IL Localino, Hobart Drive Sandton, Johannesburg

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Offering varieties of starter size portion dishes and bite sized desserts and tapas, this new little Italian joint in the neighborhood is perfect for greedy gourmands who dream of ordering everything off a menu. IL Localino’s pastas were especially delightful and it is highly recommended to try two or more pastas in their starter portions. Trust me, one portion won’t be enough…for everyone! Only exceptions would be those with extra small appetites or those who hoarded on their delicious appetizers. I tried their homemade egg-based Tagliatelle al Ragu (the above picture is my individual plate. I was too late to take a picture of the actual pasta dish) and I was smitten by the texture of their Tagliatelle.

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The grilled pork chops with sage butter was perfectly seasoned, likewise the fish main we had. The subtle yet complex taste combinations of each dish were a gracious surprise for us as we were getting used to a little too bold, over-seasoned food served at other cafe and diners around town.

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After devouring our main dishes, something rare happened. We had some spaces in our stomaches for a dessert! This was a revelation for us since we were never able to squeeze a bite of dessert after eating mega-sized main courses in other restaurants. We took the full advantage of this and ordered three ‘regular’ portioned desserts.

The ‘Tiramisu with a Twist’ was a South African rendition of a mascarpone with lady-finger with a local twist of Amarula liquior and hot chocolate, resulting in an exceptionally fluffy tiramisu. The other two were the banana and chocolate filled beignats and mini-fruit tarts.

IL Localino definitely answered the much needed niche in the Bryanston neighborhood with affordable yet flavorful dishes with a special twist, comfortable casual setting, a breezy terrace dining, and a cheerful staff. A great new comer!

IL Localino
Hobart Grove Centre
Corner of Hobart & Grosvenor Roads
Bryanston, Sandton

Chee Cheong Fun @ New World Park Food Center, Penang, Malaysia

20140311-151638.jpg The Chee Cheong Fun in Penang seem to have two distinct characters – very sweet ‘sweet black sauce’ and moist texture. Indeed the sauce was too sweet for Mr.Samurai and me. We felt like we were eating a dessert. The delicious chili was not enough to balance the sweetness. But the best part about this CCF was definitely the moist ‘skin’. Served open style, the individual roll had an amazing texture like it’s sister in HK, cheong fun. The skin was so silky that we wish we could have only the skins and pair them with more savory sauces served in Singapore.

It is understandable that the Penang locals call this a softer cousin on Char Kway Teow, Penang’s most popular and admittedly  the best dish we had there. These relatives share an essential component – the moist, soft skin. It is no surprise that one of our memorable meal was eaten at a local dim sum restaurant.

 

A Story of A Chinese Nasi Lemak

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There is something so comforting about a plate of Chinese Nasi Lemak. A medley of toppings – a fried chicken wings, ngo hiang, fish balls, fried egg with a gooey yolk, fish cakes, sautéed veggies – piled up on a fragrant bed of steaming coconut rice, highlighted with an addictive smear of sambal all on a plastic orange hawker plate. Not forgetting the generous flakes of fried peanuts and ikan bilis. Messier it looks, the better.

The best things I love about Nasi Lemak is the fragrance of coconut rice, crunchiness of ikan bilis, and sweet sambal that harmonize all the components. My big love goes to this stalls sambal! I want to steal a bucket full and eat it with a toast or rice every single day. The best sambal ever. Challenge me if you can.

20140311-161432.jpgThis specific plate was a treat from my boyfriend’s aunt who has run a stall for more than thirty years at a popular food court at Tuas, the edge of Singapore. Probably the only coffee shop in the 5km radius, the place was bustling with hungry workers from the nearby construction sites and factories. Although a day late for the International Women’s Day, I wanted to dedicate this post for this hardworking woman, Aunt Anna, the owner of this stall. As a single mother, she has worked from 5am to 2pm every single day without a break for many, many years. The number of regulars who drop by not only for her delicious food but to see her speak of her accomplishments. She even donates the leftovers to the migrant workers working nearby her house everyday. While this short post fails to cover all the amazing things she has done for the others, at least I want people to know that there are many women like her out there who need an honorable mention.

Reasons why I didn’t blog for a while…

1. I moved to Japan in May and this blog filled a lot of memories in Singapore made me homesick. Quite badly.

2. Someone who was really bored hacked into my account (and I got lazy handling it).

3. Started cooking a lot more and eating out less especially in Japan.

4. I got lazy taking and uploading photos. (No energy to take photos when I am hungry).

Things that haven’t changed about me:

1. I still love food as my instagram proves.

2. I missed writing about food.

3. I still love exploring new food in different places I visit. Even more with Mr.Samurai.

So I decided to keep this blog going (on a lazy pace). I might talk more about wine because I am taking wine courses now! Anyways, the blog will still focus on food but the format may become more..freestyle.

Just saying.

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This is just too cute to be sexual

Love, Aruquita@THR

Level 33 @ Marina Financial Center Tower 1, Singapore

 

Traveling against the mad crowd flow at rush hour on Monday night, we travelled into the CBD to taste house-brewed beer of the world’s highest urban craft-brewery, Level 33.  Despite the late hour visit at 10 pm on a weekday night, (it was our third bar of the night), we saw full house upon arrival. The drinking flock was dominantly white-collared with their ties loosened and interestingly many were Japanese. We loved the supreme golden brew of 33.2 Pale Ale out of three craft beers we tasted.  Nice aroma, balanced hoppy and mild taste got us wanting for more and more. The crowd pleaser, Blonde Ale, was too fruity and light for us but it is a perfect easily drinkable beer for ladies and not-so-beer-fans.

We were delighted to find decent quality food here to accompany the craft beers. All of the plates were rather highly priced from $20-50. I recommend you get few plates of appetizers to nibble with your beer.

IMG_4126Our favorite was ‘Pigs and Tails’ which was a minced pork croquettas and butter grilled escargots served on a bed of mashed potatoes, poached garlic, pesto sauce, and grilled tomatoes. Gather all the flavors with your folk, pop them in your mouth and taste it, hopefully not wash it down, and quench your thirst with their great craft beer.
IMG_4130We were not so impressed with the overcooked scallop appetizer but we liked well grilled soft Poisson served with creamed cous-cous like pasta paired with grilled tomato and mustard. Interesting yet bold flavors of their contemporary barbarian dishes were nice change from the usual German beer sausage and British pub fish and chips affair. Highly recommended for dates (Ask waitress in advance for the outside seats after meal. Amazing night view).

Level 33
Tel: +65 6834 3133
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1

 

DC Bistro Boutique @ Hanoi, Vietnam

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The mouth-watering rustic French fair at DC Bistro almost always appears when I reminiscently dream of my life in Hanoi. Being the budget sister restaurant of the infamous Le Verticale in the old quarter of Hanoi, the table setting and service is minimalist. They fortunately do not go cheap on creating a French bistro ambiance. While I usually dine on the first floor, step up the steep stairs of colonial shop house and dine at one of their themed rooms furnished with wine colored sofas and dark wooden stools. Once seated, the server will explain you the course menu scribbled on an old school blackboard.

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These are pictures from one of the uncountable times we went for a dinner. Only 235,000 VHD for a 3 course dinner. Seems magical and unbelievable reflecting back. Their lunch is even cheaper. If I remember correctly, it was around 134k.

IMG_0443FIrst of all, their crusty fresh-out-of-oven baguette and fragrant butter are out of the world but I warn you to stop at one. Once we finished two baskets before our appetizers arrived. I don’t understand why many restaurants in Singapore can’t serve this simple flour goodness.

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For an appetizer, I truly recommend their tomato gazpacho with poached farm egg. Divine soup that just wakes up all my dining senses or even all five senses up. Not too tangy and perfectly mild. Go ahead and mop your bowl clean with more baguette.

IMG_0452 IMG_0451 IMG_0450As for the main, there are hits and misses. The sardine grill on the top was obviously a big miss for being too homely and simple. The sardines were not seasoned well and too boney. Sardines, written in capital letters on the blackboard menu was ironically their specialty of the night. It is better to stick with their signature Duck Confit Casserole and Seafood Gratin. Both are well executed but quantity can be excessive for some and could bore your tastebud a little towards the end. Have some cheap glasses of wine then you won’t leave a piece of pasta.

IMG_0448Not to forget their steak frites. Big juicy piece of beef is tender and grilled to a perfection so you can still taste the meatiness of rare flesh. No need to dip your steak into their homemade sauce. Enjoy it plain, enjoy the texture por favor. Insanely value for money, again you must now understand why I miss eating French food in Hanoi.

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Desserts, especially their chocolatey desserts are not to be missed. While their orange, liquor infused crepes and chocolate tart will help you step up the stairways to dessert-heaven easily, true gluttons must choose gluttony coffee which comes with two selected mini desserts of the day and French pressed coffee. The chocolate mousse was so divine that it probably numbed my brain cells into chocolate bitter-sweet death (lol). The rice pudding adored with honey sauce (?) was also great, but chocolate mousse left me the most impression.

While the service could be flimsy and menu availability vary, DC Bistro is the most wallet friendly authentic French diner in Hanoi. Imagine buying yourself a 3 course lunch of divinity with just SGD$8. Fly me to Hanoi food paradise, I beg you!

DC Bistro Boutique Hanoi
Their old location is now under renovation but they are supposed to reopen soon!

http://verticale-hanoi.com/dc-bistro-boutique.html

Extra Virgin Pizza @ Asia Square Tower, Singapore

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PISTACHIO 24 – pistachio pesto, mozzarella, baby arugula,
lemon vinaigrette, parmigiano reggiano

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CAULIFLOWER ROMESCO 12 – almond capsicum sauce, fontina,
cracked black pepper

Extra Virgin Pizza is a small pizza alfresco pizza joint that promises its pizza of “fresh imported ingredients”, “discernible freshness” and “charred crust”…etc. I get skeptical when eateries go overboard but I concur that their pistachio pizza was exactly how they boasted it to be. The pizza crust is doughy and chewy and the lemon vinaigrette balanced the slight oiliness of pistachio pesto quite well. One whole pizza is big enough for two people.My girlfriend and I demolished the whole thing and one side. I got a little too full from having three slices though. These rather thin crust pizzas were so easy to eat but may had been too much to handle. Our side, Cauliflower romesco was a cheesy messy paradise of fontina and sweet and mild almond capsicum sauce. We got addicted to it. Mopped everything up with some pizza dough. The cracked black pepper added some spiciness but I recommend you ask for chili oil and a bit more salt if you want a salty company for beer. They have one-for-one Italian beer happy hour until 8pm on weekdays.

Extra Virgin Pizza
08  Marine View, #01-04 Asia One Square