Hype or Hit: New foods that got us talking in February

Are McDonald's chocolate pie, Keisuke Takeda's duck ramen and Say Chiizu's super long fries worth the hype? 

Say Chiizu Café
Say Chiizu Café
27 Feb 2018

Say Chiizu Café

Address: Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, 04-01, Singapore 188067

Thailand’s Say Chiizu, famed for their ultra-stretchy Hokkaido cheese toast, is set to open a café at Bugis+ in early March. In addition to its Original, Charcoal and Chocolate cheese toasts, the 15 seat outfit offers an expanded menu including a Matcha version, as well as exclusive offerings like Cheese Tea (unlike the one in the Motherland, this one’s made with Thai milk tea) and Super Long Fries. Selected snacks will be made available at the chain's takeaway outlets by the end of the month.

Super Long Fries ($5.80)
At a whopping 30 cm in length, these fries are possibly Singapore’s longest yet. Light, fluffy strings of mashed potato with a light golden brown crust, the fries are served with grated parmesan cheese and your choice of either Wasabi Mayo sauce or Onion Mayo sauce. You can up the ante with the free powder seasonings like the usual suspects of BBQ, Sour Cream, Original Cheese, Seaweed, or the more unique Sweet Corn. Go for the savoury Onion Mayo with Seaweed, which enhances the umami flavour of the fries, but skip the cartoony Original Cheese that tastes like Super Rings.

Hype or hit? Hit. Fluffy, extra-long fries doused in mayo. What’s not to love?

Say Chiizu Café
Say Chiizu Café
27 Feb 2018

Say Chiizu Café

Chicken Bites ($4.80) and Chicken Mid Joint ($5.80 for four)
The Chicken Bites and Chicken Mid Joint also do not disappoint. Juicy, tender, and deep-fried to a golden crisp. An additional $2 gets you a luscious topping of melted cheese but we recommend ordering it naked and pimping it with Sweet Corn seasoning - it sounds a bit odd but the chicken blends well with the slightly sweet topping. Imagine the fried chicken version of Two Chef’s butter pork ribs with condensed milk powder. Yes, it is that good.

Hype or hit? Hit. We will never eat chicken wings the same way again.

Verdict: Glorified fast food but at least it is delish. Unfortunately, the drinks menu is severely lacking so fingers crossed they will include some refreshing beverages to complement all the cheesy and fried food soon. 

McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie
McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie
27 Feb 2018

McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie

After months of craving, McDonald’s much-raved about Chocolate Pie will finally be making its way to Singapore. The viral pie, which was first launched last year in South Korea, was so popular it caught the attention of foreign media. The sweet treat will be launched alongside the limited-edition Fish & Fries and Sweet Chilli Fish Burger on March 1.

Chocolate Pie ($1.40)
As fans of all things molten and chocolate-laden, we had high hopes for this one but it simply did not live up to expectations. Encased in a crispy chocolate crust, the gooey chocolate filling was not overly sweet, which is a good thing, but was a little too thick and jelak for our taste.

Hype or hit? Hype. Go for it if you want a molten lava treat minus the price tag, but order it à la mode with a side of vanilla soft serve to enhance the taste.

Photo: Instagram/@popkimchi_mag

McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie
McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie
27 Feb 2018

McDonald’s Fish & Fries and Chocolate Pie

Fish & Fries ($7.90 for Extra Value Meal)
McDonald has a hit on its hands. Served with its famous fries and tartar sauce, the fish fillet is soft and flavourful, while the batter is enticingly crispy. Also note-worthy is the Sweet Chilli Fish Burger ($7.50 for Extra Value Meal), which features the same battered fillet, and is served with sweet chilli mayo and fresh vegetables on a chilli bun.

Hype or hit? Hit. Watch out Long John Silver's, McDonald’s new Fish & Fries is a force to be reckoned with.

Verdict: The light and crispy battered fish was surprisingly good, but skip the Chocolate Pie.

Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke
Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke
27 Feb 2018

Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke

Address: 16A Lor Mambong, Singapore 277677

Chef Keisuke Takeda, of lobster ramen fame, has introduced his latest innovation: duck ramen! While duck is rarely used in Japanese cuisine, let alone in ramen, he decided to include it as a homage to his training in French cuisine. As Singapore’s first restaurant dedicated to duck ramen, Ramen Keisuke Group’s 13th concept offers five ramen choices, all served with slices of premium Irish hybrid duck, which is renowned for its fattiness. The duck is marinated in special shoyu and slightly charred for flavour, and then steamed at 65 degrees to make it tender. Of the five types of ramen, the two that are receiving the most hype are the signature rich duck broth and the signature clear duck broth. 

Opens March 3

Hybrid Duck Broth Ramen (clear soup) - $14.90 | With Flavoured Egg - $16.90 | Special - $19.90
This clear soup, prepared with a whole Irish duck and simmered over low heat for five hours, is a winner. Cosy, yet light, it is served with thinner noodles and two slices of duck, along with two oh-so-tender meatballs made of ground duck thigh and duck breast. Adding a bit of yuzu kosho paste (which comes on the side) gives the broth an unexpected, yet thoroughly delicious, brightness, while adding a bit of Japanese Black Chili makes it extra fragrant. Fun fact: Kamo Soba Keisuke is the only restaurant in Singapore where this particular chilli (which has 7 peppers) is available, so make the most of your visit by trying it!

Hype or hit? Hit. It was love at first slurp when we sampled the savoury, yet refreshing broth and melt-in-your-mouth duck meat.

Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke
Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke
27 Feb 2018

Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke

Hybrid Duck Broth Ramen (Rich Soup) - $14.90 | With Flavoured Egg - $16.90 | Special - $19.90
Want something a little more substantial? The rich soup uses duck bones and herbs in the stock and is simmered for eight hours, giving it a viscosity that makes every spoonful feel like a warm hug.

Hype or hit? Hit. Taste-wise, this is pretty much the perfect ramen for a rainy day, but if you’re the type to eat like a bird, this might be a little overwhelming.

Verdict: Chef Keisuke must be a genius, because he somehow managed to eliminate the usual gaminess of duck to produce something that is both unique and accessible. If you have any room left in your stomach, you can also try the uber-robust tsukemen (dipping noodles), which uses a sauce made of the rich duck soup and bonito flakes.    

En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet
En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet
27 Feb 2018

En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet

Address: Capital Tower, 168 Robinson Road #01-10 Singapore 068912

Are there any words sweeter than “free-flow crab and Wagyu”? En Sakaba’s buffet course offers unlimited servings of Miyazaki Wagyu Beef, Iberico Kruobuta Pork and Zuwai Kani Queen Crab with umami-rich bonito broth. At just $78++ per pax for a period of at least three months, you can get all this, plus three appetisers, a platter with three different types of sashimi, wagyu sushi, fresh vegetables, prawn and vegetable tempura, and premium Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Check out some of the highlights:

Zuwai Kani Queen Crab and Miyazaki Wagyu Beef
Dip the beef in the soup for just a few seconds, lest it get tough, and enjoy the melt-in-your mouth texture. We also loved how easily the crab slipped off its shell.

Hype or hit? Hit. We thought we were sick of steamboat after all the Chinese New Year feasting, but this restored our love for it right back.

En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet
En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet
27 Feb 2018

En Sakaba’s Miyazaki Wagyu & Premium Queen Crab Hotpot Buffet

Wagyu sushi
This luscious, freshly-torched Wagyu beef sushi practically glided down our throats. 

Hype or hit? Hit. We’d order a couple more servings of this a la carte if our stomachs had the space.

Rice and Udon
Done with all your ingredients? Polish off the leftover broth by mixing it with either rice or udon for a robust conclusion to your meal.

Hype or hit? We didn’t get to try the udon, but the rice, mixed with the broth, made for a sinfully savoury porridge.

Verdict: At just $78++ per person, this overwhelmingly hearty meal is totally worth the money. We practically fasted for 24 hours afterward. If anything, we wish that those in charge of the menu had included a palate cleanser between courses, but that was mild quibble amidst the table of deliciousness.

ToriYard
ToriYard
27 Feb 2018

ToriYard

Address: 1380 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Bishan Park 2, Singapore 569930

This one-month-old yakitori joint located amidst the lush greenery of Bishan Park is run by the Aramsa Spa Group, who are also behind restaurants like Canopy Dining Bar. The menu is pretty extensive. There are over 20 varieties of meat, seafood and vegetable skewers - all cooked over a charcoal grill - as well as a selection of unique starters and in-house infused fruit sochu.

Onsen Tamago Cocktail ($17)
This starter of onsen egg with foie gras, salmon roe, and sea urchin is a standout. Served in a martini glass, you are meant to down it in one shot so you can taste all the different elements and textures. The luscious runny egg, melt-in-your-mouth foie gras, popping salmon roe and creamy sea urchin all come together to create a party in your mouth.

Hype or hit? Hit. It isn’t the bestseller for nothing.

Photos: ToriYard

ToriYard
ToriYard
27 Feb 2018

ToriYard

Momo - chicken thigh yakitori ($7)
When it comes to chicken thigh yakitori, few make them as good as ToriYard. The secret lies in the chicken skin which is left on and used to wrap the generous chunks of meat, keeping it tender and juicy, and the skin crispy. We also enjoyed the shiitake yakitori ($4), which was accented by the aromatic punch of truffle.

Hype or hit? Hit. The yakitori are great on their own but if you want to switch up your skewer selections, there are 11 condiments including yuzu salt, garlic chilli oil, yakiniku, and mentai, that you can help yourself to.

Wagyu Fried Rice ($16)
We really wanted to like this dish. The idea of thin strips of wagyu, egg and rice tossed in wagyu fat sounds amazing, but sadly the dish was not. The rice was a little on the bland side and too wet.

Hype or hit? Hype. The only thing that could save this dish would be to eat it with garlic chilli oil.

Verdict: The food and ambience tick all the boxes, but sit outdoors if the weather permits as the restaurant, with its open-concept grill station, can get smokey and smell of eau de grill when the place starts to fill up.

Photos: ToriYard

Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet at Lewin Terrace ($38++ per pax)
Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet at Lewin Terrace ($38++ per pax)
28 Feb 2018

Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet at Lewin Terrace ($38++ per pax)

Address: 21 Lewin Terrace, Singapore 179290

Dessert buffets are a dime and dozen in Singapore, which is why this Chitose strawberry-themed spread, which is available until April 30, caught our attention. The strawberries were grown in Malaysia using Japanese technology, while the chefs fashioned the desserts did so as a tribute to Japan's love for the strawberry season. While the spread changes a little bit every day, we were able to try a number of the goodies available. So how did they all stack up? 

Strawberry chiffon 
This dessert, which essentially looks like a pink pandan cake, sure is cute, but it could have been more fragrant. 

Hype or hit? Hype. The texture was nice (not too dry), but the strawberry flavour didn't quite come through. 

Choux puff
This was our favourite, as the crunchy exterior and gorgeously rich custard interior was shiok to the max. 

Hype or hit? Hit! We should have smuggled some in our purse to take home. 

Strawberry macarons
Surprisingly enough, these were not as cloying as you might expect. 

Hype or hit? Hit. They satisfied our sweet tooth without leaving that awful "artificial strawberry" aftertaste so prevalent in macarons. 


Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet, Lewin Terrace ($38+ per pax or as a top-up to set menus)
Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet, Lewin Terrace ($38+ per pax or as a top-up to set menus)
28 Feb 2018

Ichigo Delight strawberry dessert buffet, Lewin Terrace ($38+ per pax or as a top-up to set menus)

Strawberry Swiss rolls
Our favourite thing about these? Their size -- just small enough for a taste. 

Hype or hit? Hype. We liked the fresh cream enough, and while there was nothing awful about these, we didn't go back for a second serving either. 

Ice cream
Halfway through the buffet, we ordered a scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream as a palate cleanser, which came in a bowl decorated with slivers of Chitose strawberries. Sooo cute. 

Hype or hit? Hit. This successfully rebooted our tastebuds in time for Round 2. 

Strawberry crème brûlée and mousse
The petite pink crème brûlée and creamy strawberry mousse were wonderfully smooth, and not too rich -- our only complaint is that by the time we got to them, they'd melted a bit. Probably due to the table's placement in the alfresco area. 

Hype or hit? Slightly melted state aside, we give these a hit. 

Verdict: While the offerings were hit or miss, and the outdoor placement unfortunately, we give Lewin Terrace points for creating a themed spread set apart from the usual basic dessert buffets. 

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