Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Thai-Muslim Foodstall

Around a month or so ago, my colleagues told me that a new Thai-Muslim foodstall just opened at the coffeeshop near our workplace.

2 weeks ago, we decide to give this place a shot. Located right next to another Muslim food stall selling 'Ayam Penyet', I wonder if this new presence affected their sales, somewhat.

I saw the pictures of food that they have on display and the list of food on their menu board. Seems impressive. They
seem to serve a wide variety of things. Various kinds of fried rice and noodles (including the ubiquitous 'Phad Thai'). Plain rice with stir-fried dishes. Many variations on noodles (including beef noodles).

I saw that they have Olive Rice. I remembered the nice one that my boss had when we dined at a Thai restaurant recently. Also the one served at Magic Wok. So I gave it a shot. My colleagues had the Seafood Fried Rice and Seafood Fried 'Kway Teow'.

The lady taking our orders spoke simple English and wrote down the orders in Thai scripts. And she also called out our order in Thai, to this middle-aged lady manning the kitchen. Hmm... it all just seem to scream,

The lady in the kitchen was furiously frying away in her wok. When my order was finally ready, I was somewhat crestfallen to see that my Olive Rice turned out to be a simple heap of purplish
rice on the plate. I looked at the display picture with its garnishes and condiments on the side. Such a stark contrast. Same goes for my friends' orders. But it smelt good, though.

The condiments that they have are plus points. There was a container full off cut 'chili padi' soaked in light soy sauce (maybe even fish sauce). And another container with potent-looking 'sambal belacan' (chilli pounded with fermented shrimp paste). Potent not because of the chili, but the more stinky type of shrimp paste used, which is popular among the Thais

Taste-wise, it was pretty good, actually. Taste almost... homely. Like how one's mum prepares food. No effort at presentation but more passionate about how it taste. I almost feel bad about criticising the plain outlook in the first place.

Pineapple fried rice

Came back here again another time and I made the same mistake of choosing my order from the pictures on display. That, naturally kept my hopes high with regards to how it'll look like on the plate.

Not surprisingly, I ended up disappointed.

But the aroma perk me up somewhat. Plus the fact that they didn't forget the chicken floss. And of course, unlike the presentation, the taste didn't disappoint. :)

Yam Mamuang

I can't resist ordering this green mango salad. I'd much prefer the 'Som Tham' (green papaya salad) but it might not appeal to all, since I intend to share.

There's a right amount of tart but it could be a lil' less sweet and a bit more salty (can't believe I'm saying this!). Otherwise it's nice. Kinda' missing the dried shrimps usually found it those 'Som Tham' though.

After all that, will I be coming back here again? Why not? There are more items to check out. Especially their noodles and stuff.

So there. I've since decided not to expect too much from a neighbourhood food stall. If they really do prepare things the way it's done in restaurants, it would have been such a bonus! Otherwise, it should have been fine. Expectations should be kept at a realistic level, as I've learnt.

Thai-Muslim Food (that's what is on their signage)
Yummy Food Point
Blk 301, Ubi Ave 1

Monday, June 27, 2011

BBQ w/ friends

It all started when one of my poly mates initiated a pretty innocuous WhatsApp chat session with his other 3 friends. He had shown a pic of a bus stop near our former school and asked, "Guess which bus stop this is?"

That phrase automatically became the title of our chat.

2 of my mates and I, we started chatting about the general elections and the good ol' days. Somehow the conversation eventually strayed to the topic of having a BBQ/cookout amongst ourselves. How we even get there... beats me!

Another mate was silent throughout. We assumed him to be asleep since he worked the night shift. True enough. He woke up, read the chat messages and barged in with, "Bloody hell.. How did a topic about 'which bus-stop this is' ended up to planning for a cook-out session?!!!"

Pardon his English, there. Well apparently, to cut the story short, one of my fren's dad had an apartment at Melville Park, a condominium estate at Simei.

Exactly 5 years ago, right after our 1st ever voting session, we had a cook-out at that very apartment. The 3 ladies in attendance had been his girlfriend, her cousin & myself and I'm proud to say that we weren't the ones cooking. In fact, I have the entry right HERE.

Now, that apartment has been sold and my mate was quick to book a BBQ pit there before we lose any access to it. For memories sake, we shall have a BBQ there one last time.

Sauces, cheese & dips

My friends and I, we always try to avoid being 'mainstream' and sought to try out something… a lil' different. Mr planner right there had confidently expressed his interest for the food that night to carry a 'Mediteranean' theme.

I was baffled. Mediterranean + BBQ = ?? I racked my brain to recall any episodes from "Boy Meets Grill" & Robert Rainford's "Licence to Grill" for any ideas along that theme…

Meh. later on, I stumbled upon pictures of quesadillas & enchiladas and an idea struck me… Mexican! I envisioned guacamole, sour cream & lotsa cheese. Salsa, paprika etc. NOW we're talking.

I remember seeing some fresh guacamole In the chillers of Cold Storage. That afternoon, I made a mad dash there while my son was taking his siesta.

Mesclun salad w/ alfalfa sprouts

I'm always so drawn to the chiller where these salads are. I remembered that my pals love their greens and Cold Storage was selling this pack at 1/2 price so I grabbed a couple of these. And alfalfa sprouts. I love, LOVE, love those.

I remember how I'm supposed to avoid that during my pregnancy and I was feeling miserable because of that.

Cheese dawgs

Charred hot dogs with even hotter cheese bursting inside your mouth when you bite… Nice.

More meats

Another mate of mine, he said that he wanna MAKE burgers la. So I envisioned him mixing minced meat with chopped onions, egg and bread crumbs.

But then I saw these pale and thin looking patties on the grill... "Are these even HOMEMADE?!" That's when I saw the empty boxes of Farmland chicken burgers... -___-

The reddish meats behind those burgers are Zac's beef bacon which reminds me a lot like beef pastrami. It's really nice! You can try this: Blanch some asparagus, then drizzle some olive oil, mix with garlic, salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice. Then wrap these pastrami around those spears of asparagus and toss them onto the grill.

Yes, a bit like the Japanese Yakitori style.

Chips and dips

I was so looking forward to these! I gotta say that the guacamole is my ultimate muse. I just think of it and all the ideas come rolling. I miss having real nachos (not just your typical nachos & cheese at the cinemas). I got the plain corn tortilla chips and sought out the accompanying dips like guacamole (spicy & mild), medium-heat salsa, cheese sauce, and sour cream.

My other pal later came by with a large bag of Kettle potato chips (theirs are the best!).

The ultimate buurger (almost)

My (almost) dream burger creation. If only there's runny sunny-side -up egg. And preferably home-made beef patty. Heh.

Burger with melted smokey BBQ cheese, beef bacon, grilled portobello mushroom, sour cream (or even better, aioli), salsa, guacamole, mesclun salad and alfalfa sprouts.

Om, nom, nom, nom. Insert nacho chips for added crunch (and this was before the BK nacho burgers promo, ok?).

Baked potato

I initially wanted baked potatoes but eventually discard the idea because there ain't that many of us and it'll be too filling. But they bought these spuds anyway.

Cut them open, slather with butter and wrapped with foil. They initially put these on the grill, can you believe it? Immediately told them to put those amongst the coals or we gotta wait till the cows some home before they're cooked through.

When they're done, I heaped on dollops of sour cream, salsa and cheese sauce on it. Even better if I were to put some bits of beef bacon but I think those ran out by then.


Another mate's ingenious idea. Cut a banana, break some pieces of Cadbury chocolate and put a handful of marshmallows onto a sheet of foil. Cover and put on the grill.

My mate here was the impatient sort so he actually toss them directly into the coals. -___-

Naturally, he almost forgot about it…

By the time he remembered… You should see him scrambling. He gingerly held the edge (hot off the coals, remember?) and as he peeled open the foil, a delicious scent wafted out. The aroma of cooked bananas, sweet marshmallow and… burnt chocolate. Hahahah!

Thankfully only the bottom layer was burnt. I had a taste. Swashbuckling! Awesome schtuff! Superb lah! Eventually sat down and shared this with him. Heh.

Even my toddler joined in. He loved it so much that he kept licking his plastic fork, leaving marshmallow-chocolate streaks from his nose down to his chin. Hee..

2nd batch

We can't get enough of that sugar-bomb so we made another batch. This time, I asked that we put ON the grill instead. And roll the lid down for more even (and faster) cooking.

However, my son soon became sleepy and start to turn up the crank. As I packed, I asked to have a taste of this new batch before going off.

The chocolate weren't burnt (thankfully) and were evenly melted but the marshmallows could do with more time over the heat. The bananas weren't as mushy but I prefer it to be softer. I scooped up all the gooey parts and told them to leave it over the fire for a bit more time.



T'was a great night. I don't mind another one! I'll plan and cook, maybe??

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Family Day @ J's Wok & Grill

Hubby's side of the family held their annual family day here. Previous event held here was for the family matriarch's 69th birthday, last July.

You can read about it HERE & HERE (2 parts).

Finger foods

Top: Breaded fish fingers (real fish fillet).
Mid: Vegetable 'popiah' (spring rolls).
Bottom: Deep-fried 'sotong' (squid/cuttlefish) balls. I wonders what brand of 'sotong' ball they use. Reminds me a lot like the OCK ones. Nicer, in fact.

This set was a hit with the kids.

Western salad

I think they were a tad ..erm.. generous with the dressing. Somehow, I much prefer the ones I had last year, though.

Eastern salad

Eastern = Indonesian = Javanese = Gado-gado, la!

Fried tofu & tempe + boiled potato & rice cakes + blanched cabbages & french beans + cucumber. Covered with spiced peanut sauce and topped with crackers.

A better variation than last year's simple 'lalab/ulam kampung' (village greens).

(L) Cheng Tng & (R) Sago Gula Melaka

Now on to the desserts. The 'cheng tng' was similar to the one from last year. The sago was something new. Sago beads floating in diluted coconut milk that's sweetened with palm sugar.

Can't have too much of this. Too cloying.

Brownies & chocolate mousse cake

The brownie was a little too dense and slightly dry. Taste-wise, it's alright.

The chocolate mousse cake (or maybe it's truffle cake… I dunno)… it's really nice..!

Of course, there are more food than just those posted here. Akin to the one we had last year, the amount of dishes are similar, just that we have some change on the choices.

The carbs are similar - white rice, fried rice & friend mee. Instead of Tom Yam soup, this year, we had shark's fin soup (mock fins, I hope). I can't really recall most of others - just butter prawns, dry-chili chicken, black pepper beef and sweet-sour fish fillets.

Some were a hit-and-miss case. I just feel like the food served last year fared way better.

I wonder where the next annual family gathering will be held…

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bistro Godiva

On our 2nd (and also last) day in Batam, we ventured to 2 different malls, namely the BSC & the Harbour Bay Mall (adjacent to the Batam Centre ferry terminal).

I remember the 1st time I saw this Bistro Godiva branch at Nagoya Hill Mall, my SIL and I actually took a dig at their name. "Godiva, eh? In Singapore sure 'kena' sue. Let's see if they are selling anything chocolate.."

That was the Bistro Godiva outlet on the top floor. Then I discovered another one in the same mall, but on the ground floor. Hmm... They must be quite an established name. I also saw a branch at BSC Mall. And of course, another one at the prominent Harbour Bay Mall. They sure are everywhere! I'm impressed, actually. Wonder if the food is any good…

**so sorry that the pic quality is really crappy. Poor lighting plus the fact that my camera battery ran low so I used the phone instead.

Hungry faces

Seems like we almost always end up being really ravenous by the time we (finally) decide to eat.

Their speciality…

…which we didn't try, unfortunately.

I was initially apprehensive as to what kind of food they'll be serving. This is after all, more of a coffee place, right?


There's quite a variety of food items, actually. From western favourites such as steaks, fried seafood & fried chicken, to fried noodles & rice, white rice with varieties of dishes and Indonesian favourites like 'Soto' (spiced chicken soup), 'Sup Buntut' (oxtail soup) & 'Sup Ayam' (clear chicken soup).

Watermelon Juice

Got myself the juice instead cos' I was really thirsty! This is real fruit juice, by the way.

My hubby got this honeydew juice which is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. That was pretty nice. But I think they also added a bit of that green honeydew-flavoured syrup stuff so it got sweet at some parts.

Avocado Juice

My MIL's prennial favourite. She ordered this everytime. I wonder why she browse the beverages menu, even.

That was my niece having a go at her grandma's juice.

The other nieces got the Apple Juice & Banana Smoothie.

Avocado Mocha

There was a picture of this on the poster outside and it had looked really tempting. I guess my BIL was enticed by that.

At the bottom was real avocado juice. It is then topped with ice-blended mocha. Seems like a good combo, eh? This would have been great on a hot weather.

My SIL, meanwhile, got herself a glass of Tropical Tea, a fruit-flavoured iced tea with bits of canned fruit cocktail.

Sup Buntut

I can't resist ordering this when I saw it on the menu. This is an Indonesian specialty and I don't wanna blow my chance of having this while on Indonesian soil (so cliche, I know).

Turns out to be a good choice. This soup taste great! I don't even bother with the calamansi/lime that's served on the side because I don't wanna affect the taste that I was comfortable with. The oxtail meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the soup taste really refreshing. Even my MIL, who ordered Mi Goreng, can't resist having a sip every now and then.

'Pempek' campur

Ok, here's some explaination....

'Pempek' is actually short for 'empek-empek', which originate from Palembang, South Sumatra. This is actually something akin to a fish cake, just that the fish meat is mixed with tapioca flour instead, thus making it more chewy.

The plate above is a mix of 2 different variations, namely Pempek Lenjer & Pempek Telur or Pempek 'Kapal Selam' (submarine). Pempek 'Lenjer' is simply fish meat rolled into a long, cylindrical piece and cut into 1-inch bits, prior to frying. The 'submarine' meanwhile, is where the fish meat is wrapped around a whole, boiled egg and then fried.

The sauce to me, taste a lot like the one used for 'tahu goreng' (Indonesian fried tofu dish), except that it has a more watery consistency and there's no peanut. Those green cubes in the picture are cucumber pieces. Very, very yummy. And spicy.

Fried chicken set

No one ordered this, actually. The server asked if we have their membership. We asked her what the deal was. She told us that with the membership, we can get this set for a mere Rp10,000. That's not even $2!

My BIL signed up on the spot.

Freshly fried chicken, what's there not to like? Although we were pretty full after our individual choices, we just can't resist this!

A nice meal to end the trip, before we rush off to catch the return ferry back to SG…

PS: My MIL asked, 1/2way through our meal, "Eh, have you taken pictures of all the food?" Apparently, she's gotten used to my weird habit. But it's a tad embarrassing when someone asked a question like that, uh?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Soto Lamongan Cik Sam

Just came back from a short 2D1N getaway to Batam over the weekend, where we saw ourselves venturing through 3 of their popular malls. No mean feat!

Went to the Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall on the 1st day.

I don't care much for the shopping but I gotta tell you that this mall is quite the food haven. They have quite a number of fast food outlets like Pizza Hut, A&W, KFC, BFC (Best Fried Chicken - I thought the 'B' stood for Batam… heh).

The top floor has this rather exclusive-looking cinema and more restaurants. And most of the coffee-joints seem to be located here. Like Coffee Town, New Town Coffee (there's 'Old Town' Coffee from M'sia, rite??) and Godiva Coffee.

And then there's the Food Street on the ground level were there's this long stretch that is flanked by small eateries on both sides (alfresco dining). When we were there, all tired and hungry, we got so muddled by the too-many choices that we eventually can't decide.

My SIL eventually let on that she rather eat in air-conditioned comfort. And so we went back up to the top-level. As soon as we stepped out of the lift, we went into the 1st restaurant we saw… Soto Lamongan Cik Sam (yes, that's the restaurant's actual name!).

Soto 'Lamongan'

Their namesake and of course, their specialty.

Lamongan is actually a district in East Java and this type of Soto originates from there, I guess. Given that this is the specialty here, you can see the piping hot chicken soup being ladled out of this big earthen pot, in full view of everyone. Definitely a big draw, I tell you!

Considering that we were here late that evening, the soup has become somewhat concentrated with all the flavours that goes in; since it was simmered continuously throughout the day. Very robust chicken flavour, with just the right amount of spices.

There's shredded chicken meat, vermicelli and hard-boiled egg inside. This is served with a plate of white rice. Worth ordering.

Ayam Penyet

My hubby just can't do without his chicken.

I'm not surprised if he's actually disappointed to see that the chicken here ain't as fleshy as its counterparts in Singapore. Reminded me of 'ayam kampung' (free-range chicken), actually. Another thing is that they don't really marinated the chicken much, prior to frying. Taste just like your regular, home-made fried chicken.

But it's served piping hot and crispy. And that, to me, is good enough.

Belut Penyet

Belut, otherwise known as eel. Before you go on to think of those moray eels in the sea… well, let me tell you. This is the freshwater kind, usually found in streams & riversides or even the shallow tributaries at paddy fields. And given the portion on that plate, my guess is that this is the young kind (aka on the small side).

I can't help ordering something that is out of the ordinary (or exotic, as you may call it). It's either this or the 'Itik/Bebek Penyet' (duck) or the 'Puyuh Penyet' (quail).

The small eel is cut into small, bite-sized pieces before being deep fried. Thankfully, this one here wasn't fishy, as the norm with most freshwater fish. Just watch out for the triangular, spinal bones which can be pretty sharp.

I offered some to the others and all gave this mortified look and declined. Except my hubby's 12 year-old niece who was eager to try out something new (you know, at that age). "I love those eels at the Japanese restaurant!"

I gave her a boneless piece. Before long, she asked for another (dang, the portion is only so much!). But I like to see that gastronomically, she's the adventurous sort; just like myself ;P

Ayam, Bakso & Ikan Bandeng Penyet

Other orders were the 'Bakso' (beef balls) Penyet and 'Ikan Bandeng' Penyet. Not surprisingly, the latter was ordered by the said niece.

For the unknown, 'Ikan Bandeng' is actually a species of fish that's also known as 'chanos chanos'. This dish originate in Central Java. I'm not sure which version is the one that's served at this restaurant but there are those pre-marinated ones that's individually vacuum-packed and sold frozen. There are many brands and some of them sold the fish together with some chili sauce. The better (and popular ones) are more pricey than others.

My first taste of this was when my grandma came back from central Java and gave us some. I was hooked! But my grandma didn't buy much because they are pretty expensive, actually. Later on, my boss's rich Indonesian client bought them by the boxes and distributed those to her Singaporean contacts and my boss was lucky enough to get her hands on a whole box of those. Of course, she generously shared them with us.

My mum made 'pepes' with some of those. Yums!

The thing about this fish is that they have pretty fine bones that are a hassle to remove. So these marinated ones are almost like canned sardines, the bones are made softer by the marination thus we can do away with any removal. Either that or the fish is cooked by the 'presto' method where it's steamed over high heat to soften the bones, prior to frying.

Each portion of the 'penyet' dish comes with a slab of fried tofu & 'tempe', a wedge of raw cabbage, a couple slices of cucumber and a sprig of 'daun kemangi' (lemon basil). And not forgetting the 'sambal belacan' (chili with fermented prawn paste).

One thing for sure, their 'sambal' sure pack some punch. Its prowess was made more evident by the sight of the numerous 'Teh Sosro' (a popular brand of jasmine tea drink) bottles on our table…

So there's our 1st food foray at Batam.

PS: If you wanna order the quail, you might want to consider ordering another individual piece. I read reviews about that portion being on the small side, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Instagram-ed - Japanese snacks

I'll be lying if I say that I wasn't somewhat hooked on this photography app with some social networking on the side.

The numerous options to edit your pics with tilt-shift & vignette, give the the lomo, vintage or stylish b/w effect to photos… makes me delirious!

What more, we can also connect with like-minded souls out there who are similarly IG-happy. Almost like tumblr, just that we know that the photos we publish are our own…

…I like!

And to kick-start this series, I present you my obsession - Japanese snacks!

Japanese wafer biscuits (flavoured)

What I mean by flavoured is not the 'chocolate & strawberry' kind. These flavours here are the savoury sort.

(clockwise from top-left) There's shrimp, squid, crab & seaweed. And believe me, they sure taste like the real deal!

And the thin wafers are so crisp & melt-in-the-mouth.…

These and the next 2 items were purchased by my boss, from her client's shop at ION Orchard. Apparently, they import authentic Japanese goodies like these and they sure don't come cheap. Not to mention, the fact that these are packed in boxes which are wrapped really nicely like a gift (just like in Japan).

Sakura biscuit

During the time when she bought this, it was right smack during the Sakura blooming season. My tumblr was flooded with Sakura photos taken by my contacts in Japan. I was a bit put-off by the idea that this will carry the taste of those flowers that almost clouded my sight as I scrolled thru' my tumblr dashboard.

However, I ended up being pretty surprised by my first bite. The biscuit has the taste and texture of 'langue de chat' (cat's tongue biscuit), albeit crispier. And whatever flavour the cream in between has, it is mild. Well, I sure have no idea what Sakura really taste like but if it does taste like that, I dare say that it's pretty nice!

Japanese wafer biscuit (plain)

This may be a plain wafer biscuit. But it is so crisp and delish that this has got to be THE plain wafer biscuit. Period.

Choco crisp pie

Bought this from a vendor who set up a temporary stall at the atrium of the nearby Starhub Green. Much to my delight, they specialise in Japanese snacks & goodies.

I have to admit that this one here is pretty common, especially at ESSO-NTUC marts etc. but I finally gave in and bought it that day because I want to stock-up the office pantry with something interesting.

This is basically crushed cornflakes that's chocolate-coated. Not that very different from the ones I used to make for Hari Raya.

Mini Oreo bars

Bought this at the same time as the Choco Crisp Pie above. The vendor was telling me that this was one of the fast-selling item then. I got curious and realise that I've never really seen this before. And the whole packaging is in Japanese.

Authentic, much? Of course I bought it.

There are 3 different flavours inside. Chocolate, green-tea (matcha) & white chocolate. I first tried the chocolate one and was blown away. Right then, I already regret buying only 1 packet of these.

As a lover of Oreo biscuits, I dare say that this is da bomb! The crunchy center is actually made of large morsels of the famous dark biscuits and it's coated with a thin layer of milk chocolate outside. Not that sweet and it carried the full-bodied taste of Oreo biscuits!

The green tea version somehow has a pretty robust 'matcha' flavour mixed in with the biscuit bits and is similarly coated with milk chocolate.

And last one has the same Oreo morsels in the middle but is coated with white chocolate and has drizzles of milk chocolate on top. Yums!

Beard Papa Cream Puff

I've been wanting this for the longest time. The last time I had this was when I was at the basement of VivoCity. As soon as I saw their signage, I subconsciously head for the stall; leaving my frustrated hubby to follow from behind...

Anyway, I've never bothered to head to town just for this (nearest is in Bugis). Recently, I discovered that The Icing Room also served something similar (there's a branch at Tamp 1) but there's something lacking in their version. Maybe because the cream wasn't freshly piped into the puff, that's why.

My boss was the one who introduced me to this and I've never looked back ever since.

And finally, few days back, she came in with a box of these. But it was sometime after they were bought so the cream was almost lukewarm, thus tasting slightly sweeter that what I preferred. But it's the real stuff, and that's what mattered.


And there you go, the various Japanese snacks in my hit-list. Naturally, there's more that wasn't mentioned, like those cute Bourbon Petit cookies… Well, let's save that for another post, shall we?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

VivItalia @ Courts Megastore pt due

Ok, now on to the food.....

Fried Calamari (actual serving portion)

Ok, I made the mistake of snapping this pic with my phone instead of the camera.

Pic quality leaves much to be desired so I'll just add a small one here to give an idea how the portion look like.

Fried Calamari

Upon ordering this, I had envisioned fresh squid rings tossed in flour before being deep-fried. Turns out to be some ready-made ones instead.

I kinda like the coleslaw in the centre though. Finely minced cabbage & carrots there.

Chicken Toast/'Reeyet'

We were curious as to what this was. I was wondering why anyone would want to make a big deal out of toasts. So we asked and he explained enthusiastically in his heavily-accented English.

Truth to be told, I managed to catch only a handful of what was said but ordered one anyway. Chose the 'Shrimp Aioli' version. However, they later came back to say they ran out of it and offered the chicken version instead.

When it arrived, I find that it looked pretty familiar, somewhat akin to the thick toasts from Streats HK Cafe. A thick slice of bread that's toasted and topped with chicken-cream mix. Reminds me a bit of Delifrance, too.

But it's pleasant, nonetheless. Simple and nice.

Creamy chicken pasta (actual serving portion)

Yes, yes.. The above pic was taken with the phone camera.

What's a meal at an Italian restaurant without trying the pasta, right? Especially when I saw this line:
"...To serve you the best, we use the Number One pasta in Italia: Barilla penne, spaghetti, and linguine..."

Whoa! I like.

Creamy chicken pasta

My bro (the birthday boy), can never get enough of cream-based pastas. Even better if there's chicken in it.

Oh, see the specks of black pepper above? Well, we asked for black pepper and this is what they gave us...

Black pepper...

Unless it's meant to make the dining experience more unique, I guess they should really start investing in pepper shakers.

Original Lasagna

Wow, this has got to be the first time that I had lasagna served to me in a little 'cocotte' (a claypot, actually) that's placed on a wooden board. Straight out of the oven, this is very, very hot (learnt it the hard way)!

Original Lasagna (closer look)

Pardon me for displaying another shot of this but I was so impressed by the presentation that I just gotta post another pic of this.

Looks good, doesn't it?

Check out that layer of bubbling, melted cheese with the crispy parmesan crust on top. This is unlike any lasagna that I've had before. Basically lotsa' tomato sauce and cheese. Not much of the flat & broad pasta. Maybe that's why it's called 'Original' Lasagna. Back to basics, perhaps?

Well, I dunno for sure. But it sure is delish!

Now, on to the pizzas!

As extracted from their Facebook page:
"...Fresh and authentic Pizzas, cooked in our traditional oven directly imported from Italy.."

That pizza dough is the thin kind, also known as 'skinny'. Due to the flimsy nature of the dough, toppings are kept to a minimum. So don't expect the same sort of stuff that you can get from Pizza Hut, Canadian etc.

And they are served on wooden boards that's not unlike the chopping boards that your mum has in her kitchen.

Creamy chicken pizza

I insist on ordering different pizzas with both cream and tomato base. If I'm not wrong, this might be the only one with cream base?
For all I know, they may jolly well use the same sauce as the pasta.

Whatever it is, this taste oh-so-good! It is really crispy around the edges. I pick one up and fold them in slightly to keep the hot, goo-ey cheese in and take a bite. Fwah!

'Mamarita' pizza

My mum's choice. She wanna see how a basic pizza taste like. Simply tomato base & cheese.

All I can say is.... Yum!

'Peperonatta' pizza

Actually, we only ordered 2 pizzas. But they made some blunder with the orders or something and they apologetically offered us a free pizza. How can we refuse?

When this was being made, we ask amongst ourselves, "Eh, so which pizza is he making for us??" So we sit and wait to be surprised.

When it arrived, we stared at it and looked at one another. No one had any idea, actually. So we called after the pizza guy and ask, "Sorry, but what pizza is this?"

He replied, "Oh, it's 'Peperonatta'!" Pepperoni pizza. Topped with, well maybe you can guess it right- tomato base, pepperoni & cheese.

Funnily enough, in Italian cuisine, 'peperonata' refers to a vegetable dish of stewed peppers, tomato & onion. Hmm...

They have over 12 different types of pizza if you wanna try, including one 'localised' version called, "Laksa Gila Gila." No points for guessing what flavour that is...

I had almost wanted to order a slice of cake or two from the display, to add to a more festive birthday celebration but after that last pizza, all of us surrendered. No more belly room for anything else.

All in all, I can say that their food is pretty nice and almost authentic. Well, having 2 Italian guys there do help with the authenticity, too.

This place is very suitable for families (the playground can attest to that). Food portion ain't that big and price-wise, it hang around the 'quite affordable' range. Not that comparable to 'Badoque', which is a more chic, upscale and chillax with menu that's more refined.

I checked my receipt and saw that they charge only the 7% GST. No service charge. All in all it cost me almost $90.

PS: Have I mentioned that today is their Grand Opening? Head there to enjoy their opening promos!

50 Tampines North Drive 2,
Inside Courts Megastore, Level 2,

VivItalia @ Courts Megastore pt uno

"Authentic and Fresh Italian Food with Asian Twist" (as extracted from their FB page).

My bro had casually told me about this new Halal Italian restaurant located at Courts Megastore. Apparently, his friend who worked there informed him about it. Last I recall, there was a restaurant there, called 'The Box Bistro'. I guess it was replaced?

It's nice to hear of yet another Halal restaurant opening. And an Italian one at that. Okay, so this ain't exactly the first one that's not a pizza joint (the other one is called 'Badoque' at Simpang Bedok). And so I asked my bro for the name of this new place cos' I wanna do a search online.

He had a hard time recalling before finally declaring, "Ahh..! BEEF Italia!"

O__o… 'Beef' Italia? What kind of restaurant would want to call itself, 'beef'?! And so began my keen search based on italia + halal + restaurant + courts megastore. And duly came up with VivItalia. 'VIV' la, not 'beef'!

Birthday 'boy' at the entrance

Anyway come his birthday, before we start irritating one another with questions like.. "Where to eat…?" I decide to just settle for this place.

True enough, Vivitalia took over the premise from The Box Bistro, alright. But then again, their logo says, "VivItalia.... By The Box Bistro". Hmm...

The interior looks almost similar, save for the dining area area near the entrance, which has been converted into an open-concept baking area - where the pizza oven is. You can see your pizzas being made, from where you are seated.

We were greeted by a Caucasian fella' who spoke with an very obvious Italian accent. You know, like the guy on the 'Pasta Fresca Salvatore' commercial? And later on, my order was taken by another guy who looks similar to the first one. Yes, Italian accent, likewise. Siblings, I suppose.

As it turns out, we came 2 days before their grand opening on 2nd June. So it's not surprising to see that they have some (major) teething issues. Right then, they were still interviewing new staff and the ones there were pretty clueless. Seeing that they're still new, I guess I won't comment on the service. Maybe save that fir when I come back here again, when they're fully up and running.

Drinks Menu

Check out their Opening Promo! One-for-one! Today!

And check out the weekend promo for the Diabolo!

Food Menu

The bottom right corner was somewhat reminiscent of The Box Bistro alright. Local Malay food at somewhat exorbitant prices. Maybe for the 'makcik/pakcik' with traditional tastebuds...

And a decent variety of pizza, pasta, fish & chips, starters, toast/'reeyet' (whatever that is), salads etc. Even kids portions.

Indoor playground

I'm glad to say that they've retained the existing indoor playground that can easily keep the kids occupied. This is the kind of playground that's padded/netted for extra safety.

And yeah, that's my lil' one in action...


Safety nets

Mixed Berry & Blueberry 'Diabolos'

I have no idea why this drink is named after some juggling prop but it's actually their idea of giving the italian soda a fancy name.

From what the guy explained, the diabolo is a concoction of 7-up, soda water and syrup. Can try at home. Cos' this drink is very, very refreshing. My mum love it so much she finished it before most of the food arrived.

She had the mixed berry while my dad settled for the blueberry.

Banana Smoothie & Frosty Mint Diabolo

Birthday boy chose the smoothie while myself, the perennial lover of all flavours with mint, chose the super refreshing 'frosted mint'.

I wonder what's the different between 'mint' and 'frosted mint'?

I realise there are too many pics so I decide to split this topic into 2 parts. Part due coming soon!