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Moved! : Relocated To Nigel · Eats

A big HELLO to all my readers and subscribers who have been with me for a few months!

It's official, I've moved to - Nigel · Eats and will be staying there for a long time to come! I've been thinking of a new site because gustatory explorer is a mouthful to say and remember and yes, Nigel Eats sounds much better.

With this move (pun unintended), I'll also be creating a facebook page and printing namecards for Nigel Eats too, so stay excited and tuned to my new site! I'll get all these done probably soon after my O lvls. (:

See you all around!
God bless,

Graces Court Vegetarian Restaurant: Meatless or Tasteless?

The word 'vegetarian' might not appeal to many, especially the carnivores amongst us or omnivores whose diets consist more of meat. Personally, and honestly, I prefer to acquire my daily intake of lean protein mainly from poultry, not from legumes, and mock meat and all had always been associated with flour and more flour, to me. 

I'm not an avid vegetarian and in fact, this was my first time I had a vegetarian dinner because my dad's friend was having a birthday celebration. This dinner was an eye opener to me, I felt. It widened up my narrow mindset and corrected my misconceptions regarding vegetarianism. How? You may ask, read on to find out.

 Graces Court Vegetarian Restaurant is, I heard, famous among vegetarians here and situating itself at Hotel Royal @ Queens makes dining here seem even more refined.

The appetizer was a platter of visually authentic dishes, such as the sausages, chicken and the five spice meat roll. You'll be surprised, some of them tastes amazingly identical to the real deal as well!

The sausages, though not having that intense meatiness of the real sausages, did well and tasted very close to the actual ones. This goes for the five spice meat roll as well.

Among the six different appetizer, I liked the five spice meat roll the best. Not only because it tasted like the actual thing itself but it had a balanced taste although I couldn't make out what was in them.

The Mock Lemon Chicken was served hidden below a mountain of keropok.

The lemon sauce was too sweet and mock chicken was on the bland side. Loved the keropoks that had speckles of spices in them, but not the mock chicken. Speaking of which, I wondered what the keropoks are made of? (it's a vegetarian dinner - no meat, no fish)

We had a pumpkin mock shark fin soup as well. It was interesting to see a bowl of orangey yellow bowl of shark fin soup and it was okay, with tofu skin substituting shark fins and a generous amount of straw mushrooms, a little on the strachy side though.

This dish is as real and as good as it looks. I felt that this dish of mushrooms and broccoli was probably the best dish for the night. The broccolis were cooked just right, resulting in tender stalks and delightful mouthfuls.

 This was mock ham/luncheon meat with a surprise cube of pineapple placed in the middle. This surprisingly has the meaty taste in it and was delectable.

  This was... did you guess it? Teochew Style Steamed Pomfret, a black one I was presume.

I wouldn't have known if I hadn't read the menu initially. I was anticipating what it would look like. It didn't have the looks, I agree, but it had taste. This tasted 70% similar to the real deal I dare to say.

The greenish black surface is actually layers of seaweed containing a sponge-like ingredient, I don't know what it is made of, but it certainly amazed me.

Last dish of the night, a dessert of course. Any fans of this heavy teochew dessert would be able to tell you what it is with this picture alone.

Yes, it was Orh Nee, and fans of it would surely be able to tell by the looks of gingko nuts studded onto the yam paste. I know of people who hate this but I absolutely love this. Haha, hi-fives to other fans of orh nee.

The Orh Nee was not as smooth as I picture it would be and they used artificial coconut milk which was diluted and thus gave this dish hefty discount. Worth a try, but certainly not the best.

This vegetarian dinner changed my mindset towards vegetarian food - that a lot of flour is being used and it was not tasty - and it was an eating adventure certainly. Though many of the dishes consisted of yellow beans or it products, I quite enjoyed the dinner and would recommend those wanting to try vegetarian food to come here and give it a go. Enjoy.

Graces Court Vegetarian Restaurant

Hotel Royal @ Queens
12 Queen Street #02-03 
Singapore 188553
Tel: 62385085 Fax: 62385302

Hong Kong Street Chun Kee Restaurant: The Real Deal?

Hong Kong Street Restaurant or 香港街珍记 may ring a bell to those who frequent tze char stalls cum restaurants. You might have seen it at Novena, or Bukit Timah, or maybe even Changi, but today I'm introducing the one at Ang Mo Kio.

Hmm? And you thought they are were all under one man's monopoly. Wrong. I'm uncertain as to who's the real founder of the chain of Hong Kong Street Restaurants we have been seeing all around the island, but one thing's for sure, they are famous for their milky fish soup and other fish dishes.

The Sliced Fish with Spring Onion and Ginger certainly did not disappoint. The succulent slices of fishes were well fried with ginger and spring onion, resting on a pool of slightly thicken savoury gravy, it was lip-smacking good. Oh, and FYI, this type of fish said to be good for those who just had undergone any surgical operations as it helps the surgical wound to close up faster.

We ordered the Yam Ring Basket, which was chocked full of mushrooms, vegetables, prawns and topped with some cashew nuts. I have to admit, that although I wouldn't pay so much for a yam ring and mainly vegetables, but the yam ring was no doubt well-prepared. The yam paste, which was smooth and not cloying, does not leaving your mouth feeling very dry and it was fried to a nice and light crisp; Dipping it into sweet, stick sweet sauce was delightfully satisfying.

Unfortunately, the Claypot Tofu was disappointing. With vegetables, slices of yam, roasted pork and big square pieces of tofu all in a claypot, slathered with a starchy gravy, it didn't not exactly appeal to me or surprised me with it taste.
The famous 'Sam Lor Hor Fun' was the equally delicious as the Sliced Fish with Spring Onion and Ginger. Succulent slices of fishes was fried with hor fun and a generous amount of bean sprouts. The bean sprouts added a nice crunch to the overall texture of the dish and the hor fun had a nice subtle 'wok hei' taste to it.

In addition, we called for a plate of Sweet and Sour Pork too. It was good, but didn't come across as great to us.

Have you eaten at another Hong Kong Street Restaurant and would love to share your views? Or do you know the real story behind the chain of Hong Kong Street Restaurants that are popping up all around the island? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below, thank you.  

Hong Kong Chun Kee Street Resturant
Blk 151, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5 
#01-3030, (S) 560157
Opening Hours: 11am - 2pm, 5pm - 11pm.

Sakura International Buffet @ Clementi Woods Park

Buffets are well loved by many, especially Singaporeans, with the dining concept of free flow of food and beverages. At Sakaru International Buffet Restaurant, they cater specifically to the buffet crowd.

I've been to Sakura Restaurant once, a few years back that is, and in my vague recollect, it was decent. This time around at Sakura, there were a lot of hit and misses. Too many, in fact.

Trays of cooked food welcome you as you step foot into the restaurant. Fried rice and noodles are the staples here, accompanied by various meat and vegetables cooked with a variety of methods.

(Clockwise) Siew Mai, Mushrooms, Teriyaki Chicken, Beef
The teriyaki chicken was tasty and flavourful - not too tough chicken meat, teriyaki flavors and sesame seeds strewn on top on it. The beef, on the other hand, was another story, it was tough and rubbery.

The siew mai's skin was too thick, resulting in a floury taste in your mouth as you chewed on it. The mushrooms were alright, nothing too special.

The soft shell crab was off quality, far off from the real deal. However, the fish fillets, which I think are dory fillets, were not too bad. They are quite generous with the fish over here, steaming the fillets in a light soy sauce gravy, hong kong style, and serving them in whole fillets in a tray. The refills here are a little slow though.
The dining area was separately into many sections, and in fact two floors to be exact. Here at the fried section, they offer many deep fried sides.
At the local delights area, I tried the steamed chicken and the fried tau pok and egg. The chicken was too tough and cold while the tau pok, I felt, was too bland.
A grilling station is present as well, with selections such as salmon steak, steaks, skewered scallops, satays and etc. There will be cloth pegs on your table with your table no. on them, you can then use them to order these things as they're cooked a la minute.

The scallops were flavoursome, fleshy but a tad dry. The salmon steak was too thin and overcooked. You could hardly taste the actual salmon with the strong grilled taste on the outside, resulting in a tough surface as well.
The lotus bun is something worth recommending, I loved how smooth the paste was and the sweetness was just right.


Once you're done exploring with the first floor of the dining area, don't forget there's a second floor! The desserts and japanese foods are served up on the second floor. This concept of a second floor is rather weird I feel, and it isn't customer friendly because you might leave without knowing there's a second floor of food!

The sushis are of acceptable quality and quantity. You can find most of your common sushis here. The sashimi section do not come in second too, they have a wide selection of raw fishes, octopus and prawns.

 A chocolate fondue is found on the second floor as well. Good quality chocolate wasn't used here, disappointed, but I don't blame them.
A whole molten chocolate cake is for your taking here. The molten chocolate was average, enough only for a mild chocolate satisfaction.
I concluded lunch by trying one of these and they salvaged the lunch a little. Sweet surprise because I wasn't expecting much out of these jellies. They were very nice with the different fruit flavours in them, real fruit juice must have been incorporated to manufacture a taste so similar to the fruit itself. They were konnyaku jelly, my new favourites for jellies.

Overall, a wide array of food, drinks and desserts, however the quality of the food was lacking tremendously. I would have preferred quality over quantity.

How about you? Have you tried any Sakura outlets around the island too? Do leave a comment to let me know your views or experiences. Thank you.

Sakura International Buffet (Clementi)
Clementi Wood Park
93A Clementi Rd

Daily: 12pm - 2.30pm, 6pm -9.30pm
Tel: 6474 8197

Official Opening @ The Gallerie : Redefine A Food Court

Following the success of the Rasapura Masters at Marina Bay Sands, Koufu Pte Ltd, one of Singapore's most established food and beverage operators, officially opened The Gallerie on the 8th of September at Marina Square. The addition of The Gallerie will bring Koufu's count of establishments in the Marina Bay waterfront area up to three - Rasapura Masters, Dining Gallery and The Gallerie.
This new age food court will redefine your concept of a food court in Singapore. The Gallerie boast of a total floor area of est. 36,00 sq feet with a seating capacity of est. 889 people, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Gallerie has, 3 mini restaurants, 16 Boutique food stalls, 7 island stalls and 4 kiosks, a total of 29 tenents,  guaranteeing a gastronomical adventure.

I was honored to be invited to the opening of The Gallerie. It may not mean much to others, or seem interesting and exciting to others (yes I was very excited!), but it sure felt like Gustatory Explorer reached a certain milestone in food blogging, yes, I'm referring to invites. I will continue to put in the conscientious effort to churn out good posts, regardless or invites or not, because invites are just a bonus yea.(: 
 Patrons at The Gallerie would also be able to enjoy a parnomic view of the waterfront. An absolutely beautiful view, I would suppose, in the night when the waterfront is lit up. Especially during major events including the F1 Grand Prix. F1 Power Boat Race, National Day Parade, fireworks displays and many others. Yes, patrons at The Gallerie would be able to see all these on the respective event dates! Very cool indeed.

At the very beginning of event, before the official opening, there were numerous waitresses walking around serving guests with some items from the bakery. I asked this lady which was the nicest out of all, she kindly pointed to -and recommended- the green tea swiss roll, on the left side of the tray. It was indeed quite nice, with a mild green tea scent released in your mouth with every bite.

Oh and I met 2 more food bloggers on this trip! Very glad I did. They are Daniel of Daniel's Food Diary and Kai Yi of Lazy Foodies. Kai Yi was practically my food buddy during this event - we went to scour around for good food, taking turns to photograph our food and eat till we almost burst. Haha.

As the Mooncake Festival was just around the corner...

We were treated to Koufu's mooncakes too! The lotus paste mooncake was tasty, with the lotus paste not being overly thick nor sweet.

The Thunder Tea Rice was first dish I tasted in the food court that night. I was intrigued and it being something I haven't try, my curiosity was piqued. I bought the Thunder Tea set meal ($7) which comes with Hakka Tofu and a Basil Omelette. For the main dish, customers have a choice of white rice, brown rice or a house-made special brown rice vermicelli, which is then topped with ikan billis, longs beans, cabbage, pork floss, cubes of tau pok, kang kong and a spoonful of peanuts. The thunder tea is served separately in another bowl. 

The thunder tea rice is a hakka speciality which boasts of being very simple and healthy. First timers are recommended to try some of the tea before deciding how much to add to their main dish and mixing everything together. The tea is made from a blend of tea, basil and mint.

It's an acquired taste I would say, really. The blend of basil and mint was too strong for me. I personally ain't too used to the taste of mint which was very prominent in the tea, thus I would conclude that thunder tea rice isn't for me but it definitely wasn't bad either.

Custard Buns a.k.a Liu Sha Bao are available at the dim sum section in this food court. 'What? Really?' Yes they are, at the price of 3 for $3.60, at the dim sum section in The Gallerie.

Kai Yi spotted this, and being a lover of it, it was longer before we had a chance to taste one. I was excited to try after reading various description of how good a custard bun can get when its custard filling is runny, oozes out and according to Kai Yi, the best one she have had is from Victor's Kitchen at Sunshine Plaza and Taste Paradise. Where's your favourite custard bun from?

The Custard Bun brought me to heaven momentarily. I might not have tasted the best yet nor was the custard filling at its runniest but I was sold. One bite of it and the warm custard filling trickling down my throat. I was sold. It was so good. I love the fluffiness of the bun and the sweet-savouriness of the custard.

The steamed scallop topped shrimp dumplings (3 for $3.80) from the same dim sum stall was an entirely different story though. I feel that it's too expensive to pay $3.80 for 3 small shrimp dumplings which you could barely taste the scallops and there was some funny glutinous filling in the dumpling which tasted like starch. I would not recommend trying this.

Kai Yi and I tried the popiah at the food court as well. We were surprised to find the popiah stall selling a variety of popiah and one of them was salmon. The salmon filling were too little in my opinion and the popiah was too plain. I could only get a hint of the salmon inside the popiah, which resembles mayo tuna. Interesting concept, but definitely more room for improvement.

Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice opened their first outlet here in Marina Square after starting off as a chicken rice speciality shop and eventually evolving into a family restaurant along Thomson Road. This mini restaurant sells not just the Wee Nam Kee chicken rice but also their various Nanyang inspired dishes or simply their zi char dishes too.

Pao Xiang, the largest and most talked about bah kut teh restaurant chain in Kuala Lumpur, sets up its second outlet here at The Gallerie following its first outlet at NEX. Pao Xiang offers 18 different types of bak kut teh so for bak kut teh lovers, you can come here or NEX to try them if you're itnerested!

The Noodee Box by Lam's is a novelty thought up by Vicent, Mr Yap's son. Mr Yap, founder of Lam's Noodle House, who came up with the famous 'Lam's Abalone Noodle', has passed the baton on to his son after 40 years of passion for food and innovating unique flavours.

Noodles in a box originated from the West where they have chinese takeouts in boxes like these(above). Vincent, who just returned from Australia after graduating with a degree in psychology, decided to adapt this idea and try it out in Singapore.

The menu at the Noodee Box by Lam's isn't very complicated or fanciful with 4 vareity of noodles, a number of sides, one type of soup and a drink. 'That Green Drink' as it is named, it made by blending vegetable with their secret ingredients. It's a drink that will get your appetite going with it's distinct sweetness from the sour plum extract they use. Opps, did I just reveal one of their secret ingredients. Haha.

Vincent is a very friendly and nice guy. Kai Yi and I got a chance to Do-It-Ourselves a box of char siew noodles while Vincent patiently guided us along and explained to us the different steps. We tried the duck and char siew noodles but I'll not be posting them as the shots were too ugly to justify the noodles. The slices of duck were delicious and in each box of noodles, you'll get the ramen-kind of egg, where the egg yolk inside the hard boiled egg is still soft, thumbs up for this! The char siew is not the roasted kind that we're used to, it's pan seared instead but the pork was too gamey.

Vincent was very hospitable to treat us to an otah carrot cake too even though he knew we couldn't finish it but he just wanted us to have a taste of it. The carrot cake was pan fried to a crisp but I didn't get to really taste the otah inside. I liked the carrot cake on its own though, crispy and fragrant after being pan fried with margarine.

Tofu Mania is the third and last mini restaurant at The Gallerie. It is a Korean restaurant in New Zealand which ventured into Singapore, serving up healthy offering of popular Korean fares. The Bibimbab, which is extremely popular in Korea, was nothing special to shout about here.

They offer Korean Fried Rice here at this restaurant too. Kim chi, rice and slices of pork were fried together with kim chi sauce. The kim chi was very sour if I'm not mistaken.
Mixed Berry, Spicy Cinnamon, Grape (left to right)
Something that I've tried at Tofu Mania and would love to share with everyone is the different Korean beverages being offered there. I would definitely bring home these cans if I were to try them again. There's something about cute, small cans with beautiful designs that make them adorable and collectable.

The manager at the outlet introduced us to the different drinks. The Mixed Berry, as he said, was a sort of energy drink in Korea. Tasted like mixed berry fruit juice, sweet and sourish. The Spicy Cinnamon sounded a little daunting but it was fine, a little queer because it taste like the cinnamon topping on top of Auntie Anne's cinnamon pretzel in liquid form. The Grape drink tasted fine, just like the grape itself with halves of the grapes found in the can. So do shake before opening unless it's a soft drink!

Sweet Rice, Crushed Pear, Sour Plum (left to right)
 That wasn't all. There are three more! The Sweet Rice beverage was, I heard, a very traditonal and popular  beverage in Korea. It tasted like diluted horlicks or ovaltine. The Crushed Pear tasted like the pear itself, refreshing and nice, with pear bits in it. The sour plum tasted like its sour plum fruit too. It was a very nice experience tasting all the 6 different Korean beverages. 'Thank You!' 

I had a very pleasant time at the opening of the Gallerie, tasting different foods and drinks. Especially meeting Kai Yi, who was friendly and a great foodie indeed. The Gallerie has redefined my idea of a food court, has it for you too? Have you been to The Gallerie and tried any of its foods? Please leave a comment in the comment box below, thank you.

Special thanks to Koufu for the invite.

#04-101/102, Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 63362958
Opening Hours: 11am-9pm (Daily)

Jonathan & Eunice's Wedding: A Fairytale Turned Reality

The Groom : Jonathan Tan

The Bride :  Eunice Lin
On this faithful Saturday, 10.9.2011, Jonathan and Eunice officially became Mr and Mrs Tan! Love filled the air and the sounds of wedding bells ringing propagated through the neighbourhood of Toa Payoh as a special communion between Jonathan and Eunice was formed as they exchanged vows and became husband and wife. Congratulations once again!

I know they probably would not see this, but it's alright, I just felt I had to post this. Well, simply because it's something special that happens only once in a lifetime y'know.
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. - Mark 10:7-8
This post shall give me a chance to express my well wishes for both of them too, which I never got down to writing it on a card for them. (guilt stricken is me, but hey I gave them a gift!) 

First of all, what a couple both of them are! In every good way possible, I mean! As individuals, Jonathan or Xin Liang as we usually refer him to, has a God gifted sense of humour; He is extremely funny. (I dare say Jesus bestowed more of his humorous side to him than the rest of us!) He can easily give your cheeks and stomachs a good workout any time, just talk to him. Easy going, friendly are words that befits him well too. 

Eunice or Chun Hui, as I'm used to calling her, is humble, friendly and super nice. I say this not because it's a time to use only positive words but rather, they're base on my own encounters while being working together as ushers in church. Even if she's in charge and she's the boss/leader, she doesn't act like one at all, she's quick to share the blame and not push it to others. Imagine. These two becoming one. -smiles-

Secondly, I believe this marriage is pleasing in the eyes of our Lord and He shall sustain this marriage as long as they live because marriage is sacred and it wouldn't have happened if God didn't allow it. So don't fret and live happily ever after! Life might not be so perfect but let your quibbles, fights, and any forms of unhappiness that might arise, bring you two closer as you two learn what it means to live as one.

Last but not least, may you two continue to be committed and united as the days go by! May you two not have just intimacy in love, in life but also spiritually, in God. Help each other to be more God  fearing everyday, carry your crosses and follow Jesus as you two support each other. Let your lives be a testimony to others, shine in your families, communities, workplaces and flavour the world with your saltiness.(:

The wedding itself was a simple, elegant and touching one. I loved it. There was love in the air and there was God's presence and that's all that matters.

Now, what's a complete joyous occasion without food? People might not think much when 'tea reception' is mentioned, especially when it's catered food. You expect a spread but you don't expect a feast. You haven't found a good caterer yet. 

It was a feast for our eyes as well as our mouths. I regretted not coming down to photograph the food earlier. It was a complete meal - entrées, mains, desserts and drinks. Everyone was in for a treat. 

The smoked salmon and prawns, you see above, are part of the entrées served. The smoked salmon could do with less salt as it was simply too salty, or was it suppose to whet your appetite with its saltiness? The prawns were dipped in a sourish, tomato looking sauce which tasted a little queer and the prawns were a little too fishy, though they were firm and big which tells of their freshness.

There were sushis too!
I skipped the mains, this is why:

How. Do. You. Resist. This. Tell me if you know how, okay?
It was dessert haven. There was a decent variety of desserts and pastries available for anyone's taking. 

The butter cupcakes were very pretty looking with their flower decoration but the flowers were so tough. They should have put up a sign that says 'Flowers might be too hard for consumption.' or something. They were great in taste too, like the yummy strawberry frosting which I loved. No addition complains.

The tiramisu, which means 'pick me up' literally in Italian, was a let down. The biscuit stick on the top lost its crispiness and there was simply too much coffee cream. My taste buds only picked up the cream and nothing else.

There were two chocolate fondues as well. Decent chcolate was used with a wide selection of fresh fruits and marshmallow available for dipping. Thumbs up for that. Chocoholics, you can go 'high' on chocolate now. Oh and if you love to know the caterer? It's Smiling Orchid or

 The wedding was magical, the food was fantastic but these matter not. It's the couple who gave the whole wedding its meaning. I shall end off simply by giving my utmost sincere blessing to you two!

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part. - May you two always hold steadfast to this vow. 

Wishing you a very blessed marriage,