March 25, 2023

Not the 50 Best tour day 1: I'm with Emma

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I'm back in Singapore for a few days, on my first trip since that short weekend just before the pandemic hit. A certain segment of the world's population are in town for a few days for events surrounding this year's edition of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, but I won't be going to the festivities or the numerous collaborations and pop-ups. I'm in town to catch up with friends, and to taste the local food that I've been missing so badly.

I did happen to be on the same flight as the Great One, Goldfinger, and Giona, and as some of us were staying in hotels near the Great One, we were offered a ride into town by the Great One. We temporarily parked our luggage at the Raffles Hotel as Giona was intent on getting some coffee and grabbing some bak chor mee (肉脞面).

Our first stop was Pinhole Coffee Bar, where they thought it would be cool to have different names for their coffees. This is how I came to have a csold brew...

Our next stop was Seng Huat Eating House (成發咖啡屋) as the ladies were on a mission. In all my years of living in Singapore, I have never understood people's love for bak chor mee. But I'm here in Singapore for the first time in years, so I keep an open mind and go with the flow.

So I got myself a bowl of dry mushroom minced meat noodles (香菇肉脞面) with mee pok (面薄). I gotta say that I still didn't "get" this. You have some minced pork along with some sliced pork, which are blanched without seasoning... and often overcooked. Throw in a couple of slices of blanched pork liver and a few bits of deep-fried ikan bilis. Here we've also got some mushrooms. Mix it all up with a vinegar-based sauce. It's OK, but not worthy of an obsession.

I bid farewell to the ladies and checked into 30 Bencoolen, which will be my home for the next few days. After a quick shower to freshen up, I head over to Dempsey to meet up with a friend I haven't seen in 5 years.

I had never been interested in eating at Burnt Ends in all the years of its existence. It didn't look like the kind of food I would want to pay up to eat in a restaurant, and if I did, I'd get myself a reservation at Asador Extebarri. Besides, there are just too many other interesting restaurants I'd spend my money on in Singapore.

But this changed when my friend Emma Maxwell became the designer for the new restaurant in Dempsey. I had seen her posts about the place and wanted to come see it. So we agreed to meet up for early drinks and bar snacks at the new Burnt Ends Bar at 5 p.m. The timing was perfect for me, as I wanted to finish and get out at an early hour.

Dave was doing a four-hands event with Ice Supakorn from Sorn tonight, so atmosphere was particularly tense in the open kitchen mere hours before the event was to start. Emma gives me a tour of the stunning private dining room hidden away on the side, which is actually equipped with its own grills and effectively is a separate kitchen.

PR8 had actually invited me to dinner here tomorrow, but there was no way I wasn't coming with Emma and getting the tour from her!

We settle down at the bar, where guest bartender Eddy Yang from Shanghai was just starting his evening shift. Again, this was a stunning space partly inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

I got myself a Growing in Spring to start, and as a negroni lover, this was pretty up my alley.

Smoked quail egg and caviar - a classic signature dish. This was absolutely fine, but as I told my friend, this was a dish that I ate about 10 years too late. By now everyone's done a smoked quail or pigeon egg, with or without caviar.

Buttermilk fried drumlet - decent fried chicken.

Beef marmalade and house pickles - the flavors here were great. Good acidity helps to balance out that sweetness in the beef marmalade. It's a shame I waited too long and the bottom got completely soggy.

Duck liver parfait tartlet - very rich and sinful inside. There was definitely good fruity acidity, very sweet and caramelized with a very crunchy crust and a dose of salt to put it all together. As much as I love fatty stuff, I felt maybe they should tone down the fat just a little.

BE sanger - the pulled pork was pretty good with a spicy kick.

I also ordered a Twinkle Twinkle from Eddy, where the fragrance from elderflowers made it very pleasant to drink.

We were booted out of the bar around 7:30 p.m. so I bade farewell to my talented friend, congratulated her on her work, and went off to Esplanade to check out the happenings for Earth Hour 2023.

I wasn't really full from the bar snacks earlier, so after Earth Hour finished I strolled over to Makansutra Gluttons Bay for some chow. I haven't had a proper murtabak in years, and this mutton murtabak was pretty satisfying... and a good way to finish up the day.

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