Hype or hit: New food and drinks that got us talking in May

KFC's Pockett Bandito, gluten-free frozen yogurt, a pi pa gao cocktail, and more food and drinks that caught our attention this month. 

25 Degrees’ The Lamburger ($16)
25 Degrees’ The Lamburger ($16)
28 May 2018

25 Degrees’ The Lamburger ($16)

Address: Hotel G Singapore, 200 Middle Rd, Singapore 188980

Earlier this month, American burger joint 25 Degrees introduced a Mediterranean-styled Lamburger featuring the classic pairing of lamb and mint. Consisting of an organic Quercy lamb patty, it is topped with house-made spicy Harissa yoghurt and a cucumber and mint raita sauce, before being sandwiched between two buttery brioche buns. Available till June 30.

Hype or hit? Hit. Every bite of the burger was a symphony of flavour. The thick, juicy patty, which we got medium-rare, was seared just right and not too gamey, and the Harissa had a nice balance of heat and creaminess. Wash it all down with one of 25 Degrees’ signature malted milkshakes. 

Forlino’s Viaggo in Italia Weekend Brunch ($68+ per person, add $40+ for free flow prosecco)
Forlino’s Viaggo in Italia Weekend Brunch ($68+ per person, add $40+ for free flow prosecco)
28 May 2018

Forlino’s Viaggo in Italia Weekend Brunch ($68+ per person, add $40+ for free flow prosecco)

Address: 1 Fullerton Rd, One Fullerton #02-06, 049213

Tired of Eggs Benedict-laden weekend brunches at “hipster” cafes? Treat yourself to Forlino’s new Viaggo in Italia Weekend Brunch, which focuses on a different region of Italy every month. On top of the cold selections, which include Caprese Classica (buffalo mozzarella, Italian tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil) and Duo di Pesce (House Smoked Scottish Salmon, Cured Atlantic Swordfish Fennel and Orange Salad), there are Charcoal Grill Selections and desserts, with an absolutely to die for Delizia al Cioccolato (dark and white chocolate mousse cake). But the stand-out? The ‘Tre Formaggi’ Wheel Live Station, which consists of three pastas cooked inside three different cheese blocks flown straight from Italy. Our favourite? The oh-so-savoury risotto with mushrooms swirled inside a hollow of Aged Parmigiano.

Hype or hit? HIT. Not only is it fun to watch the pasta being swirled around in front of you, but the friendly chefs will happily share their knowledge of Italian cheeses while you wait.

KFC’s Pockett Bandito
KFC’s Pockett Bandito
28 May 2018

KFC’s Pockett Bandito

Good news, fans of KFC’s Pockett Bandito! The fast food chain has launched two new limited edition flavours of the popular wrap: BBQ Nachos and Cheesy Turkey Bacon. Prices start from $5.70 for a Pockett Bandito but you will want to get the Pockett Box ($9.50) which includes a wrap, a piece of chicken, whipped potato, Sjora drink and the new Cheese Poppers – more on that later. The Pockett Bandito will be available till first week of July.

Cheesy Turkey Bacon Pockett Bandito ($5.70)

KFC’s spicy Zinger fillet, crispy turkey bacon, and lettuce, served with a generous amount of jalapeno cheese sauce and mayonnaise in a toasty wrap.

Hype or hit? Hit. Crispy, spicy, and cheesy - this is everything we want in a chicken wrap, though it was a little messy to eat with the sauce oozing out with every bite.

BBQ Nachos Pockett Bandito ($5.70)

Instead of bacon, cheese sauce and mayo, the chicken fillet is drenched in sweet barbecue sauce and bundled with nachos, which give the wrap a nice crunch. But don’t wait too long to eat it as the nachos get soggy fast.

Hype or hit? Hype. The taste of the barbecue sauce wasn’t bad but it was a little overpowering, masking the flavour of the chicken. We were so tempted to scoop some of it out.

Photo: KFC

KFC’s Pockett Bandito
KFC’s Pockett Bandito
28 May 2018

KFC’s Pockett Bandito

Cheese Poppers ($2.50 for four pieces)

If you are feeling a bit peckish, get the Cheese Poppers which are essentially mashed potato croquettes with a gooey cheese centre. Sounds good? Wait till you taste them.

Hype or hit? These little golden brown rolls are da bomb. Crisp on the outside, fluffy, cheesy goodness on the inside. No cheese pull but yummy nonetheless.

Verdict: Two thumbs up to the new offerings but skip the BBQ Nachos Pockett Bandito unless you’re a huge fan of barbecue sauce.

Neon Pigeon
Neon Pigeon
28 May 2018

Neon Pigeon

Address: 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109

Modern izakaya-style restaurant Neon Pigeon, which is known for its creative spin on Japanese dishes, launched its new Spring menu featuring 12 new plates. Here’s what we liked:

Hamachi Tartare ($16/$30)

Diced torched hamachi are treated to a creamy miso-tofu dressing and mixed tableside with pickled daikon, quail egg and sesame crisps.

Hype or hit? Hit. The hamachi pairs sublimely with the pickled daikon which brings the perfect amount of zing and crunch to the salad. 

Duck Tonkatsu ($18/$34)

If you love tonkatsu, you have to try this duck variation which features breaded duck breast and served with ponzu sauce and pickled cucumber.

Hype or hit? Hit. Now this is tonkatsu done right. Deep-fried to a golden crisp, the duck, which was beautifully pink, was tender, moist, and not too oily. The citrusy ponzu cuts through the rich flavours and the pickled cucumber gives the dish and added dimension of flavour. 

Photo: Neon Pigeon

Neon Pigeon
Neon Pigeon
28 May 2018

Neon Pigeon

Grilled Barramundi ($18/$34)

Equally delicious is the barramundi, which is marinated with two types of miso before being grilled over charcoal and served with a parsnip crème, rosella compote and spiced mentaiko sauce.

Hype or hit? Hit. The natural sweetness of the barramundi came through nicely and with the rosella compote and creamy umami mentaiko sauce thrown into the mix, it was the dish of the day. 

Vedict: If you like izakaya-style food, you’re in for a treat, but we’d recommend getting the small plates so you get variety. And don’t forget to try their cocktails which are equally creative.

Photo: Neon Pigeon

Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex
Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex
28 May 2018

Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex

Address: 19-23 Mackenzie Road, 01-01, Singapore 228678

After 30 years, Old Chang Kee (OCK) has returned to where it all began: the original location of its first stall at Mackenzie Road. Apart from exclusive offerings like the Flower Bread and Beef Stew Rice, the retro-themed Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop also features a selection of local snacks from its affiliated brands like from Curry Times’ Dry Laksa Goreng and Bubur Cha Cha, and of course, OCK’s signature curry puff and fried nibbles.

Flower Bread with Curry Chicken ($11.90)

Huge, tender chunks of chicken and potatoes simmered to perfection in spicy, rich curry, and served with seven fluffy pull-apart buns to mop up all the goodness. Don’t worry if you run out of curry. The gravy is free flow so order away!

Hype or hit? Hit. The chicken was tender and succulent, and the curry aromatic. Though it doesn’t contain any coconut milk, it doesn’t make it any less shiok.

Flower Bread with Chicken Stew ($11.90)

Can’t take the heat? Get the Flower Bread with Chicken Stew which comes loaded with chicken, potatoes and carrots. Also available in beef ($13.90).

Hype or hit? Hit. It’s hearty and comforting, reminiscent of our mum's homemade stew.

Photos: Old Chang Kee, Instagram/@william82sg

Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex
Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex
28 May 2018

Old Chang Kee Coffeeshop @ Rex

Beef Stew Rice with Cheese ($10.90)

Also noteworthy is the Beef Stew Rice with Cheese, which is a nod to OCK’s Hainanese heritage. Cooked with beef stew, the rice is enveloped in well flavoured gravy and topped with beef, radish and carrots and melted cheese. You can also order this without the cheese for $9.50.

Hype or hit? Taste-wise it’s a hit, but some of the beef chunks, especially the ones on the surface, were a bit dry.

Verdict: We love the retro charm of the eatery and the fact that you can enjoy favourites from OCK’s concepts under one roof, but we hope to see more exclusive food items on the menu instead of just banging on its “best hits”.

River Wok
River Wok
28 May 2018

River Wok

Address: 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier, #01-12, Singapore 239013

The recently-opened Indochine restaurant, located on the banks of Robertson Quay, serves an array of traditional dishes from different regions of Southeast Asia, meaning there’s something here for everybody, since the flavours range from sweet, to spicy, to savoury, to sour. Here’s what we tried:

Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (Thai) ($22)
Out of everything we tried, this roasted duck red curry was our favourite. The rich flavour of the duck mingled nicely with the curry, which gave it just the right amount of punch without overwhelming it.

Hype or hit: Hit! 

River Wok
River Wok
28 May 2018

River Wok

Pa Heung Jeow Mak Len (Laotian) ($38) 
While we didn’t particularly mind this dish, which consists of steamed seabass with tomato dip and fresh vegetables, it didn’t make much of an impact, and tasted altogether too safe – which was disappointing considering its price. 

Hype or hit? Hype. But perhaps the catch wasn’t as good that day, so we’d be willing to give it a second chance upon returning.

Mango Sticky Rice ($10)

We never thought we’d say this, but guys, this $10 mango sticky rice is worth every penny. Just one bit of the warm rice, doused in coconut cream, transported us straight back to Bangkok. The mango was also exquisitely selected, ripe without being cloying.

Hype or hit? ​​​​​​​Hit. We're getting hungry just looking at the photos. 

Verdict: Aside from the food, which needs a bit of fine-tuning, but will probably improve as the restaurant finds its feet, one thing we really loved about this place was the atmosphere. Not only is the space huge, but at night, dining in the alfresco amidst the city lights makes it one of the more romantic places we’ve discovered in the heart of the city.

Scissors Paper Stove
Scissors Paper Stove
28 May 2018

Scissors Paper Stove

Address: 9 Teck Chye Terrace, Singapore 545720

We’ve heard dimsum described as “Chinese tapas” and tapas described as “Spanish dimsum”. So we’ll hand it to founders Chomel Yang and Januver Chow for combining the two into a quirky concept that serves Spanish food, with an Asian touch, inside tingkats (Chinese lunchboxes). But is it all a gimmick or is the food actually legit? We tried the following to find out:

Tapas (2 for $20, 4 for $36 and 6 for $48)
Ours consisted of Beef Skewers ($11), rosemary marinated minced beef served with homemade Thai chili sauce; Grilled Squid ($11.50), marinated with garlic and served with coconut yogurt sauce and fennel salad; and Pork Belly, ($11), Spanish style slow roasted Iberico pork belly served with chill with coriander and ginger sauce, and caramelised shallots. While we adored the explosion of flavours within all three, we especially loved the Grilled Squid. The coconut yogurt tempered the squid’s briny flavour, while the fennel salad provided an unexpected crunch amidst the chewiness.

We do have a one comment about the Pork Belly: at first glance, this might look like shao rou (roasted pork), but since it is prepared the Spanish way, it is way more fatty – and less crunch on top – than its Chinese cousin. Not that that’s a bad thing, but we thought we’d mention it since the Chinese-style plating can throw off people’s expectations.

Hype or hit: Hit!

Scissors Paper Stove
Scissors Paper Stove
28 May 2018

Scissors Paper Stove

Nin Jiom cocktail ($13)
Our eyes bugged out a little when we saw what was inside this cocktail: bourbon, PI PA GAO, lemon zest, honey and mint. But against all expectations, the medicinal flavour proved oddly invigorating.

Hype or hit: Hit. It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds.

Panna Cotta ($4)
This zesty lemongrass and lime infused panna cotta is a must-order.

Hype or hit: Hit

Verdict: With a concept like this one, it would have been easy to focus more on aesthetics than flavour. So we appreciate that the food not only looks good on camera, but it tasted great going right into our bellies.

 

 

Smöoy frozen yogurt
Smöoy frozen yogurt
28 May 2018

Smöoy frozen yogurt

As the only Spanish frozen yogurt brand left in town (R.I.P. Llallao), Smöoy has some big shoes to fill. But Smöoy sets itself apart from its predecessor by using a guilt-free froyo base. It’s only 0.9 percent fat, with high fiber, and is gluten-free. In addition to the natural yogurt flavour, you can try special weekly flavours like banana, berry, and green tea. And lest you think that sounds too healthy, you can sprinkle your order with candy toppings and luscious sauces. But does it taste any good?

Original frozen yogurt

While this had a hint of tartness, is was nowhere near as tangy or creamy as Llallao, and on the whole, felt distinctively “low fat”. But if you prefer your froyo on the “non yogurt-y” side, then this could be a good option.

Hype or hit? Hype.

Fruits of the Forest frozen yogurt

The sweet and sour flavour of the berries, when combined with the slight tartness of the yogurt, made this one of the most refreshing froyos we’ve tried in a while.

Hype or hit? Hit!

Turrón sauce: We tried both of our yogurts with sauce made from Turron, a traditional Spanish nougat. Its nutty, honeyed tones were downright addictive and paired well with the sharpness of the yogurt.

Verdict: While Smöoy is no Llallao, it’s a decent alternative if you want something similar but less jelat – especially if you prefer an icier texture over a creamy or milky one.  

Smöoy is available in Mini ($4.50), Classic ($5.5) and Maxi ($6.50) sizes. For takeaway, ½ litre ($9.9) or 1 litre ($17.90) sizes are available.

VeganBurg’s Rasa Sayang Burg ($12.90)
VeganBurg’s Rasa Sayang Burg ($12.90)
28 May 2018

VeganBurg’s Rasa Sayang Burg ($12.90)

Address: 44 Jalan Eunos, Singapore 419502

After all the hype about the nasi lemak burger last year, we were excited to try VeganBurg’s seemingly similar rendition of the burger, albeit a vegan one. A seasonal special introduced for Hari Raya, the 100% plant-based Rasa Sayang Burg is made with a 'chik'n' wheat protein patty, and topped with a vegan sunny-side up egg, cucumber slices, homemade sambal sauce and vegan aioli. Add $6.90 for a side of Coconut Fries and iced bandung.

Hype or hit? Despite featuring similar ingredients, this is not a nasi lemak burger, nor does it claim to be. But it is still tasty, thanks to the sweet sambal sauce and creamy aioli that provided the bulk of the flavours to the dense but rather tough patty.


Coconut Fries ($5.90)

Light, just-right crispy fries served with creamy aioli (the same one used in the burger) and toasted shredded coconut.

Hype or hit? Hit. Fries and coconut might seem like an unlikely pairing but this combination was surprisingly good and addictive.

Chendol ice cream ($6.90)

If you are hankering for dessert, they have a festive special of chendol ice cream flavoured with coconut, gula melaka and pandan jelly.

Hype or hit? Hype. We like the gula melaka flavour, which wasn’t overly sweet, but the texture of the frozen pandan jelly was a bit weird. And at $6.90 for a tiny scoop ($5.90 with the meal), the serving was a little lacking. 

Verdict: We love VeganBurg’s seasonal specials and applaud them for adding local flavoured offerings to their menu, but you might want to pass on the ice cream.

Photos: VeganBurg, Instagram/@gilmangirl

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