Nam Nam Noodle Bar: Vietnamese Street Favs

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The great debate over one weekend: What’s for lunch? The A-Ha! moment came, when I recalled reading about the Les Amis Group’s latest addition to the Singapore dining scene, in the form of Nam Nam Noodle Bar which serves iconic street favourites from Vietnam. It has been years since I’ve had pho (the Vietnamese dining scene in Tokyo was pretty much non-existent sadly), and I’ve enjoyed eating at the other outlets opened by the Les Amis folks (Bistro Du Vin, Au Jardin, Canele)… so off to Nam Nam to put that Vietnamese craving to rest yay!

Crowd

There was still a late lunch crowd going strong at the Nam Nam branch at Wheelock Place, but open seats came by pretty quickly. Amidst the maze of communal long tables and stools, there’s a section facing the open kitchen, where diners can peek into the making of Hanoi pho, Banh Mi, Vietnamese noodles from the South and Central and lots of other tasty street food yum yummmm.

They’ve a pretty weird order system at Nam Nam, whereby you place your orders on the paper menu, leave your table with the order sheet, and head to the counter to place and pay for your orders. Paying for my orders took quite awhile as there was only one payment counter (minutes stretch into hours when you are HANGRY grr). They should stick to getting their waiters to place the orders and bring the cheque to the table – way faster and more efficient.

Sauces

Rows of sauces were laid upon each table, and the array was mind-boggling. Everything from fish sauce to chili sauce to Maggi seasoning was there for your taking…and if you’ve a sweet tooth, help yourself to some condensed milk :)

Spring rolls

Fresh Southern rolls ($4.90): These spring rolls wrapped around sweet shrimps, egg and fresh herbs arrived clumped together, and one of the rolls’ skin had broken even before being touched. An even bigger letdown was the taste – everything from the shrimps to the herbs were far from fresh, and tasted as though they had been sitting in containers for the last few hours (which was probably the case). The dipping sauce tasted like so-so sweet peanut sauce, which you could get off any supermarket shelf.

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Pho beef steak slices ($8.90): I was hoping for a big, hearty bowl of pho to salvage the disaster that was the Spring Rolls. The bowl of pho smelled really promising when it arrived, and the first sip of the broth tasted decent with hints of cloves and star anise. Noodles were however clumped tightly together, and no helpings of bean sprouts or fresh herbs were found. Definitely not similar to real deal pho you’d get off the streets in Vietnam!

Verdict: Nam Nam fared pretty disappointingly on the delicious and authentic scale for Vietnamese food, at rather steep prices too. Was  surprised to say the least, given the consistently good dining experience I’ve had at the other Les Amis Group outlets. Maybe I’ll check them out again just to see if their Banh Mi is any good, and hopefully it trumps the mediocre initial experience I had.

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Nam Nam Noodle Bar

Raffles City Shopping Centre (nearest MRT stop: City Hall. Look for exit towards Raffles City Shopping Centre)
252 North Bridge Road,
#B1-46/47,
Raffles City Shopping Centre

Wheelock Place (nearest MRT stop: Orchard. Look for exit towards Wheelock Place)
501 Orchard Road #B2-02,
Wheelock Place, Singapore 238880

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Les Bouchons: Steak frites magnifque

Steak

Salad

When the tagline on its menu board reads “Roi du steak frites” (king of steak and fries), you know Les Bouchons has got some pretty serious steak chops :) They’ve gotten me so hooked that Les Bouchons immediately comes to mind when I’m in Singapore and a steak craving comes up.

This super cozy French bistro has a very short and simple menu (big plus as I get pretty overwhelmed when I’ve to scroll through a bazillion options). Steak frites is the highlight, and they also provide seafood and lamb options for non moo moo eaters. To go with the mains, they’ve got a pretty awesome range of Frenchy starters, ranging from bone marrow (sinfully delicious!) to buttery, garlic infused tender escargots.

I usually zoom in on the steak frites option (rib-eye trumps tenderloin IMHO), which comes with a generous garden salad strongly flavoured with mustard and pepper yummmm. The steak comes beautifully sizzled with a generous slab of garlic butter sitting atop, waiting to be generously slathered over the meat AND fries…

What’s awesome about Les Bouchons is the various mustards and sauces they provide to go with the steak. I usually spread a heapful of thick French mustard on top of the steak, and the combination of mustard + warm garlic butter + juicy tender meat is incredible!

Another big bonus is the free flow of their thick, hand-cut fries which are fried to golden perfection. I usually let it sit for awhile so that it gets infused with all the deliciousness from the garlic butter and meat juices #godIlovefries

The steak frites portions here are hearty and generous (I struggle to finish my portion every time, and I’ve a separate tummy for steak!) and very reasonably priced at less than SGD 50.

This French bistro doesn’t sit many, so always best to make a reservation in advance. They’ve two branches – one at Ann Siang, another one at Robertson Quay. My favourite is the Ann Siang branch, which somehow manages to add a little more French deliciousness to the whole fare :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? Ann Siang branch map here (~10 mins walk from Tanjung Pagar MRT station)

Les Bouchons
7 Ann Siang Rd,
Singapore 069689

East Ocean: Dim sum treasures

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Tokyo’s an amazing food paradise, but good dim sum places are a little hard to come by (Le Parc in Ebisu is pretty ok, but lacks a little of that oomph). However, at the current base in Singapore, dim sum joints are plentiful and I said yes yes yes!!! to Molly’s suggestion to dim sum at East Ocean along the  Orchard belt this weekend!

The queue at East Ocean gets pretty insane on weekends, and even those with a reservation have to wait a good amount of time for their table upon arrival! Service is horrendous here (worse than the usual mediocre service you get in Singapore restaurants), and we literally had to grab hold of someone to hand over our order sheet :(

But all was forgiven, when these bundle of steaming hot dim sum joys started to fill up the table!

Cha siu sou

Char siu sou (bbq pork pastry): The buttery pastry was baked to a crisp, golden perfection. However, the bbq pork flavours were a little too subtle and ended up being overwhelmed by the rich pastry…

Egg tart

Dan tat (egg tarts): Darn these tarts were freakin’ legit. Each bite of the golden layers of flaky pastry was complemented by not-too sweet egg custard done to wobbly perfection.

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Ham sui kok (fried crescent dumplings): So the party trick at East Ocean – their creative spin on dumplings in the shape of cute animals! The ham sui kok we ordered came in the shape of elephants, with bean sprouts for tusks and an almond sliver poking out of its mouth :) It wasn’t love at first bite however, as the dumpling’s skin was too thick and gooey and the meat filling was meh…

Lao sha bao

Lau sha bao (salted custard buns): I judge how good a lau sha bao is, depending on how the salted custard filling oozes out when the bun is bitten into..and this lau sha bao passed the test beautifully! Golden rivers of savoury custard flowed silkily out of the fluffy bun, and it was totes delicious!

Siu mai

Siu mai (pork dumplings): The siu mai was fresh, and chunks of succulent prawns were mixed into this for added juicy sweetness

Steamed radish cake

Steamed radish cake: THIS was my personal favourite! The radish cake was steamed to delicate firmness, and the strips of radish within provided a nice light crunch with each mouthful of the sweet soy sauce and chopped spring onions mmm-mmm

Yam spring rolls

Yam spring rolls: Nice crunchy addition (not too greasy) to the spread with julienned veggies and yam tucked into it.

Zha liang

Zhar leong (dough fritters wrapped in rice paper): Super stoked to see this on the menu, as not many dim sum joints serve this! This was unfortunately so-so, as the dough fritters weren’t quite crisp and left a slightly greasy aftertaste, and the rice paper wrap was a tad too thick *sadness*

Bumblebee

Bumble bee custard dumpling: Part 2 of the animal series we ordered!. This bumble bee came with strips of seaweed for stripes, almond slivers for wings, and radish bits for eyes :) The custard was a little clumpy and gooey, but ok as a sweet ending palate cleanser.

We were pretty stuffed from this dim sum feast (this was all I had for the entire day, and I’m still full!) and paid a pretty reasonable SGD 27 per person for the meal. Prices start from ~$5 for a basket of dumplings, and gets steeper for fancier morsels like dumplings in superior soup.

Next time I swing by here, I’m going to check out their Teochew dishes (cold crabs, supreme combination platter a.k.a. “Poon Choy” anybody??). Judging by the sights and smells from nearby tables devouring their dishes, they look real promising!

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? 5th Floor of Takashimaya department store along Orchard Road

East Ocean Teochew Restaurant
391 Orchard Road
#05-08/09 Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238872

Golden Spoon: Spoonfuls of crabby delish

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After checking off Chili Crabs from must-eat list while in Singapore, we trooped to Kirsten and Jon’s regular haunt Golden Spoon in Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s hipster enclave, for more crabby yum fun times. What got us super stoked about Golden Spoon is that one of their specialties is none other than Crab bihun (vermicelli)! Never tried it, but the thought of succulent crabs tossed with noodles in a rich seafood broth got us all excited uhh huhhhh!

What we found out upon arrival: there was a recent change of owners, and the original guys have moved to East Coast. The place still served most of the original dishes, albeit in a more formal Chinese dinner style environment. We were on a crab roll, and ended up getting crab bihun, black pepper crab and ginger scallion crabs (THERE CAN NEVER BE TOO MUCH CRAB!). Coffee spare ribs, homemade tofu and sambal kangkung also made the rounds to feed 7 hangry people.

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Black pepper Sri Lankan crabs which provided a fiery kick

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Ginger scallion Sri Lankan crabs which were piled in a complex delicious mess of claws, shells, ginger and scallions

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Semi spicy sambal kangkung

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Sticky tender coffee-coated ribs topped with crunchy sesame seeds

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Homemade tofu in sweet and sour tangy sauce, topped with crunchy cucumber strips and pork floss!

Give us all the crabby delights now!

Oh hello crab babies!

We had an awesome time cracking every single crab shell open to reveal firm chunks of succulent crab meat bathed in the most delicious of sauces. My personal favourite was the crab bihun (surprise surprise :)) – not just cause of the luscious bites of Sri Lankan crab meat, but also the coarse vermicelli which soaked up the rich seafood broth so nicely. Each spoonful of bihun in broth topped with scallions and scallops was simply amazinggggg, and I had ehm 4 bowls because this was just how deliciously addictive it was!

The bill came up to ~$70 per person, which was pretty reasonable given the generous portions of crab we devoured (and we had 3 desserts on the house thrown in – sago cream, herbal jelly, glutinous rice with ice cream yayyyy). Was told that one of their house desserts worth a try is mantou (steamed buns) drizzled with thick swirls of condensed milk….will need to save room for that next time up!

Can’t wait to check out the original owners’ new joint in East Coast for another round of comfort crab and homestyle dishes. Apparently they do a better version of crab bihun!!! Guess heaven IS a place on Earth…or maybe along East Coast Road :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? Map here (It’s ~10min walk from the Tiong Bahru MRT station)

De Classic Golden Spoon
62 Seng Poh Lane,
Singapore 160062

Jaan: Très superb

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When I first moved to Singapore years ago, Jaan (under the helm of then rockstar chef Andre Chiang) was one of THE places foodies needed to pay their respects at. But thanks to my procrastination, chef Andre packed his bags to set up his own shop before I could step foot into the holy food shrine that is Jaan *CRIES*. All is not lost however, as fellow piglet Sonsons was in town recently and we decided to give Jaan a little piglets visit after reading all the rave reviews of the revamped Jaan under current chef Julien Royer.

Upon arrival at The Swissotel hotel, we were whisked to the 70F where Jaan discreetly sits and proceeded to have one of the most epic lunches. Ever. Definitely comparable to our numero uno Narisawa in Tokyo, but with chotto less creative flourishes…

We decided on their 3-course menu, instead of the 5-course which beckoned oh so temptingly…Thank god we did, because loooookie what awesome amuse bouches came to say Hi!

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Pissaladiere, goats cheese, Spanish anchovy – tasted like fluffy choux pastry stuffed with cheese and anchovy mmmm

Hummus

“Saint-Flour” lentils hummus and cereal crackers – the homemade hummus came with a twist of ground chestnuts, which lent a sweet blend to the spread

Soup

Wild mushroom tea, Cep Sabayon, Lovage, Walnuts – essentially a rich buttery foam with sprinkles of crunchy walnuts… WANT MOAR!

Not forgetting the other 2 delicious bites (pic right at the top): Smoked unagi, konbu, finger lime AND Pastilla, chicken and coriander. Such delicious food foreplay… and it’s the gift which keeps on giving because next up came a delicious bread basket filled with choices of baguettes, walnut rolls, truffle rolls…WANT. EVERYTHING (and took everything…)

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Jaan’s Garden: I opted for this starter as penance for my meat fest last weekend in Bali. This rainbow vegetable compilation came with a handful of wild herbs, nut bits and spices. The vegetables were delectably sweet and crunchy, but the dollop of yoghurt-y dressing was a tad too heavy and the milky taste didn’t quite sit nicely with the rest of the Garden…

Eggs

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55′ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg: Sonsons’ starter. The smoked rattes potatoes and chorizo iberico arrived in a glass swirling with puffs of smoke. After we were done ooh-ing and aah-ing and taking a gazillion pics, the nice waitress proceeded to crack the rosemary smoked organic eggs into this, so that you get mouthfuls of runny golden wobbliness mixed with buttery mash and savoury ham bits with each bite…

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We both picked the buffalo ricotta ravioli for our mains. The violet artichokes, iberico ham and chives melded lusciously together with the ricotta cheese to give a burst of velvety deliciousness with each morsel mmmm…

Brie is hard to resist. Brie with truffle centre? No is not an answer!

Brie is hard to resist. Brie with truffle centre? No is not an option!

Jaan, you make us totes happy!

Jaan, you make the piglets totes happy!

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Mara Des Bois Strawberry – chilled rhubarb soup with strawberry, marshmellows and basil sorbet. Perfect palate cleanser after a delish meal

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Light lemon curd with cherry, verbena, elderflower bits and ice kwimmmm

Just when we thought it was time to bid adieu to Jaan, delicious petit fours (compliments of the house) swung by in the form of crackling sorbet pops, yuzu marshmellows, cookies and luscious cream-filled chocolate-pops! *Piglets do a victory wiggle*

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Our lunch menu which they graciously printed for us..service par excellence indeed!

Our lunch menu which they graciously printed for us..service par excellence indeed!

Pretty breathtaking view of the marina from Jaan

Pretty breathtaking view of Singapore from Jaan’s windows

For $68 ++ , this scrumptious 3-course meal (which includes deliciously decadent amuse bouches and petit fours) is a pretty good deal considering how ludicrous fine dining prices can get in Singapore. The ambience is quiet and intimate without being intimidating (there were only 4-5 tables when we were there, and felt like we had very own private room by the window!), and service is gracious and friendly. We waddled out with Jaan food babies, stuffed and extremely satisfied..before digging into a chili crab dinner mere hours later hehehe

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? Map here

Jaan Restaurant
Swissotel The Stamford Singapore,
Stamford Road,
Singapore 178882