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

Are 4Finger’s meatless chicken, Naganuma Ice’s insanely popular ice cream, and Bonchon’s European-inspired delights worth the hype? 

New foods that got us talking in November
New foods that got us talking in November
28 Nov 2018

New foods that got us talking in November

The festive feasting hasn’t even begun and we are already worrying about our waistlines thanks to all the desserts and fast food we’ve been pampered with this month. From 4Finger’s meat-free chicken options (yes, it’s a thing) and Bonchon’s European-inspired delights, to Naganuma Ice and Haagen Dazs’s ice cream treats, here’s what we enjoyed and didn’t.

4Fingers’ meat-free options
4Fingers’ meat-free options
27 Nov 2018

4Fingers’ meat-free options

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we read that local fried chicken chain 4Fingers had teamed up with popular meat substitute Quorn to introduce two meat-free chicken items to their menu (we know, the irony). Made from Mycoprotein, a naturally healthy fungi-based protein, the Chickless Nuggets ($6.50 for 6 pieces) can be paired with sriracha or plum dips exclusively created by the fast-food chain, and Chickless Wings ($8.50 for 6 pieces), which we tried, come coated in your choice of 4Fingers’ signature soy garlic or hot sauce.

Hype or hit? To be honest, we were quite skeptical about the vegetarian options, but the breaded crispy Chickless Wings taste really legit - albeit a little on the salty side – and had a meat-like texture. Some of our colleagues couldn’t even tell they were vegan. Consider us impressed!

Can’t live without meat? Get the Smackers meal (pictured, $8.45), which consists of three pieces Chickless Wings and three pieces of 4Fingers crispy chicken.

The meat-free items are available at 4FINGERS outlets island-wide.

Bonchon’s refreshed menu
Bonchon’s refreshed menu
27 Nov 2018

Bonchon’s refreshed menu

Address: Multiple locations including Bugis+ and Northpoint City

Bonchon may be known for its fried chicken and Korean favourites such as army stew, but there are plenty of surprises with its refreshed menu: think European-inspired delights like Breaded Kimchi Balls and Truffle Cream Tteokbokki.

Trio Sliders ($15.90)

Bonchon puts a quirky spin on sliders with their trio of beef, chicken and crusty chilli soft shell crab burgers served with crispy fried mantou buns.

Hype or hit? It’s a mixed bag. We didn’t get to try the beef burger and our breaded chicken patty was a little dry and overcooked. Thankfully, the chilli crab slider made up for it. Though not as fiery as we’d like, the sweet and spicy homemade sauce, when paired with the sweet crab, packed a full flavoured punch. We recommend getting the chilli crab sliders ($10.90 for two pieces) instead of the trio.

Andong Jjimdak Chicken aka chicken stew ($15.90/$29.90)

For something more hearty, there’s Andong Jjimdak Chicken, which came highly recommended. Cooked in ganjang (Korean soy sauce), the appetising stew of chicken and vegetables is comfort food at its best.

Hype or hit? The chicken stew is pretty much the perfect dish for a rainy day. Not only was the chicken fall-off-the-bone delicious, we could not get enough of the hearty, umami-rich gravy punctuated with a spicy kick. We slurped up every bit of it and wanted more. Daebak!

Bonchon’s refreshed menu
Bonchon’s refreshed menu
27 Nov 2018

Bonchon’s refreshed menu

Truffle Cream Tteokbokki ($15.90)

Bonchon put an Italian spin on Korea’s popular rice cake dish by bringing on board rich carbonara sauce and aromatic truffle oil.

Hype or hit? Creamy, decadent and loaded with an assortment of sautéed shimeji and shiitake mushrooms, the Tteokbokki was pretty satisfying thanks to the more-than-generous dash of truffle oil. Another highlight was the carby Korean rice cakes which were chewy and had a nice QQ texture. Hit.

Verdict: The fusion-style dishes are welcome additions to the menu and while they do not disappoint, the star for us is still the Korean nosh.

Naganuma Ice
Naganuma Ice
27 Nov 2018

Naganuma Ice

Address: 1 Gopeng Street, Carlton City Hotel, Ground floor (at the back of hotel), Singapore 078862

Hokkaido soft serve specialist Naganuma Ice is the latest ice cream brand to invade the already saturated Singapore market. Not that we’re complaining. We love ice cream and the relentless heat is the perfect excuse to indulge in a scoop or three. Made with 100 percent Hokkaido raw milk, which is pasteurised at low temperatures, retaining the milk’s original flavour, Naganuma Ice’s soft serves are creamy and intensely milky. It’s no wonder the queues are always insane.

Slated to open in Singapore on December 1, their Carlton City Hotel outlet will offer six soft serve and 12 gelato flavours at any point in time, with flavours refreshed every three to four days, as well as Crème Brulee Rich Milk Soft Serve and Black Lovers Parfait. Can’t wait? Head to Isetan Scotts where Naganuma Ice has a pop-up store till December 3. Here’s what to try:

Rich Milk Soft Serve ($6, add 50 cents for cone)

First order of the day was Naganuma Ice’s signature soft serve. They were not exaggerating when they named it “rich milk” – you feel like you are tasting freshly squeezed milk from the farm. Also comes in gelato form which is lighter.

Hype or hit? HIT! Smooth, creamy and tasted like full cream milk, just the way we like our soft serves, though one of our colleagues, who is a milk fiend, preferred a richer taste.

Red Wine Soft Serve ($6, add 50 cents for cone)

Another soft serve that blew us away was the Red Wine. Made with Japanese red wine, the alcohol is extracted, leaving just the grape flavour for the ice cream. All of Naganuma Ice’s “alcoholic” flavours are in fact virgin and kid-friendly.

Hype or hit? Light with a delicately sweet creaminess, the Red Wine reminded us of grape Yakult and got us reminiscing about our childhood. Though we were a tad disappointed that it was booze-free, it was our favourite among the soft serves.

Naganuma Ice
Naganuma Ice
27 Nov 2018

Naganuma Ice

Crème Brulee Rich Milk Soft Serve ($8)

We were most excited to try this hybrid made up of two of our favourite desserts. The cone is three-quarters filled with Rich Milk soft serve then layered with creamy custard before being sprinkled with raw sugar and torched to golden brown perfection.

Hype or hit? This food hybrid is genius. A little sweet at the start, but once the decadent custard mixed with the soft serve, our tastebuds were in dessert heaven. Extra points for the eggy cone, which tastes like love letters.

Naganuma Ice
Naganuma Ice
27 Nov 2018

Naganuma Ice

Yubari Melon gelato ($5.50 for single scoop, $6.50 for double. Add 50 cents for cone)

You know those sweet and highly-prized rock melons from Hokkaido? This is it in ice cream form.

Hype or hit? The melon was an absolute delight on the palate. Deliciously sweet, refreshing and natural tasting, we felt like we were eating those $50 cantaloupes. Hit!

Matcha gelato 

We decided to try the Matcha gelato, which is one of their bestsellers, and it did not disappoint.

Hype or hit? Made with matcha powder from Yame, the gelato is super gao (concentrated) and bitter. A must if you are a matcha purist.

Verdict: Most of the flavours tick all the boxes taste-wise, but the tiny store, which can only accommodate around six standing customers, can be a tight squeeze when it gets crowded. That said, it won’t stop us from going back for more. We can’t wait to try their other flavours.

Old Chang Kee’s Cheesy-licious Chicken’O ($2)
Old Chang Kee’s Cheesy-licious Chicken’O ($2)
27 Nov 2018

Old Chang Kee’s Cheesy-licious Chicken’O ($2)

Over the years, Old Chang Kee has been frying up some unique curry puffs (think nasi lemak and jackfruit) and the latest to join their stable of limited-edition eats is the Cheesy-licious Chicken'O, which is basically their signature curry puff with cheddar and mozzarella presented in a black charcoal crust.

Hype or hit? Sadly, the puff doesn’t live up to its cheesy-licious name. We could barely taste the cheese, let alone get any cheese pull. That said, the filling is still tasty but it isn’t going to impress cheese lovers. Stick to the classic Curry’O.

The Sampan
The Sampan
27 Nov 2018

The Sampan

Address: 63 Boat Quay, Singapore 049851

Restaurant bar The Sampan is the new kid on the dock at the bustling Boat Quay. With a focus on Pan Asian fare, the menu comprises an array of eclectic dishes like Mushroom Choi Bao, Bahn Mi and Pani Puri, as well as gluten free, vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free options.

Mushroom San Choi Bao ($3.50 per piece)

We kicked off the tasting session with a light, vegetarian Mushroom San Choi Bao, a saucy, umami mix of shiitake, enoki and black fungus mushrooms served on a lettuce wrap. Eat it like a hand roll in one bite because it can get messy.

Hype or hit? The strong earthy flavours might not appeal to everyone but it is pretty tasty thanks to the wok hei and sauce. For the meat option, there’s the Pork and Chicken San Choi Bao ($3.50). 

Banh Mi ($12)

A modern twist on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich, the hand-sized Banh Mi features foie gras, pork neck, fresh vegetables, and sriracha mayo sandwiched between rye bread.

Hype or hit? The words “foie gras” piqued our interest, but unfortunately, the sliver of liver was so thin that it was almost non-existent. If you can get over it, the smoky-sweet grilled pork will leave you satiated.

The Sampan
The Sampan
27 Nov 2018

The Sampan

Blue Swimmer Crab and Pomelo Salad ($14)

A generously portioned salad served with baby spinach, shredded crab meat, young coconut ribbon, and dried shrimp, all infused with sweet and sour chilli dressing.

Hype or hit? Hit. The salad is light, refreshing and beautifully balanced with sharp and spicy flavours from the tangy dressing. If you like Thai salads, this will be right up your alley.

Szechuan Pepper Chicken Spare Ribs with Spring Union Salad ($12)

We were expecting a mala sauce-drenched poultry dish a la kung pao chicken, but what appeared before us were instead deep-fried battered chicken tenders. And they were surprisingly good.

Hype or hit? Bathed in a salt-pepper-five-spice rub, the chicken tenders are lightly battered and deep-fried to a golden crisp. The accompanying savoury sauce elevates the dish. Hit!

Verdict: Pretty decent fare at wallet-friendly prices. Worth a visit if you are looking for something different when bar-hopping in the area.

Häagen-Dazs’ mochi ice cream
Häagen-Dazs’ mochi ice cream
28 Nov 2018

Häagen-Dazs’ mochi ice cream

Following the success of its mochi series last year, Häagen-Dazs has returned with two limited edition flavours inspired by our favourite desserts for the festive season: Cream Cheese Mochi and Tiramisu Mochi. And you know what? We like them even more. The Cream Cheese Mochi is a delightful treat of bite-sized chewy mochi, combined with the velvety taste of fluffy cheesecake, while the Tiramisu Mochi is made with Italian mascarpone.

Hype or hit: Hit. Rich flavour aside, we were pleasantly surprised by the light scent of coffee that greeted us as we dived into the Tiramisu ice cream. The sweetness of the chocolate and pleasant aftertaste of the coffee flavour made it irresistible.

Available at the Häagen-Dazs Pop-Up store on Orchard Road (in front of Ngee Ann City), leading supermarkets and convenience stores at $14.50 (pint) and $5.50 (cup).

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