Eating in Singapore, December 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this entry.

Most travellers who have visited Singapore will cringe when I say this, but one of Dad’s favourite places to eat during our stay was the Food Opera food centre in the ION Orchard mall. I know, it’s not a legitimate hawker centre and you won’t walk out smelling like satay or prawn mee. But importantly, you do walk out feeling cool and refreshed after enjoying a meal in air-conditioned comfort, and that feeling is worth a million dollars in the overwhelming heat and humidity of Singapore.

We visited Food Opera a number of times during our visit, and never ate the same thing once. From chicken rice to bak kuh teh, yong tau foo to beef noodles, there’s enough variety at Food Opera to ensure that you can try something new with every meal. And while prices are slightly higher than what you would find in most outdoor hawker centres, you get your money’s worth in hygiene and comfort. The food isn’t bad either, and consistently reminded Dad of the kind of food he used to eat in the sixties in Hong Kong – truly traditional Cantonese cooking, without fancy modern embellishments. 

We did eat in outdoor hawker centres of course. We had Satay by the Bay after a stroll through the Gardens by the Bay, and cooled off with 2-for-1 weekday cendol from the same hawker centre. We made our way to Little India where we had murtabak and biryani. Kaya toast and roti breakfasts at random kopitiams along the road were not uncommon. 

The Chinatown markets were a hit as well, where we tried popiah, kueh pie tee, and what was literally THE freshest and most delicious wife cake I’ve ever had in my whole life- and I’ve eaten my fair share of wife cake! Shout out to Mini Toast House in Chinatown Markets (Shop #02-105) for their awesome wife cake. The other highlight of Chinatown was of course, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant. The meals themselves may be simple, but the execution is brilliant – well worth a visit.

We’re lucky enough to also have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends in Singapore…expats / locals who can take us to fantastic places for dinner like No Signboard Seafood for amazing Singaporean chilli crab, salted egg yolk prawns, and chilli and garlic pippies, before finishing off the meal with some durian from a roadside stall. Or who can take us for delicious steamed buns (bao in Chinese, or strangely, pao in Singaporean) at Tiong Bahru markets before finishing off with matcha and almond croissants from the fancy pants hipster Tiong Bahru bakery.

In the few days we had in Singapore, I can honestly say that we never once had a bad meal. We didn’t plan ahead and book for fancy places, we really just stumbled across places and ate where we saw locals congregating. Our main goal was to always try something new at each meal, so that we could introduce my dad and brother to new dishes and flavours – and I think we succeeded in that as my dad absolutely loved Singapore’s food (though not the humidity!).

Singapore really is a foodie’s paradise, and I just know that the next time we go back, we’ll have just as good a time as we did this time. 

Launch of Bruce Leaves, Bondi Beach

K and I recently visited the newly opened Bruce Leaves in Bondi Beach, an outpost of the original branch in Alexandria. It makes a lot of sense that they’ve opened in this area as its very concept seems to fit the whole Bondi vibe – healthy salads and rolls with a multicultural twist, designed to appeal to the healthy and fit beach-loving residents of Bondi.


Their launch night was very laid back, with some classic 90s tunes pumping through the speaker system, and staff working on pumping out bite-sized salad and banh mi servings behind the counter. Bloggers, locals, and friends of owners alike mingled through the store and flowed out onto the footpath and little courtyard in front of the store, sipping drinks and laughing and chatting into the night.


Alcoholic versions of their smoothies were circling for all guests – some with a shot of toffee vodka which K just absolutely loved. As I’m still choosing not to drink, the staff generously offered to make a normal smoothie specifically for me. I ummed and ahhed over the different options as they all looked fantastic. The juices looked fantastic as well!


I ended up choosing a coconut banana smoothie, which comes with scooped coconut flesh and juice, banana and soaked chia seeds. It was wonderfully refreshing, and startlingly filling as well. The chia seeds gave the smoothie an interesting texture as well. K just had a Becks beer – not on the usual menu I think, but it was available for the launch party!


Different varieties of miniature banh mi were on the menu at the party, and the staff walked around with rows of them on boards for partygoers to help themselves.


The Chicken Banh Mi was a study in delicious contrasts – tender chicken pieces in a crusty bread roll. Fresh coriander and carrots with a savoury spread and sauce. Exceedingly more-ish in its interpretation of a Vietnamese classic.


I liked the vegetarian Haloumi Banh Mi – it could have done with a bit more haloumi, but what was there was chargrilled to smokey goodness, and was set off particularly well with the fried shallots.


K and I also tasted a satay beef salad – beautifully chargrilled cubes of tender beef served with a peanutty satay sauce with little chunks of pineapple, lettuce and other fresh vegetables. It’s very Malaysian in its style, continuing Bruce Leaves modern interpretations of Asian classics.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to try any other of the salads that Bruce Leaves has on its menu as they proved to be very popular with the other guests who snapped them up before we could try them. All the more reason to return and try them on a proper visit!

Note: Gourmanda visited the launch of Bruce Leaves Bondi as a guest of Seriously Social. All photos and words are her own.

Review: Main Ridge Dairy and Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Mornington Peninsula

Though I’ve now been living in Sydney for over three years, the truth of the matter is that my best girl friends are my high school friends, and they still live in Melbourne. I don’t regret moving cities – I enjoy the job that I moved for, the relationship that developed, and the lifestyle that I live here. But I still know that one day, I’ll move back to Melbourne for good.

When it came time to start considering a hens party for my upcoming wedding, I knew that I wanted two things – 1) a low-key relaxing celebration without strippers or penis straws and 2) for it be in Melbourne. With that in mind, I chose to have a quiet weekend on the Mornington Peninsula with a handful of my closest high school girlfriends. Walks on the beach, cooking at home, going to a few attractions, playing board games, having wines and dips and cheeses…it was all about the relaxing pampering.


One of the few places that we visited on the weekend was Main Ridge Dairy. It’s a goat farm and cheese factory located in Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula, in an area teeming with wineries and other working farms.


When you enter the modern building, the first thing you see is a big refrigerated cabinet displaying all the various goats cheeses made on site. Mmm, cheese…


Tucked away in a corner are a few shelves of goods that you can buy. From cheese platters and cheese knives, to little knitted goat toys and local jams and produce, it’s a cute area to poke around in while you decide what to order. I was sorely tempted to buy some cute locally made crockery, but then realised I would have difficulties bringing it back to Sydney in my hand luggage so sadly put it back on the shelf.

Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)
Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)

Amongst the few of us, we ordered a variety of hot drinks – and one brave friend just ordered a glass of goat milk which I tried and found incredibly strong-tasting. “It tastes like barbecued lamb chops!” I declared, and a few others agreed with me. I much preferred my fancy hot chocolate from the Grounded Pleasures range, which was amazingly thick, full and creamy.

The Full Goat Platter, $50
The Full Goat Platter, $50

We ordered the Full Goat Platter to share. Recommended for 2-8 people, we definitely struggled to finish it with five people, so I don’t see how two people could finish it! My pick of the bunch is probably the chevre and caprincilla for sheer more-ishness that wasn’t too strong in flavour. I also liked the yoghurt-like cashmere which came with some berry coulis – I could definitely see myself having more of that!


We sat around for a few hours eating the platter and watching the cute little baby goats run around their paddock and climb all over each other, playing “King of the Mountain”. I could quite happily have spent the whole afternoon there simply watching the kids and eating goat’s cheese. In fact, I think I’ll take my dad to Main Ridge Dairy next time I’m in Melbourne.

Main Ridge Dairy on Urbanspoon

Our next visit was to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, just down the road from Main Ridge Dairy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite strawberry-picking season when we were there (we were about a month early!), but there was still plenty to see, do and eat!


A few of the girls tried the liquor tasting available in one corner of Sunny Ridge’s shop. I abstained as I’ve been a teetotaler since February, but the reports were definitely favourable! One friend walked away with a few bottles of the strawberry port and the cherry port which she said was surprisingly not as sickly sweet as anticipated.


There was plenty of local produce to go through as well, with one of my favourite displays being this endless shelf of mini-jams made from the fruits of Sunny Ridge’s own fields.

Despite all the other attractions available, the highlight of Sunny Ridge is their dessert cafe which takes advantage of the fresh berries and fruits that they produce, as well as the other locally-sourced gourmet products. Given that we had only eaten goats cheese for lunch that day, we decided to order a dessert each…what a hardship!

Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50
Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50

My choice of the strawberry coconut rough (a daily special) was an amazing mix of fresh locally made coconut ice-cream, fresh strawberries, and crunchy chocolate-coated meringues. It was a remarkable treat, and the surprising thing is that it didn’t even feel that bad for me, as the fruit and ice-cream was so fresh and light.

Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)
Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)

One friend ordered the strawberry rocky road, which came with a few scoops of different ice-creams, as well as white chocolate coated freeze-dried strawberries – a house specialty.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10

The panna cotta was a popular choice as well, with a creamy and smooth texture and subtle vanilla bean flavour that went well with the strong berry coulis and fresh berries.

Strawberry pancake (daily special)
Strawberry pancake (daily special)

The pancake was a bit more disappointing and more geared towards the children visiting the cafe. The sprinkled hundreds and thousands didn’t add much to the dish!

Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50
Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50

A much healthier friend chose a yoghurt and berry parfait as she’s not much of a fan of sweets…and in fact, she doesn’t even eat chocolate! (Crazy, I know!) This is a great lighter choice if you happen to visit earlier in the day and aren’t quite ready for something sweet.

While our experience at Sunny Ridge wasn’t quite as good as our visit to Main Ridge Dairy (the service isn’t as good, and it’s a little older), I imagine that I’ll probably be back – next time in strawberry picking season!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on Urbanspoon