We haven't been to boCHINche for a while, and not since they've moved to new premises in the heart of the business district. The current space is more compact, a little cosier I suppose, but it also means that reservations are now very much more encouraged. The menu's trimmed down too, and tighter, with a decidedly increased focus on the meats, and a more contemporary flair.

They've taken off a number of our favourites, like the ox cheeks and pork chops, which are missed, but retained a couple of mainstays like the steaks and updated the grilled market fish. Some changes, I liked, but many, I found disconcerting, to say the least. The steak, raked over a white charcoal grill, is now a little uneven, and I couldn't appreciate that some of my beloved dishes weren't ever making a comeback, but the fish, styled more intricately, is still fantastic.

That said, it's nice that the staff remembered us from the Martin Road days. That was quite the personal touch.

The Crab on Toast ($18) draped over a velvety "humita nortena" sauce, topped with a sprinkle of marjoram and pickled turnips, was refreshing and well-balanced, the sweet of the crabmeat contrasted with the acidic piquancy of the turnips.

Another new addition to the menu, the Chorizo Croquettes ($16) was beautifully executed, burnished with a dollop of heady smoked peppers and red amaranth.

The Ricotta Tortellini ($17) laced with sweet potato leaves, green peas, broad beans, butter sauce, was wonderfully exquisite. Hearty but polished.

The charcoal-grilled Ojo de Bife ($75), a hefty 400gm ribeye imbued with a fragrant char was unfortunately unevenly salted, but the accompanying chimichurri was instrumental in elevating the pedestrian meat. Thick chips (these were almost wedges), and a balsamic-dressed mixed green salad lent themselves well to cut through the monotony of red meat.

The Fish of the Day, an Atlantic Cod ($43) pooled in a basil beurre blanc with shaved almonds, and sided by a corn and faro medley, was absolutely sumptuous. Another must-try.

115 Amoy Street #01-02
Tel: 6235 4990
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner;
Saturdays from 11am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner;
Sundays from 11am to 3pm
Website: www.bochinche.com.sg


Cheng Mun Chee Kee Pig Organ Soup

I don't think I've ever featured pig's organ soup on this my blog before. It's not a dish I'm intimately familiar with, hardly ever having it growing up, so I'm not exactly crazy about it, nor do I ever crave it.

Cheng Mun Chee Kee is a name synonymous with pig's organ soup. The coffeeshop, a stone's throw away from the now demolished Lavender Food Centre, had always seemed a full-house everytime we took-away from Kok Kee. The late-night supper spot is open till the wee hours of the night, and so I thought it a viable option when I felt like something soupy and fortifying in the dead of night.

The Soup ($6) was a pick-and-mix, so we got a large bowl loaded with beancurd, lean pork, and pork ball, passing on the innards. I'd always thought this would be like a less-oily bak kut teh, but this was nothing like our local pork rib soup. It wasn't peppery or robust one bit, but it was heavy on the porky overtones. Suffice it to say, I'm still not a fan of the peasant food of a dish. Also, the chilli lacked punch and heat; I would have liked it more piquant, and a hellotta spicier.

The Oyster Sauce Xiao Bai Cai ($3) was passable in that cannot-fail way. Greens were crunchy, drenched in a light sauce, and topped with lashings of fried shallots.

I detected a hint of red wine vinegar in the Stir-Fried Cabbage ($3) which overwhelmed the delicate sweetness of the stewed cabbage.

The Hua Tiao Wine Chicken with Ginger ($3) sweetened with wolfberries, was ok but the chicken was less than fork-tender.

The Steamed Minced Meat with Chestnut ($2) was one of the better dishes, juicy and coarsely textured.

The only other worthwhile dish, the Braised Peanuts ($2), subtle in its soy marinade, was nicely done.

Cheng Mun Chee Kee Pig Organ Soup
24 Foch Road
Tel: 6297 5068
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9am to 5am;
Sundays from 9am to 12midnight;
Closed on Mondays


Park Bench Deli

Sandwiches are my current comfort food go-tos. It just sucks that there's a dearth of halfway decent sandwich shops in Singapore.

Then I discovered Park Bench Deli, a sandwich specialist smack dab in middle of the Telok Ayer/Amoy Street dining enclave. In addition to being incredibly accessible, they're also open all day; so we don't just have our lunches here, we eat dinners here too! 

The bright and cheery, turquoise-hued deli is directly opposite The Market Grill, a small-ish setup with tiny cocktail-height tables and even tinier stools. You'll never be more acutely aware of your big bum here.

Buzzy with executive or young hipster types, the bistro gets fairly packed during peak dining hours. Turnover is high though, as the eatery gets a little stuffy so people don't linger for long. Methinks Park Bench Deli isn't efficiently ventilated or sufficiently air-conditioned. I was sweating up a storm by the time I left the crowded joint. (in this regard, I must highlight that I've never really acclimatized to SG's weather, and I perspire at the slightest, so if you're generally fine with our tropical weather, you should be ok lolling in PBD)

Service is chirpy and engaging, especially during a lull, and I have them to thank for recommending the best Philly-styled cheesesteak sandwich ever. Holy cow was it mind-blowingly delicious. Tbh, if this is what Philly's cuisine is like, sign me up for a transfer pronto!

That said, the Cubano ($16) decked with seared pulled pork, smoked ham, contrasted with bread & butter pickles, melted cheese, a schmear of yellow mustard, and slapped between toasted cuban bread, was the Hubs' favourite sandwich here. Ever since we watched 'Chef', we've been obsessing over Cubanos, and PBD's version finally makes sense of the hype of a Cubano in the food-porn of a movie. This was insanely glorious!

Ah, the piece de resistance, the Cheese Steak ($16) loaded with juicy sliced beef brisket, griddled onions, oodles of molten cheese sauce, swaddled in a toasted hoagie. We'd originally ordered the Patty Melt, but saw the beef sizzling on the griddle, and were convinced to switch out our order, and boy was that decision life-changing. This was absolutely magnificent! For sure a must-try.  

The Fried Egg ($10), layered with bacon, cheddar, PBD sauce, frisee, and cuffed between a fluffy buttery brioche, was one of the best club sandwiches I've ever had, but unfortunately paled in comparison to the awesome Cubano and Cheese Steak.

The Cured Meat ($16) luscious with beautifully strips of salami, coppa, rosette, and pancetta, was contrasted with a piquant sundried tomato aioli, crisp frisee, melty mozzarella, and sandwiched between brioche buns. Served refreshingly chilled, this was quite excellent.

Park Bench Deli
179 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6815 4600
Open Mondays from 12noon to 4pm for lunch; 5pm to 10pm for dinner;
Tuesdays to Fridays from 10.30am to 4pm for lunch; 5pm to 10pm for dinner
Website: parkbenchdeli.com


Kaiho Sushi

Cuppage Plaza may look dodgy AF, but it's a veritable trove of cheap eateries, especially those of the Japanese persuasion. Like, there's one Japanese restaurant for every other fogged-up KTV lounge, which may explain the prevalence of Japanese men thronging the dingy mall.

One of the more popular spots is Kaiho Sushi, a tiny cramped space frequented by locals and Japanese expats alike. The 15-odd-seater capacity is a blessing in disguise really, because Kaiho Sushi is a one man show. Seriously. When we were there for lunch, the chef was whizzing about, doubling up as the waiter and sometimes, tripling up as cashier. Halfway through, his dishwasher stepped in to help out with the clearing of tables and cashiering duties.

Food-wise, I wouldn't venture that it's the most authentic or exquisite. But, the sushi passed muster, and the cooked fare was commendably executed. Best to pick from the aburi section of the menu, there were a number of standouts here. In all, Kaiho Sushi would make for a worthwhile mass-market type meal, with affordable prices and generous portions.

The Sake Sashimi ($15) and Hamachi Sashimi ($30) weren't dirt-cheap, but the salmon and yellowtail were sliced thickly. They weren't the best cuts of fish, but fresh and sweet enough.

A must-try, we smelled the Aburi Wagyu Beef Sushi ($15) even before it arrived on our table. This was more beef than rice, and the sticky sweet yakitori sauce slathered all over only served to enhance the smoky char of the meat.

The Aburi Spicy Tuna Maki ($12) was a smidge clunky in execution, but big on flavour. And size. I'm relatively big-mouthed, but even I couldn't fit one into my mouth.

The Ebi Tempura ($15) was decently battered, but the prawns were a little tasteless.

I liked the Edamame ($9) which was served steaming hot and beautifully salted.

Kaiho Sushi
#03-01 Cuppage Plaza
5 Koek Road
Tel: 9734 9822
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner
Closed on Mondays


Xi Yan Shaw

Xi Yan was a recommendation by a foodie friend who lives in the neighbourhood. The casual offshoot of the Singapore outpost of the lauded Hongkong restaurant is one of his go-tos for family dinners.

Tucked away in a neglected corner of the depressingly forlorn Shaw Centre, the small-ish cosy bistro was quiet. Clearly, this part of the mall doesn't get much foot traffic from the throngs of Lido cinema-goers. Other than peak dining hours, the eatery barely packs in a three-quarters' capacity.

The fare at Xi Yan is simple, and not particularly fancy or refined. Save for the incredible dan dan noodles, dinner wasn't particularly memorable. Or outstanding. But it had a comfortingly homecooked appeal to it.

Likewise with the service, which was a-ok, if a little dull and unmotivated. You can well tell the staff was more enthused about clearing the restaurant than serving the customers. We didn't get any water (tap or bottled). And that ridiculously oily floor between the kitchen and the service galley was just an occupier's liability suit waiting to happen.

The Fried XO Chai Poh Radish Cake ($8.80), mildly spiced, was fragrant with umami overtones. The radish cake was chunky, dotted with strips of julienned radish, but soft and flavourful.

The Deep Fried Pork Belly in Fermented Sauce ($10.80 for small) was a porky rendition of our local prawn paste chicken, tasty and moist.

The Black Truffle Prawn Omelette ($17.80) was wonderfully homestyled, even if the alkali-treated prawns were a little stripped of natural sweetness.

The Fried Sotong in Butter Salted Yolk ($16), crusty and heated subtly with fried curry leaves, was perfectly cooked.

The dry, spicy version of the Dan Dan Noodles ($10.80) was a must-try. It was delightfully piquant, with copious lashings of black vinegar, balanced with scrumptious nubbins of seasoned pork mince. If there was one thing that'll draw me back to Xi Yan, this'll be it.

Xi Yan Shaw
1 Scotts Road
#03-12 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6733 3476
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 5.30pm to 10pm for dinner
Website: www.xiyan.com.sg


Potato Head Folk

We were devastated when Bruno Menard terminated his partnership at &Made. We'd loved the burgers there, and the celebrity chef's Midas touch proved crucial for the burger joint, as its tenure was short-lived after his exit.

So it was quite a joyous event when we discovered Potato Head Folk, an offshoot of the famed Bali hot spot. I mean, holy cow! The burgers here were truly ah-mazing: juicy, oozy, messy, drippy and totally scrumptious. Just be sure to have lots of wet-nap on hand, you'll need it to mop the dribble off your chin.

The casual bistro is located at the Keong Siak enclave, a 3-storey tower of kitsch decked out with irreverent knick knacks like an ironic burger lamp and frivolous statues. It's fun and playful, just like its approach to burgers.

The signature Truff Ryder ($36), a massive hunk of 120gm A5 Kagoshima Wagyu patty, was layered with a slab of seared foie gras, black truffle cheese, onion jam, and slapped with den miso mayo and ketchup, between fluffy demi-brioche buns. Sinfully indulgent, decadent, and an absolute must-try. 

Mushroom lovers (like myself) would probably take to the Fun Boy Three ($25), with a roasted portobello cap, and smoked cheese centered upon a hefty 120gm Hereford Angus Applewood cheddar aged beef patty, slicked with garlic miso butter, ketchup, and truffle aioli, and cuffed between demi-brioche buns. 

The Smokin' B-Boy ($25) had a local twist, with lashings of bawang goreng (golden fried shallots) laden on a 120gm Hereford Angus beef patty, melted smoked applewood cheese, crispy Dingley Dell beer & treacle bacon, burnished with bbq ketchup and smokey mayo. This boasted a subtle spiciness, which kick was bolstered by the smoky punch of the bacon and cheese. 

The Sticky Toffee Pudding ($6), wet with a toasted coconut butterscotch sauce, was surprisingly delicious, in no small part due to the gula melaka slathered all over the luscious cake. Clotted cream provided a cool contrast. It's a teeny weeny portion, but that was alrightey with us; we were stuffed to the gills having finished 3 burgers between the 2 of us. 

Potato Head Folk
36 Keong Siak Road
Tel: 6327 1939
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 12midnight; Closed on Mondays
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