had it…) but the pumpkin was so sweet and I’m a sucker for fresh made pasta! We also ordered a huge ciccona pizza to share – tomato, red onion, mozzarella, spicy salami, ham and sausage. The crust is thin and crispy and the ingredients, top notch. We also got a mussel stew with grilled bread and a broccolini to share. They were both spectacular. I wouldn’t mind spending my next birthday here either.

3) Flora and Fauna

Yup, this is a vegan cafe. We had the mushroom bagel with avocado which was probably the best bagel I’ve eaten? Flora and Fauna used two types of pesto in this bagel and portions were huge. We also added on a spiced scrambled eggs on the side and we left completely stuffed, having only shared 1 main, 1 side and a coffee. Portions are huge, food is healthy, yummy and instagrammable – the best, really.

4) Gusto Gelato

This is way better than Chicho Gelato, imo. While the flavours at Chicho were probably more innovative (I had rice gelato!), Gusto wins in terms of taste and texture. I had the strawberry chocolate chip, it is one of their bestselling flavours and it deserves all the mentions it gets online or on print magazines. The strawberry flavour is not too sweet nor artificial and is generously studded with chocolate chips. Exactly how I would imagine strawberries and cream in ice cream form to taste like.

5) Moana Coffee

  Located on the second floor of an old building, Moana is a rare find in the CBD. Opt for the seats at the balcony where you can look out at the shopping streets below. Plus there’s lots of sun, which makes perfect lighting for pictures! The food is decent – we had a bagel and a wrap with the best sun dried tomato accompaniment – but the space is something special. A perfect place to laze the day away.

It has really been a while since Perth (I went in November 2016) but better late than never, I guess? Can’t wait to go back!

Bangkok: Inter

I really liked Inter. If Thais had a cha chain teng equivalent, I think Inter would fit the bill. It seemed like a very local joint (well… as local as you can get – they have English menus) with people coming in to takeaway food. Well, I can understand – the pad thai is possibly the best rendition of the dish I’ve had! It just the right combination of sweet, sticky and charred flavours, with more ingredients than rice noodles. Kind of how I like it. The wok hei (charred bits, for the uninitiated) would give some of the best hawkers a run for their money. Best part: the delicate rice noodles were not overcooked and retained some bite.

Slightly more unphotogenic was the green curry with catfish, a rendition which I’ve never had. Would recommend this instead of the old boring chicken / beef green curry that most restaurants offer. The catfish was firm and did not flake easily. We also had stir fried morning glory (it really does taste better in Bangkok) and tom yum soup which hit the spot. Between Krau Apsorn and Inter, I preferred Inter although I think Krau Apsorn had the better tom yum soup.

 Make a visit to Mango Tango opposite the road when you’re done with lunch! This was the only mango sticky rice I had all trip… it was a cute dessert in a cup, and great to take on the go. The sticky rice was utterly addictive & the mango ice cream on top was really the icing on the cake. A great end to lunch (105 baht, ~S$4, ~£2).

Address: 432/1-2 Siam Square 9, 10330, Thailand (Inter), Siam Square Soi 5 (Mango Tango takeaway stand – look out for Som Tam, the restaurant opposite which is famous for… yup, som tam.)

Bangkok: Krau Apsorn

Hello from Bangkok, aka every Singaporean’s go to destination for food and shopping. It’s been 22 years since I’ve been here (yes I was 2 when my parents first brought me, and I haven’t returned since) and I had great expectations for all the food I was gonna eat! Early dinner at Krau Apsorn did not disappoint. Quite fitting that it was my first meal in Bangkok because I found it to be homely and comforting: it’s as though Bangkok was welcoming me back, twenty two years on.

 Crab fried rice. To be honest, not mindblowing, but it would have cost a bomb to add crab to your fried rice in Singapore so this is a steal! I was nursing a blocked nose so I really couldn’t taste the crab.. Nonetheless, this is a solid, decent plate of fried rice and it was cooked beautifully – the grains did not clump together.   TOM YUM SOUP!!! Being chickens, we obviously asked for less spicy.. And it came, just right for us. I find that Nakhon at home is too spicy for my tastebuds, so much that I can’t even enjoy my meal. This wasn’t the case. It was spicy but the spicy came at the end.. And the sourness really kicked in! best part: there were ten prawns in the soup. TEN. It also cost 150 baht (~S$6, or £3). My favourite tom yum soup by far (I’ve had about 3), full of mushrooms and prawns and so tangy & punchy! Crab omelette. Like the crab fried rice, the taste of the crab was lost in here. That aside, it is an excellent omelette – so incredibly fluffy, and it was better than my breakfast omelette at the Renaissance.

Stir fried Chinese greens with deep fried pork – never have been a fan of crispy pork skin but I demolished this! The ratio of pork to crispy skin was perfect for me and made my supposedly healthiest dish for the night into well, something sinful. NO REGRETS THOUGH.

In all, a wonderful start to the trip. If I lived in Bangkok, this would be my neighbourhood tze char joint.

Address: 169 Dinso Road, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Tokyo: WHAT TO EAT

I feel like I have to blog about Tokyo before I get all lazy and forget about it, and then the post never materialises. This Tokyo trip was highly highly spontaneous, meaning that other than Disney, Nick and I didn’t plan ANYTHING at all. The only planning that we did was what to eat, and that was done about an hour before we were supposed to eat. So, this list is probably still a work in progress, but… I did discover new gems, and found new places that I’d like to make a return trip to again.

1. Matsurokuya


Right. If you follow me on social media, you’re probably really sick and tired of hearing me rave about this place. Located in a small alleyway parallel to the Roppongi-dori, if you don’t know about it, you will NOT stumble onto it. Thankfully I stalk food blogs. Anyway, this is the kind of ridiculously expensive place that I would not have the moolah to fork out for dinner, but lunch sets are INCREDIBLY affordable at about 1500yen per set. And you get a full tray of pickles/appetizers AND extra rice after (to make your own ochazuke!) If you pry beneath the beautiful layer of marbled beef, you’d uncover another surprise of… COOKED BEEF!! Soaked with some kind of amazing beef shoyu/marinade, this was a meal that I wished had never ended.

If that wasn’t enough, it’s a private dining concept so Nick and I had a small room all to ourselves, with no other humans around!!!!!!!! Overall, I’d say this was more an experience than a meal, and I wish I ate it earlier in the trip so I could’ve gone back AGAIN. It opens at 11.30, and when Nick and I joined the queue at 11.10 we just missed the first seating, so we only got in at 12.30. Come at 11 to queue.

2. Tenya


I know, A CHAIN!!! A tempura one at that. This is one of the most affordable meals ever in pricey Tokyo; and 500yen can get you a heartwarming bowl of tendon. Imagine: crisp tempura over a bed of pearly rice and a drizzle of that tempura sauce……. I’d add on the onsen tamago for a greater umami kick. Depending on where you go and your luck, sometimes the tempura is a bit soggy, but it is very hard to complain for the price that we paid (less than 1000yen vs Tsunahachi’s minimum of 2000yen per person). The Shinjuku branch near Mizuho building was quiet on a Saturday at lunchtime and my tempura was perfectly crisp when it got to me – the Ueno branch was soggy as hell (also on a weekend). I usually get the fancier stuff and paid 880yen for the set above.

3. Gogyo


Introduced to me by my fellow Tokyophile (is this a proper term to describe people who like Tokyo??) Marcus, Gogyo left an impression on me when I visited it for the first time in 2013. Gogyo’s ramen is unlike any I’ve ever tried, and I’d say this is THE ramen to beat. Burnt miso ramen is what you should get, and I always get extra cabbage because I always feel unhealthy without having any greens! The noodles here are thicker than normal noodles (think: the middle ground between hakata ramen noodles and tokyo ramen noodles) which helps to soak up that thick burnt miso. It packs quite a flavour punch and is a VERY VERY HEAVY MEAL. Two small eaters can share one portion. If all that I said wasn’t enough reason: Gogyo has the same owners as Ippudo – the ramen is bound to be pretty damn good.

4. Bochi Bochi


We only came to Bochi Bochi because the place we wanted to go to was full. This is the kind of place you shouldn’t go to if you hate smoke because well, people smoke inside. I wanted to cry. Okonomiyaki, it should be noted, is a dish that comes from Osaka and actually, Tokyo has its own version (which I’ve never tried. and not really interested in….). The star of Bochi Bochi however, wasn’t the okonomiyaki but the GRILLED BUTTER SOY SAUCE SQUID. I can’t believe I’ve never had butter soy sauce squid when these ingredients are so easily available and together, they seriously create some form of mad magic and results in a crazy ass combination!!!!!!

5. Kanda Matsuya


One of the things I wish was easier to find in Singapore is hand-pulled soba. There is a lot more bite and chew to the soba noodle as compared to packeted soba. And I love that the pride of the soba maker is evident in the noodles that he produces. Here I had goma soba (soba in sesame sauce). It had no frills but was easily one of the most satisfying meals around. Come at about 7 and the queue will have disappeared by then.

It was really hard to write just about a few places in Tokyo that I really enjoyed because I really liked everything I had. Most of the time when Nick and I were lazy we’d go out to the departmental stores and get some food and watch How to Get Away with Murder.. there is such a huge array of food available at the departmental stores which I think people forget about sometimes. I do miss the salad selection and you would too because:


While they are pricey and visually stunning, they do taste as great as they look. Well, at least the two salads I tried did not disappoint at all.

Last but not least,

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The sweet potato x hokkaido milk soft serve at Imoya Kinjiro is worth making a detour at Nihombashi for. But if you stay at the Mandarin, good for you! This is literally about 300m away from you, and is Imoya Kinjiro’s only store in Tokyo. The sweet potato sticks are insanely addictive and I brought about 6 bags home. The staff at the store are very helpful and though we didn’t speak a word of Japanese, they did their best to help us decipher the different types of sweet potato snacks they sold. PERFECT SOUVENIRS!!! And don’t make the amateur mistake of sharing the soft serve like we did because such good things should not be shared between two people or god forbid, three humans.

I didn’t manage to eat much chirashi don in Tokyo because for some reason it’s really quite difficult to find chirashi? I think most Japanese eat sushi or sliced fish on rice (kaisendon). I’m not sure as to the difference between chirashi don and kaisendon but I feel like if you have the money, definitely fork some out for raw fish. I wasn’t very impressed by the rice bowl I had at Tsukiji so it’s not on here. (BUT Sushi Dai still remains one of the best sushi experiences in my life!!!) I also tried the chirashi at Sushi Sho this time round but I’m a bit ambivalent about it. Sushi Sho is one of Tokyo’s worst kept secrets – he’s the guy who Michelin will never write about but is really respected within the sushi scene – and for lunch he serves chirashi for only 2000yen. (I CAN’T AFFORD DINNER). However, his fish is dry aged so it’s quite different from what we’re used to here in Singapore. Nonetheless I think it’s worth a go. He opens at 11.30; get there at 11.20 and of course, if anyone has thoughts on dry aged sashimi/chirashi dons or any other Tokyo food recommendations, please let me know! I will definitely go back to Tokyo.

I’m not sure if I’d ever write about how I survived Tokyo Disneyland/sea but I feel like Disneysea is worth going and even if nobody likes Disney, just for their milk tea popcorn. Mmmmmm

San Francisco: Bay Area, Stanford & Palo Alto

Yes, I know, I came back from San Francisco more than a month ago – somehow I feel like chronicling my foodventures through the places I’ve been is a lot simpler and easier than just a restaurant in itself. Feel like a place does influence the kind of food people tend to cook cos 1) culture and 2) profitability. I mean, you see like a smorgasbord of pressed juices/green juice/kale in SF, which is definitely not as prevalent as say, HK (yes, HK post coming right up). Also what better time to write a new entry than when I have 3 tutorials in the next 3 days?? Gah, ethics….

After the culinary high that was Melbourne and Sydney, I have commented to people that I doubt I’d be able to find a place that matches up to them both because almost every single meal was a “WOW!!!” from me. For people who don’t know me, I categorise my life/experiences into roughly these 5 categories: ‘wow factor’, pretty great, good, alright and meh.

SAN FRANCISCO: WHAT I LIKED
(disclaimer: my time was spent mostly around Palo Alto, a chichi suburban neighbourhood where Stanford is located, and it honestly felt pretty dang good to be away from the crazy ass city life for a bit.)

1. La Tacqueria, The Mission District
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Ah, tacos in the mission district. This is definitely a MUST DO in San Francisco. Alight at 16th Mission and take a leisurely stroll down (or up?) to the 24th. La Tacqueria is conveniently located on the 23rd if I recall correctly.

THESE TACOS ARE NOT NORMAL TACOS. They are soft tacos wrapped around with a crisp hard taco and filled with the most luscious guac, pico de gallo and whatever choice of meat you choose. Rj ordered for us and BOYYYYYYY these were fan-freaking-tastic. They were dripping with goodness, (yum I love messy food) but THE TACO SHELLS (skins???) RETAINED THEIR STRUCTURE TILL THE VERY END. I did not want to give up the last mouthful to Tebello.. but anyway the point is. Come eat here. I haven’t had that many tacos before, and I’m not sure if taco joints all around the world do this soft taco/crisp taco thing, but that was the highlight for me. That and the perfectly charred meat and copious amount of guac heaped onto my taco. We also had agua frescas but they tasted like sugary watermelon & mango juice diluted with water. I’m not sure I’d try it again… but damn these tacos. If I ever go back I’m not sharing any.

So the Mission isn’t really my favourite part of town because the only word to describe it is DODGY (or sketchy, if you’re American)…. and the smell of pee is everywhere. Walk one block down to Valencia and it’s a whole new world. I would like to own a house on Valencia tbh. It is such a hip, happening place with great spots like…

2. Craftsman & Wolves
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THIS PLACE IS EPIC!!!!! C&W is most well known for ‘The Rebel Within’ – a savoury muffin with sausage, asiago, green onion and an entire gooey soft cooked farm egg in the middle. Don’t even know how they manage to keep the yolk runny, but what a gorgeous sight when I sliced it down the middle. So, the verdict on this? I wished it was warmed up.. and I think fans of cheese would love The Rebel Within. It was one of the most unique things I’ve ever tried, and a pity I couldn’t truly appreciate its full awesomeness because well, I don’t like cheese. That said, the farm egg in the middle is a genius idea – who would’ve thought? My coffee was excellent & my takeaway blackberry muffin was bursting with blackberry goodness. Topped with bran flakes, it made a wonderful lunch. I love it here.

3. Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto
Stanford students have it so frkn good, and I am insanely jealous of every single one of them because they have this frkn epic ice cream shop at their doorstep. When Rj told me Tin Pot was voted best icecream shop in Palo Alto I was kinda skeptical, but after having it, I think it should be declared best icecream in San Francisco. Humphrey Slocombe cannot compare. AT ALL. I had the blueberry lavender & pumpkin and oat strusel; I think the latter was a halloween special. I really cannot stand it when my icecream is icey and this was pure, creamy goodness. Blueberry lavender is such a special lavender pairing; seriously, earl grey lavender was so last year. It was creamy, floral and fruity at the same time. I really want a tub of it right now. I wouldn’t recommend pumpkin to anyone who doesn’t even like pumpkin but I gotta admit that oat strusel makes for fun eating, texturally. THIS HAS MUCH WOW FACTOR!!!! And if I had to pick a #1 item on this list, THIS WOULD BE IT

4. Evvia, Palo Alto
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My first experience with Greek food! Grilled octopus, the most lovely charred lamb riblets and marithes tiganites – crispy smelt with a garlic and potato skordalia. Okay food aside, doesn’t SKORDALIA REMIND YOU OF A POKEMON????? Or izzit just me?? FYI: a skordalia is a sort of thick, chunky dip. Here the skordalia made my entire meal. The lemon rly complemented the bold and punchy garlic and the crispy smelt was the perfect fish to hold it all together. Taste & texture wise, it was faultless. Ok think: fried crispy fish with the most garlicy dip in the world. YUM??? The lamb riblets were a bit gamey for me; I generally have a distaste to lamb, BUT I really wouldn’t mind having more of this; and the grilled octopus…. just….wow…. I feel like my favourite dishes at restaurants are those which are cooked simply with the freshest ingredients; while I enjoy the oohs and ahhs molecular gastronomy brings to food in general, sometimes the best kind of food is choosing the best cooking method to let your choice of ingredient shine. GIVE ME MORE OF THAT OCTOPUS

Tbh, most of my time was spent eating great food at Casa Italiana where RJ lived – I am still in awe at how catered food can taste this good. I’m quite sure freshman 15 would not be limited to just the freshmen, considering the open kitchen at Casa, and the food that Jose churns out day after day.

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HONOURABLE MENTION: Food at Casa Italiano; the monkey bread & kale mojito at CoHo

I’ve already talked about how frkn amaze Casa’s food was but honestly everyone needs to go visit Stanford just for the Monkey bread! Crisp buns of walnuts and drizzled with just the right amount of honey? caramel? when toasted make the best. snack. ever. And also, it will be one of the best $3 you spend in your life. I also miss the kale mojito, a juice blend of kale, mint, mango, celery, parsley and orange juice. I swear all green juice skeptics will change their minds on kale and green juice AFTER HAVING THIS. It is refreshing and exhilarating and makes me feel like I’m at a beach with a hot bod when I clearly am sitting at Coho with an expanding waistline instead.

OH, AND ONE LAST ONE (how could I have forgotten):
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In-N-Out: just because you’re in the West Coast. Also, it’s better than Shake Shack.

WHY MUST I DO ETHICS WHY

Sydney

TUTORIALS ARE OVER FOR THE WEEK. YES (but omg 3 next week the thought of it is just exhausting…). So I’m back to continue where I left off from Melbourne.

We went to Sydney for four days (but really had only a grand total of three days) and I kind of wish we spent more time there? Would have loved to visit Manly… and Bondi (er. Kind of forgot to go to Bondi because I was eating……. I know nobody is surprised by this.). And supposedly the Blue Mountains are gorgeous! AND I DIDN’T GET TO EAT MY WATERMELON CAKE 😦 Elaine’s food recommendations were completely spot on (thank you Elaine!!); if only I had the time and tummy space to conquer Sydney. Honestly though, while I preferred Melbourne as a city to Sydney, I think the culinary highs from the trip came from Sydney.

SYDNEY MUST-EATS:

1) Breakfast with the Sakuma’s, Devon Cafe

5452Miso grilled king salmon, 63 degree egg, smoked eel croquette, petit radish salad, kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of furikake – this is probably the most well thought out and put together dish I’ve had this year. It goes down in history as one of the most memorable dishes I’ve had & I want to fly back to Sydney just to have this. Asian fusion to me has always seemed a bit dodgy but I think this dish really took what I loved from Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite meals of the day and made it work – it is truly light on the palate but enough to wake your senses up with the umami bombs. AMA-FRKN-ZING. Whoever thought of adding furikake deserves a huge huge prize.

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I also think Devon’s rendition of Eggs Royale was spectacular!!! Instead of English muffin/bagel/rye/insert bread here, Devon uses blinis for its Eggs Blini. It didn’t look huge, but the portion was just right. The best part? The Eggs Royale was topped with ikura (salmon roe). So incredibly special. (PLUS THEY USE BROCCOLINI. I LOVE BROCCOLINI.)

I didn’t particularly enjoy my Little Lost Bread – pb&j brioche french toast, grilled banana, nutella, jam and pb icecream! I wish the banana taste were stronger because I felt like it was like separate components being slapped onto a plate, even though I have to say, the pb&j went well like… pb&j. It was like pb&j had a party and the grilled banana crashed it. Man!!! (Also, it was too sweet.)

I think Devon’s menu had other interesting things that I would have loved to try – the Korean Fried Chicken burger with gochujang & kimchi slaw sounded amazing on paper as well; except by then I had burger fatigue so, it was a no go. Their takeaway chicken salad also looked pretty yummy on display! Devon is a must go if you’re in Sydney.

2) Bourke Street Bakery

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The problem with Bourke Street Bakery is that everything looks too yummy. Um, limited stomach space here? I thought I had my eye on the chocolate tart in front of the store (and I’m not even that big a chocolate fan!!!) but once I entered and saw lemon curd and ginger creme brulee.. sorry chocolate. The lemon curd tart was my favourite, and edges ginger creme brulee out by 0.1 – purely because it is very very difficult to find lemon curd that is tart enough. I feel like lemon curd is one of those things where everyone has a different standard on – some like it sweet and others like it tart. This lemon tart is second only to Jacques Genin’s lemon tart!! And at A$5, it is such a bargain!! BUY MORE. The ginger creme brulee, however wins points for originality – cos I mean, a creme brulee tart????? LIKE WAAAOOOOOW RIGHT. I’ve never had one, and who would’ve though it would work?! Biting into a burnt sugar top is truly one of the littlest (??? little? small?) joys in life. I wish I brought back a dozen of each.

3) The Grounds of Alexandria

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The Grounds is a really genius idea. Take a huge lot in an industrial area and transform it into a grounds of sorts – a cafe on one end, and a miniature farm, a flower shop (SUPER GORGEOUS) and plenty of space for people to sit around and order take out from push carts. It really sounds like a kind of place I’d want to spend my weekends at, minus the screaming kids; but yes, it is a great place for a family to spend time together on weekends. We waited an hour for a table at the cafe – and while waiting, we…. started eating. Had a grilled corn on the cob and a green juice of kale, apple and mint to start off with! I wanted to take a picture with Kevin Bacon (the resident pig) EXCEPT I felt like the poor pig was already having its privacy invaded by the hordes of humans ): Poor pig.

I suppose the highlight of the Grounds would be its dessert table??????? The problem as always is just choosing ONE. I was torn between the passionfruit cheesecake (how unique really, PASSIONFRUIT!!!!) and the pear tart but was recommended it so I went for the pear. I mean, it was a good pear tart, but it didn’t make me go ‘!!!!!’. I had forest mushroom salad that came with a gooey egg encased in a panko batter. HOLY GUACAMOLE, THIS IS EGGYOLK PORN AT ITS FINEST!!!!!!!!! And it really did taste as good as it looked. As silly as it sounds, the house chips at the Grounds was really great – NO SOGGY FRIES AT ALL (I cannot stand soggy fries) and a beautiful chilli aioli that had a great garlic punch without being overwhelming. Since my description and vocabulary is limited: the grounds is simply Pinterest in REAL LIFE.

Honourable Mention: The Paramount Coffee Project.

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This was the first place we ate at when we touched down in Sydney. It is a gorgeous open space, with ceiling to floor windows (ALWAYS AWESOME!) and beside it is a proper mini cinema! The cafe is in front and at the back, all decked out in industrial grunge is a bicycle (and handmade goods??) store. Yep. This takes hpstr to a whole new level, except the food is anything but pretentious.

We had the crab po’boy and a cola braised pork with waffle. I preferred this to Hammer & Tong’s personally but Nick felt that there was no difference cos they were both AWESOME. This is a lot messier because there’re more sauces but I love it when a burger is messy because that is how it’s supposed to be! Don’t bother paying extra for the onion rings. The waffle meanwhile… was an acquired taste for me. It was creative and unique, but while I didn’t agree with the taste, Nick loved it. I do believe that this flavour combination is worth a try though!!

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I think I’ve been spoilt by the brunch options available in Melbourne and Sydney that brunch in Singapore will never (ok maybe not a long while) live up to anything I’ve had. I suppose with brunch being very ‘in’ and fashionable, the challenge is coming up with an excitable brunch menu. Nearly every place we went to in Melbourne and Sydney had their own flair. Though they may be serving an eggs benedict/royale/florentine, most cafes/places always have their own interpretations of these brunch classics. That really differentiates each place and gives them their individuality. & I think this is what keeps people coming back! The fact that menus change according to what is in season is also something I really respect.

I feel like I wasn’t in Sydney long enough to actually see half of it. Totally regret not going to Bondi/Manly – I mean which losers go to Sydney and then don’t visit one of the most popular attractions?!?? BUT AT LEAST WE MADE IT TO THE OPERA HOUSE AND HARBOUR BRIDGE. The greatest thing I’m taking away from my trip to Australia is probably just the niceness of Australians. PEOPLE ARE JUST SO FRKN NICE. We met the nicest airbnb hosts (Martina & Gavin!) and people on the streets were friendly and always keen to help with directions (I can’t read maps..). I really can’t wait to go back.

Till next time, super travellers!

Melbourne

Alright, it’s been more than a year, and what a difference a year makes. So what inspired this – basically ET asked me to update and today Trish asked me about Melbourne AND about Tummytay in lecture and during lunch. So why not? And also, I feel like I may never have such satisfying meals for a while since almost every meal was an epic meal in Melbourne and Sydney.

Plus it helps that I have to watch a video in preparation for mediation tomorrow. Obviously I should write a hugeass long post about food instead of preparing for it.. #priorities.

Without further ado, I present:

MUST EATS IN MELBOURNE

1) Coconut-Pandan gelato at Spring Street Grocer
And I thought I tasted the mother of all gelatos in Italy. I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. This was *magical*, the pandan and coconut were like pb & jam, yknow? THEY GO SO WELL TOGETHER. Like Britney and Justin. (They are still my OTP. Do not judge.) It was incredibly smooth, with NO ICE CRYSTALS AT ALL – don’t you hate icecream that is icy? AND IT IS SO HARD TO ACHIEVE THAT FEAT. Gelatos for the win. Who needs iceream or any other gelato flavour anyway? This gelato spoilt the market for the other gelatos I had in Melbourne, and none of the others I tried even came close to this. Not even the famous Messina.

2) Fried Brioche at The Hardware Societe

I think I loved this mainly because it was an infusion of all the flavours I enjoyed – rosewater/earl grey panna cotta/fresh raspberries – that reminded me of Pierre Herme’s famous ispahan. Prior to visiting Melbourne I had heard so much about THS (OMG SAME INITIALS AS ME?????) and I was not disappointed at all. The portions are huge, and because the flavours are quite complex, and the brioche is fried, it does get a bit heavy. But no problemo, it just means that you have to eat two dishes so as to alternate between that and the fried brioche. Which brings me to….

BAKED EGGS DEUX at THS.
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This was beautiful. I love baked eggs but I find sometimes the problem with brunch food/eggs is that I can easily replicate it at home. NOT THIS I CAN’T. three baked eggs sitting pretty in a pot full of warm tomato stew, silvered almonds and hidden spinach at the bottom. This really warmed us up on a blustery winter morning.

3) Grilled lemongrass banh mi at Ba’get

One thing I really missed about western nations: their sandwiches. Alright, banh mi is asian… but wowowow. Perhaps it was because Nick and I were RAVENOUS after trekking half of the CBD to get here (so much for me saying “it’s really nearby”. No one should ever trust my direction sense. More to come later). The baguettes were crisp and provided a REALLY satisfying crunch when we bit into em. I also enjoy pickled vegetables so this sandwich really ticked the right boxes for me. The best part: $6.95 for each banh mi. SAY WHAT???? It also stays fresh for a long time because I brought half a banh mi onto the plane home. It was still as great 6 hours later. Dammit sometimes I wish Willy Wonka’s TV were real then I’d be able to reach through my screen and grab whatever food I want and EAT IT.

4) Soft shell crab burger at Hammer & Tong 412
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Hammer & Tong’s logo is reminiscent of the CCCP for some reason (Communist Party), and that’s another reason why I like it. The soft shell crab burger has been talked about so much by the online food community (thank you urbanspoon.) that I think one of the stupidiest decisions I made in Melbourne was to share the burger with Nick. It should not be shared. Period. CRISP SOFT SHELL CRAB, PILLOWY BRIOCHE, and forgettable greens. It was also very light!!! Deepfrying a soft shell crab is not that easy ok??? Alright, maybe the Bill Murray at Lucky Chip has a greater wow factor (hellooooo wasabi mayo + secret sauce, how not to win!?) BUT THIS WAS A GREAT BURGER ON ITS OWN MERIT. Tummytay approves.

5) Original beef burger with the works at Andrew’s Hamburgers

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RLY ANNOYED BECAUSE I WAS SO FULL SO I COULDN’T FINISH MY HALF. Any burger with bacon and egg is also a winner in my books. And honestly? Andrew’s is better than The Royale Brothers whom we made the trek out to Middle Brighton to search out. Don’t know how to describe just how awesome (see, running out of adjectives) this burger is, so please just look above for the gorgeous cross section. Dammit why aren’t burgers this accessible in Singapore? WHY? (Answer: we don’t grow our own cows, that’s why.)

6) Spaghetti Scoglio & Lobster tail tagliatelle at Villa Romana Trattoria
2767No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to Lygon Street, even though food has been said to be a hit and miss, cos yknow as places become touristy, food standards just plummet ): But!!! THIS! WAS! SO! WOW! Alright, so the Scoglio was a bit dry for my liking and I felt there should have been a bit more white wine – yes yes I know the irony of this statement considering how alcohol and I are not friends – so as to create a nice vongole type sauce. But hey, I’m not the italian so.. ohwel. Other than it being a bitttt too dry (not ‘moist’ enough. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) it was A GREAT HEARTY DISH OF CARBS AND SEAFOOD IN A HUGE PAN. I would highly recommend this dish; it is pasta done simply and done well. The lobster tail tagliatelle was also for two, but there was a creamy sauce instead, just right to coat the pasta without it being too cloying. We loved it. Maybe a bit more than the Scoglio… but just a tiny bit.

7) HONOURABLE MENTION: Vegie Bar (no pictures though. OOPS.)
Vegie Bar is the kind of place I think Adele and I would frequent if we lived in Melbourne. It is completely vegetarian but in Singapore there tends to be this stereotype that vegetarian food = tasteless rabbit food and that there is a sense of being ripped off paying the same price for a dish that has no meat. I regret not taking pictures of the wonderful place but its menu is quirky and innovative, and EVERYTHING SOUNDED YUMMY – baked mushroom with quinoa!! vermicelli and soba salads, omg. The serving plates were also bigger than my face. Though the interior was dark, and lighting was a bit sleep inducing, I enjoyed the bar concept of it (neon lights! YAY!) and how they have managed to make vegetarian food cool.

8) ONE OF A KIND LOCATION: MART 130


So there was this day we were supposed to meet Ray at this lovely brunch spot in the middle of nowhere (HPSTR ALERT!), called Mart 130. Mart because it’s tram spelled backwards and it is literally right at the tram stop. Like when we stepped off the tram, crossed the tram tracks – I LOVE CROSSING TRAM TRACKS. “You are waiting for a train…” (DOES ANYONE GET THIS REFERENCE) – and there it stands, on the other side of the platform. Alright, silly me didn’t think to capture a picture of it on a digital medium – I have it in film. I think everyone should pay this a visit, I have never seen anything like it before. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and take the tram in the wrong direction (THE TRAM IS NOT TOWARDS EAST BRUNSWICK.) only to realise that we’ve gone in the wrong direction at the tram’s second last stop. #winner

9) COFFEE!

3730Another thing I really enjoyed about Melbourne was the availability of great coffee. I love how serious the coffee culture is and as much as I try to pretend I’m into the whole thing, I only describe coffee as whether it is ‘gao’ enough. The best part is waking up at 10ish everyday and making a pilgrimage to a new coffee spot while Nick sleeps in (what a pig.). I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with sitting at a coffee joint alone with my coffee and kindle. It is quite a thing to be in a city but yet be able to stay grounded and not lose yourself in it. I love it. My favourite coffee spot was a little bird told me… possibly because it was the nearest to us (ha!!) but also of it’s non-cramped space and open interiors. Brother Baba Budan‘s interior decor was incredibly quirky – a ceiling full of chairs!! but it was a bit dark for and cramped for my liking. Maybe now Singaporean hipsters will be inspired to adorn their cafes with chairs instead of just BICYCLES. Bicycles are so 2012.

Next up: Sydney!!!

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