Omakase Burger, Wisma Atria

I don’t know how long they have been opened at Wisma Atria, but recently I made my first ever visit to Omakase Burger. It’s an expensive burger joint, as compared to what I know of burger places, which are fairly limited to the fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and the likes. Of course, I know everyone will tell me they are different, or even worlds apart for this is a gourmet burger joint. Well, maybe.

I wasn’t so keen on beef even though their signature being the Omakase Burger boasts a beef patty. I considered a veggie burger but decided to just go for what sounded pretty safe, a Chicken Sandwich. Boy was I wrong. So this is my safe-sounding chicken sandwich, with a portion of sweet potato fries! It’s actually my first time having sweet potato fries, I think. Yes I am that slow. And they are pretty awesome though not as awesome as spam fries.IMG_0431.JPGThis is my friend’s burger. I can’t recall if it is the Omakase or a regular Cheeseburger but apparently their cheeseburgers are good too. And the usual shoe-string fries that I was having such a strong craving for.

IMG_0432.JPGYummylicious-looking! I regretted not going for the recommended because this indeed looks like it would be better than what I had.

IMG_0433.JPGThe Chicken Sandwich. It is actually not too bad, but it’s more like deep-fried chicken fillet burger. The chicken is so oily that quite a fair amount of oil pooled at the crevice of the paper envelope that was used to contain the burger. -_-|||

IMG_0434.JPGOther than that oiliness which had me feeling guilty for a whole week (!) the chicken was nice, like all deep-fried stuff (that are not fried in stale cooking oil). And the bun. Oh my, that has got to be the winning factor for me. It’s so nice and soft and I am quite sure that even on its own it would taste fantastic. They is such a alluring fragrance from it that I couldn’t help appreciating it more than the fried chicken. And this is coming from someone who prefers the tougher, more chewy multi/wholegrain kind of bread.

The fries weren’t too shabby, like how shoestring fries are nice as compared to thick-cut ones. Maybe if I ever return, I will check out the vegetarian option or just stick to the cheeseburger. Haha.

Department of Caffeine, Singapore

Finally went to D.O.C. and when I was nearing it, I was wondering if it was even open because of how nondescript it looks from the outside. Just a door and a small glass panel, with the facade of the cafe occupying a really tiny space.

20140122-083406.jpgLuckily it was open, and beyond that door, it was really quite a world of difference. Well, the place inside is still rather cosy in terms of the space and seating, but from the outside where I thought the cafe might not be open, to the buzz of activity and chatter within, it kind of feels like I’d stepped into a different realm altogether.

This is how the menu of the place looks like. Many cafes these days adopt such a style of having the menu printed on a sheet of paper like an advert of a newspaper, and then clip it onto a cardboard.

20140122-083419.jpgTheir food items are fairly pricey, although depending on what you order, it could be considered value-for-money in terms of the portion. Besides coffee and tea and some other selection of drinks like juices, they have cakes & pastries too, and quite a good selection of lunch items. I was eyeing the carrot cake that the next table was having but it was lunchtime, so I ordered something more substantial. I had a mixed salad, the roasted cauliflower and roasted butternut squash, in a regular serving that costs S$13. You could mix all three types if you need some carbohydrates, but I wasn’t really keen on the soba noodles so I just picked two. The large portion costs S$15.

20140122-083425.jpgAlthough cauliflowers aren’t my most favourite of vegetables its crunchiness was something I enjoyed, and butternut squash! Oh my, I really love this, and together the portion was still enough for me.

Smoked salmon scramble at S$15. The scrambled eggs were very buttery so if you are not so keen on the strong butter taste in it then maybe this isn’t the choice for you. But the butter in it was what made it so fragrant and of course, decadent.

20140122-083430.jpgAnd the 8hr Pulled Pork, a burger. The bun actually looks rather nice but the pulled pork was veering towards the dry side. Priced at S$14.50

20140122-083435.jpgAnd this is their cappuccino, with a latte art that had us thinking if it’s meant to be a plant or flower, and someone even suggested it gave her the impression it’s like Buddha. Hmm.

20140122-083440.jpgAnd the americano. I think perhaps I should just stick to more common coffee joints were americano is concerned, i.e. from Starbucks and the likes, because I have ordered this drink from cafes that boast of great coffees, only to find the drink too acidic for my liking. Maybe my palate is just such that I am not meant to drink and appreciate good coffee, or where such coffees are concerned, I should just go for the flat white or lattes.

20140122-083445.jpgAs I was googling for images of Department of Caffeine, I saw so many nice pictures of the place and also the cakes! I really need to make a repeat visit some day to try out the cake(s), also probably after I have managed to visit the other places that I have been thinking of going to. Oh, and their food menu changes, because from what I have seen of others’ posts, the salad and kitchen menus are different from when I went!

The staff are prompt and polite but there is quite a lot of self-service here. They bring you a glass of water each and subsequently, you can help yourself to complimentary water at a designated place in the cafe. Also, you have to order and pay at the counter after which the food and drinks will be served to you at your table. Condiments are also pretty much on a self-service basis. Some people don’t like such a concept because the tables and chairs are arranged in a tight fashion, which makes moving in and out difficult if you are seated on the inside next to the wall because there is hardly any space between back-facing chairs of other patrons.

The Green Room, Singapore

It has been a long time since I last went to Bishan Park and boy has it changed. Well, maybe the last time I set foot in the park was when I was in… secondary school? That is as much as my memory takes me to, as I recalled going there with secondary school friends for inline-skating or perhaps cycling. I might have visited again on other occasions but there’s no recollection of those.

A small part of it, at least where my friend and I went to on Christmas Day for dinner, resembled Botanic Gardens in some way. Yes they are both parks or gardens replete with flora and fauna but I didn’t remember Bishan Park (of the past) with restaurants and there was this cluster of eateries within a stone’s throw away from the carpark. We settled on this place called The Green Room, that sells “ethno-botanical cuisine”. I have totally no idea what that means but it just means no meat or vegetarian to us.

This was an appetiser that we ordered, part of the festive menu. I don’t now remember its name, but we expected something along the lines of fried cut/sliced peppers. Instead, what turned up seemed more like an omelette. It was a little oily but flavourful and it comes with a cranberry compote dip that I think was quite nice.

20140103-104702.jpgThought we’d order a soup too, so we chose the Spinach Dumpling Soup. There were 3 dumplings in a vegetable broth that felt a little plain. The dumplings were quite nice though, although if you are someone who doesn’t like chives, you are forewarned of it in the menu. Basically, they contained spinach, mushroom, tofu and chives.

20140103-104712.jpgAnd check this out!

20140103-104718.jpgWhat’s a laksa doing in a vegetarian eatery you’d think? We saw some other patrons having this and piqued our interest because it looks quite good, so we ordered one too. Taste-wise, it doesn’t use prawn paste but to me, someone who seldom eats laksa, this is pretty close to the real thing because of the leaves that were used in the gravy I think. It’s a vegan soy laksa, which uses soy milk laksa base and is served with mixed mushrooms and their signature tofu. Although it somehow feels a tad sinful I enjoyed this pretty much and was glad that it was shared so that I could try other dishes too! At $14 for a bowl, I think the serving was pretty generous but you may beg to differ if you feel that ingredients wise it isn’t that worth, depends how you want to see it.

And our final item, the Mushroom Tofu Burger!

20140103-104723.jpgThis is made up of a fried mushroom and tofu patty with tomato slices, lettuce and vegan mayonnaise. Those yellow sides are actually jack fruit chips, which were a little tough but nicely-crunchy. I loved this too, despite that the patty was probably deep-fried but maybe because it didn’t contain any meat, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed after eating it. Or it could just be all in my head.

Looking at all that we had, it’s not difficult to imagine that we didn’t have any leftover space for desserts after that. You can check out more of the place and its menu here, and perhaps if I head to Bishan Park again in future, I’ll try other items like the Pad Thai! The place has rather good ambience and although service can be a little slow when the eatery is crowded, I like that they provide a complimentary bottle of water, so no worries if you are feeling the heat from the laksa!

The Chop House, Vivocity

For my friend and I, every year we would treat each other to a nice birthday dinner. It doesn’t always have to be somewhere expensive or fancy, but just somewhere we thought we might like to check out. This year, my friend actually wanted to check out Jamie’s Italian at Vivocity, but unfortunately, reservations were very limited and filled months in advance, and walking in, although available, meant waiting in line for perhaps a duration that we weren’t exactly prepared to do. Hopefully, we can come back another time when there is no/less queue. Who knows, as Singaporeans tend to be fickle when it comes to thronging new eateries, a good example being Tin Ho Wan in Plaza Singapura. I will reserve my opinions for that until such time when I actually get to try it right here.

So we went to The Chop House instead, an eatery that looked promising when we walked past on the way to Jamie’s. My friend thought the decor of this place reminded her of The Skinny Pizza, with its simple and clean lines with a touch of industrial-chic (that is my opinion). But it’s actually from this Wooloomooloo Group (you can read more about it here), a grill house that hails from Hong Kong.  20130926-083512.jpg

The grill house struck me more of a Mexican place, based on their offerings on the menu (mainly just the quesadillas and fajitas haha). If we had more people in our party, we could probably order more stuff to try, like the soups and starters. We were really hungry and just jumped straight to the mains, because from what we eyed on the tables of other patrons, portions seemed pretty large.

I chose the chicken Fajitas, sauteed with onions, bell peppers and chillies, and were served with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and tortillas! It’s a self-wrap kind of dish, which really made me think of the trip I made to Mexico City, eating tacos that I wrapped myself, and the yummy guacamole and salsa spreads.  20130926-083525.jpg

There were four tortillas, but I think the chicken meat isn’t enough to go round all four pieces, and I didn’t want to have so much tortillas anyway, so I just had three. Besides these sauces that were served with the Fajitas, there were also a rack of three other spreads provided, one that contained beetroot, another which was chilli mustard and the last being sweet onion relish (or something like that). I love the grilled chicken, which is tender and not losing its juiciness; they are good even on their own without the spreads.20130926-083532.jpg

My friend had the BBQ Beef, Bacon and Cheddar Burger that was served with tater tots (bite-sized hash browns). It was huge but it certainly looked extremely appetising for the hungry us. I almost wished I had ordered this instead but I knew I wouldn’t have been able to finish it at the end. Maybe the next time if I were to visit again, I’ll order a burger too! 20130926-083539.jpg

They had some sides too that I was tempted to order too, like Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Aubergine, Zucchini and Tomato, but for two persons it was definitely going to be a challenge finishing all that food if we had. Their menu isn’t extremely extensive, but I would say they have quite a good mix of items, chops and burgers and the likes. The table next to us ordered a Mixed Grill Platter (for two) that looked really good too!

Since it is a birthday meal, of course how can we go without dessert. The selection was small but this was the only picture on the menu and we saw the actual item on another table, which looked just as good. The Apple Strudel in tortilla with Vanilla Ice-cream:  20130926-083546.jpg

It is interesting to wrap the apple slices in tortillas before deep-frying them (not baked otherwise the skin wouldn’t be crispy), and the vanilla ice-cream was nicely fragrant. I took a mouthful of it and it was good. Apple strudels or apple crumbles are something that I quite enjoy if they are not too sweet; I don’t have too many expectations or requirements of these, heh.

The Chop House has a whole menu of drinks for you to choose from too, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and the service was pretty good. It was a weekend so maybe with the expectation of crowds, they had kept a sizeable staff strength who made sure that diners aren’t kept waiting too long to be attended to. It’s a place worth checking out besides the usual raved-about places that everyone scrambles to queue up just to have dinner. Thumbs up!

Kraze Burger, MBS

Finally tried South Korean burger house, Kraze Burger for the first time in my life! I think I mixed them up with Freshness Burger because of the colour of the logo, because while I was talking about it with my friends, I mentioned to them the other outlet(s) I have seen elsewhere before took the form of a fast-food outlet instead of the restaurant concept like those of Billy Bombers, in this case. After I checked out their website (linked above), I realised the confusion I had, because I remembered that Freshness Burger was in Singapore for a while, but I think they have since left (right?). Then I also remembered seeing this in Seoul but had never tried it.

So anyway, my friends and I went to Kraze at MBS since unlike the nearby Rasapura, Ding Tai Fung or Toast Box, it wasn’t overflowing with patrons. It was not empty but there were available seats, and we had a short wait before being shown to a table that happened to be right below a speaker which was blasting pop music. I wondered if the rest of the tables had a similar experience, because as much as the ceiling was fairly high, the volume was high and the music just felt annoying and jarring. Perhaps that is a strategy to induce high turnover of patrons, yet I think if you want to operate a restaurant instead of following the usual concept of a fast-food chain, this kind of “experience” leaves much to be desired.

Service was iffy, but generally acceptable. All of us ordered burgers and opted to not have any sides or drinks because with that kind of noise it wasn’t possible to hold any decent conversations, so after having the food, we left for somewhere quieter.

I decided on the Salmon Burger with whole wheat bun, after thinking if I should have a Cajun Chicken Salad or Soup but since this is a burger house after all, burgers it shall be then! This is my stacked-so-high-it’s-impossible-to-bite-into burger, with a side of greens.   20130812-100243.jpg

The grilled salmon fillet, or what they called smoked salmon (it felt more grilled actually) was quite nice. I liked it even if it was a little oily because maybe I was really ravenous. I took the entire burger apart, layer by layer, which is usually how I eat my burgers anyway unless it’s McD’s then there isn’t a need to. The burger had generous portions of healthy greens and some tomato and cucumber slices, together with what was supposed to be cream cheese spread. Overall, I liked the combination because surprisingly for a burger it sounded, looked and felt quite healthy, or delusionally I think it is. The bun, for a whole wheat bun, was quite soft and I would have preferred if it wasn’t as soft as it was because it felt more like white bread and my personal preference leans towards bread with a little extra omph in its bite that would end up sticking to my incisors when I sink my fangs into the bun.20130812-100253.jpg

The burger costs S$15 before the extras of service and taxes, but if you are paying with UOB credit cards (not sure how long this promotion lasts) there is a 20% off the bill! In general, the place was ok. It was too loud for us to want to stay longer and we didn’t try their sides even though the fries looked rather appetising. Food took a while to be served, which could mean that we were there at the same time as other patrons going for an earlier dinner and perhaps also that food is freshly-prepared?