My best ever fish and chips at Bridge Fish & Chips, Mordialloc

After five days of South East Asiaing in Singapore, it was time for the next destination. After a sort of painful red-eye flight, that was prolonged by a tropical thunderstorm, we found ourselves at the Mornington Peninsula, just outside of Melbourne, Australia.

As I have relatives there, Christmas in Australia was sort of the main goal for our trip, despite only spending five days there.

Anyway, after managing skybuses, commuter trains and finally some walking we ended up at my relatives’ house. Fortunately they had anticipated our state of mind, and fried food was on the agenda.

Close to where we stayed, there is Mordialloc. To me, it sounds like some vicious creature straight out of Harry Potter, but fortunately it’s a quite nice little suburb by the ocean that also happens to have a nice fish and chips shop. We opted for take away and brought a load of deep fried seafood goodies, chips and white Aussie and New Zealand wine and crashed down on a bench next to the ocean. It might’ve been reaching firm ground after the painful flight and all that, but this was the best fish and chips I have ever had. The calamari was ridiculous. Not even a bit chewy – soft meat, crunchy coating. The fish was flaky and with equally crunchy batter. The prawns, oh the prawns. Juicy, sweet and with a beautiful crispy coating as well. Great chips, tartare sauce (I love that stuff so much), a squeeze of lemon, and cold white wine. A red sunset for dessert. Couldn’t be much better.

Website (their page on Tripadvisor)

A night at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore

Being my third visit to Singapore, I’ve not been able to miss the enormous, pretty-yet-slightly-ugly, structure of three buildings topped off with an ironing board, sort of.

The space ship-y structure is of course the Marina Bay Sands, a huge complex including a hotel; casino; giant shopping mall; the world’s most Instagrammed swiming pool; and, naturally, canals with gondolas.

In spite of my slightly pretensious intro, I’ve always loved Marina Bay Sands. I have a thing for futuristic, slightly over the top architecture, and MBS together with a couple of buildings in Dubai might be one of the best examples of that style.

So, anyway, third time in Singapore, and we decided to fork out and stay our last night at Marina Bay Sands.

Price for one night in a club room

After doing lots of research we decided to go for a club room, which in addition to the room also gives you a range of perks. For one night we paid around 650 sgd in total with taxes. A huge price for one night, but it was sort of worth it.

Checking in

As we arrived the Tower 1 with an Uber, we ditched the lines in the gigantic main lobby and instead entered the Sands lounge for our check in procedure. It was calm, there was free coffee, tea and water, and they made you sit down in a comfy leather chair while taking your details. We purposely arrived early (11 am) to see if we would get access to the pool or even early access to our room. Fortunately both. First they said we would get a temporary visitor card so to access the guests only infinity pool, but the moment after the room was also ready, and off we went to the 49th floor.

The room

I had hoped for a room facing the city (despite booking the cheaper option facing the ocean and Gardens By the Bay), but no luck. We could however see the city from the hallways, lounge and pool so no worries in the end.

The room had decent sized balcony, and surprisingly for such a fancy hotel there was a cockroach on it (not in the room though). Otherwise the room was meticulously clean and fresh. It was big and airy, with all the things needed such as a flatscreen TV, large bed, mini bar, free wifi and a fancy looking bathroom with both shower and a tub. Since the hotel is sort of a destination in itself, we did not spend a great amount of time in the actual room in the end.

The swimming pool

Marina Bay Sands is probably most famous for its 57th floor swimming pool. Only accessible for hotel guests (although you can sneak a peek of it from Cé la Vie Bar and the admission Sands SkyPark) it offers really spectacular views over Singapore’s skyline and a hint of vertigo as the infinity pool seems to end right at the edge of the building (which it sort of does, although there’s a bit of edge a bit further down which is only visible if you swim up to the edge). Definitely the coolest (pun intended as it was sort of cold) pool I’ve experienced. It was quite busy during our visit, but the pool is looong so there’s still plenty of space to sunbathe and swim. There’s a fair bit of selfie game going on, but less to that I anticipated. And again, the views themselves pretty much motivate the stay in my mind.

The afternoon tea

In the Club 55 lounge (as name implies located on level 55), which is included in club rooms, afternoon tea is served from around 2 pm and lasts for two hours, until 4 pm. The afternoon tea consisted of a buffet with both savoury and sweet items, but with a focus on pastries and cakes. Great macarons! You are offered coffee (including speciality coffee such as cappuccinos) or tea when you arrive, which is brought to the table. The coffee was so-so, but the buffet items were really nice.

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Evening canapées (with free champagne!)

After a brief chance to reload, evening canapées with complimentary cocktails or drinks are served from 5-7 pm in the same Club 55 lounge. We arrived pretty much 5 pm sharp and there was already a line. Five minutes later the line was quite long. We managed to get a window table which was really nice for taking pictures as the sun started to set during our visit. Like the afternoon tea, a buffet is served and is self service. This time it was more focus on savoury stuff, and they had a quite good selection of small and tasty bites such as quiches, cheese, salmon, grissinis, olives and dips. If you’re a bit greedy like us, you could quite easily have a quite filling meal.

Drinks are served to the table and they emphasised that there’s one (alcoholic) drink at a time. Greedy as we were I think we managed to drink 4 or 5 glasses each of Piper-Heidsieck champagne that was included along with a bunch of other drinks and cocktails. A great argument for the extra $150 SGD we paid extra for a room with lounge access, since “real” champagne is quite pricey in Singapore and we probably drank like a bottle each with possibly the best view in the city.

Breakfast

As a club guest you’re again entitled to breakfast in the Club 55 Lounge. Although you can also choose to have it in the lobby, OR by the pool, at Spago by Wolfgang Puck. “Why eat inside when you live in a land of that’s pretty much covered in ice and snow half year”, we thought and took of for Spago around 8 am. There was quite a few that had the same idea though, and we had to wait in line for 10 minutes or so before we were seated. The breakfast was really good fortunately and definitely worth the wait. You can order speciality coffee (included in price) but they won’t tell you, as we realised too late after a few cups of bland “hotel coffee”. You can also order your eggs according to preference, which included eggs benedicte style, meaning poached on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce. Apart from this a quite large buffet is available with high quality food – both Western and Asian. Tasty freshly squeezed juices too. A very nice breakfast for sure.

The verdict 5/5

Despite us paying pretty much the exact same price for one night at the Marina Bay Sands as we paid for our four prior nights at the Hotel Bencoolen at Hong Kong Street we actually found it quite worthwile. I probably wouldn’t stay there for an entire stay even if I could properly afford it since there’s so much stuff going on that you wouldn’t really have a chance to properly experience Singpore. But for 24 hours of feeling like a millionaire, I’d say it’s worth its price if you find a deal similar to ours (650 sgd incl taxes).

My foodie happy place: Lau Pa Sat food market

Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market, is a hawker centre that has fed Singaporeans since the 1800s. Situated smack bang in Singapore’s financial district, the classic building, filled with local eateries, is one of my favourite foodie places in the world. Just sitting there, sipping on a beer, smelling the grilled satay skewers from the “satay street” next to the market while waiting for what ever you’ve ordered (there is actually sort of table service with different vendors selling and bringing food to the table). Above is satay, grilled chicken, lamb and beef skewers with peanut sauce. There are different stalls doing different kinds of satay, but all I’ve tried has been really good.

Blackpepper crab and mantou. A really nice steamed crab, woked in a spicy blackpepper sauce. The mantou buns are sort of like deep fried bread rolls that you use to soak up the sauce. So good.

Hokkien Mee. A seafoody noodle dish topped with crispy pork rinds.

Carrot cake or chai tow kway. Not containing any carrot but radish and sliced rice cake in a omelette-meets-pancake kind of creation.

Murtabak. A pancake-like dish filled with spicy, fragrant sliced chicken. Dip in the accompanying curry sauce. Mmmm.

Meat-mayo-marrow mayhem at Burnt Ends Singapore

One of 2017s best meals was at Burnt Ends Singapore, sort of an Australia meats (sorry) United States-style barbecue restaurant – in Singapore! Ranked as 10 on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 best list, reservations is a must and we made ours a month or so in advance. We sat at the bar where dinner is enjoyed facing the open kitchen, and you are handed the dishes straight from the chefs while sipping cocktails and wine served by the waiters (that also serves food to the rest of the restaurant not sitting at the kitchen bar). A foodie dream more or less.

Above is the skirt steak with bone marrow and burnt onion. So rich, so good.

“Garlic shoots and gremolata”. A little bit like very thin asparagus served with a tart gremolata and a really nice mayo.

Burnt Ends’ Sanger with pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli in a brioche bun. Really decadent and delicious. Not very refined, but just plain tasty.

Beef marmalade and pickles”. Pulled beef-y marmalade with crunchy sweet and sour pickled cucumbers, on grilled sourdough smeared with mayo. So my kind of food and so delicious.

Price

Burnt Ends’ menu of the night to give you an indication of prices. We paid slightly over $200 (SGD) for two including a shared bottle of wine and water (there’s free tap water though which the servers ‘forgot’ to mention to us which was a bit annoying). Anyway, despite that a really nice dinner.

Website

Great lunch at Candlenut, Singapore

Before leaving for Singapore, I read at several places about a restaurant called Candlenut that serves Peranakan style food, sort of meaning Singaporean/Malay and some extent Indonesian food influenced and fusioned with the food of Chinese migrants. Straits-Chinese Candlenut themselves call it. They also have a Michelin star, naturally I had to pay Candlenut a visit.

As the headline implies, we went for lunch. To start we ordered their pork neck satay that came without any peanut sauce or similar. We ordered their housemade spicy sambal to have something to dip in though.

Next up was a delicious fresh, sweet, salt and sour crunchy salad with wing beans, fresh prawns, cashew nuts, lemongrass, kalamansi lime and baby radishes.

King Tiger prawns in a ‘gula melaka” coconut sauce with lemongrass and Thai basil. Giant juicy prawns and the most intense coconut flavour I’ve ever experienced. Totally delicious.

Rendang, or sort of a dry Indonesian curry, I’ve tried in both Indonesia and actually also at home trying to recreate our vacation favourite. It is a bit like pulled beef, to draw a similarity to a Western dish but with quite complex flavours of different spices cooked into the meat for many hours. Candlenut’s version with Wagyu beef ribs was very rich, for me almost too rich. But still very good flavour wise.

Last but not least, the buah keluak dessert that apparently is one of Candlenut’s signature dishes. Buah keluak is a nut from the kepayang tree and is in this dish made into a quite bitter cocoa-y ice cream. With it comes Valrhona chocolate, chilli and a warm chocolate espuma. I read a few reviews of this dessert and many did not like it. I did though. Actually, I really liked it, almost really, really liked it. A really cool way of showcasing a unfamiliar (to the Western palate at least).

What a lunch is all I can say to summarize our visit to Candlenut. Good efficient service; nice interior and ambiance, and of course great food.

Price

We paid roughly 140 SGD (including the ++) for food, a shared dessert and a cup of coffee each. We did only have tap water to drink, which was complimentary.

Website

Dinner at Din Tai Fung Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Whenever I am in a city with a branch of Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, I tend to go there for a fix of one of my favourite dishes in the world – the famous soup dumpling, xiao long bao.

Din Tai Fung’s Marina Bay Sands branch is one of the best I have visited (maybe that’s a general Din Tai Fung Singapore-thing though) of the Din Tai Fungs I’ve visited over the world so far. The above xiao long bao pork soyp dumplings were great. Filled with broth and minced pork, then dipped in a chilli-vinegar-soy-ginger dipping sauce, they make your taste buds do the happy dance.

Almost as good as the soup dumplings is the dan dan noodles. Chewy, elastic noodles in a creamy spicy sesame-peanut sauce, sprinkled with spring onions. Mmm-mmm!

Pork buns meets Singapore’s national dish, the famous chilli crab in a – you guessed it – pork and chilli crab bun. This was quite good, although not as good as above dishes.

In the foreground a spicy cucumber salad, in the back – another all time favourite – Din Tai Fung’s Taiwanese pork chop with perfect, slightly oily, egg and scallion rice. Incredibly tasty.

Finally we tried pork and prawn gyoza. Flavour wise it was good but nothing out of the ordinary. Texture wise, however, one of the best gyozas I’ve ever had. Insanely crispy bottom, and light, slightly chewy top.

Hello, Singapore!

After a longish trip to Singapore with the new semi-nonstop (you need to disembark in Moscow but then continue on the same plane) route with Singapore Airlines, we’re now in the “Lion City”, one of my favourite food cities in the world. It’s my third visit which is a first for me outside of Europe.

As mentioned we flew in with Singapore Airlines in their premium economy class. While not amazing, it was pretty nice. And hey – we got meatballs with champagne (Nicolas Feuilatte) for breakfast.

Will make a proper review once back home, when we’ve tried them some more. But first up is four more days of food and adventures in Singapore.

What is a patty melt? (recipe)

Had a really decadent breakfast the other day. Saw this creation fly past on Instagram a couple of times in the last month, and decided i had to try. I mean a burger meets grilled cheese… I couldn’t resist. Behold the patty melt.

What you need (for one patty melt)

1 burger patty (I used store-ground chuck roll)

4 slices of cheddar cheese

2 Slices of toast bread (preferably rye or brown bread)

A couple of pickles

Butter

Salt

How to make the patty melt:

1. Fry the burger patty until cooked, season with salt. Finish with two slices of cheddar and allow to melt on top.

2. Spread butter on the bread slices.

3. Fry bread with butter side down in a frying pan, turn, and let fry on the other side as well.

4. Add one slice of cheddar on the buttered side of each bread slice. Add burger inbetween the two slices. Return to pan for a few seconds to allow the cheese to melt if needed.

5. Cut the patty melt diagonally into two triangular sandwiches. Serve with pickles. Enjoy (and then go out for a walk)!

Update: Next time I’d probably add some mayo, raw onion and possibly pickles on my patty melt.

A short staycation at Hotel At Six in Stockholm

I recently took a brief staycation in one of Stockholm’s new ’luxury hotels’ – Hotel At Six. At Six is a part of both iPrefer and Nordic Choice Hotels (not sure how that works, but I could only receive points from one 😩), the latter is the mother company of my favourite Scandinavian chain Clarion, and hence my expectations were quite high. I won’t elaborate that much, but the stay was definitely my best hotel experience so far in Sweden; great staff, great room and amenities, and most of all fantastic views from our ’deluxe room’.


Room and views over Stockholm. Try to get a room facing Djurgården. The other direction, towards Södermalm has more nearby buildings blocking the view.

Complimentary breakfast buffet pretty latte.

We brought our own champagne to the room and got to borrow nice Riedel champagne glasses from house keeping. Ice bucket was included in the room and ice machines was in the hallway.

Room service sounded delicious but was a tad expensive so we went for take away from Barrels and Burgers (city), which is relatively close. The money we saved was invested in a bottle of Brunello that was deeelicious with the burgers, wings and fries.

After a good nights rest in the fluffy bed it was time for a very nice breakfast before checking out.

Philly cheese steak sandwich recipe

The other day I found a piece of Provolone cheese in my next door supermarket. Many years ago (I sound really old now) I tried to make Philly cheese steak sandwiches at home, featuring thin slices of rib-eye steak/entrecôte, fried peppers & onions as well as a thick layer of melted provolone cheese. Needless to say I loved it. Hence, I though it might be time for another round of cheese steak sandwiches last weekend, and I must say they turned out really well. Not to mention it’s really easy to make.

What you need (for two)

About 150 grams of flank steak

One green bellpepper

One red onion

One clove of garlic

2 soft bread rolls (I used brioche hot dog rolls)

Provolone cheese (I also used some leftover burger cheddar)

Vinegar, salt, pepper

Cooking instructions

1. Trim, and then rub the flank steak with salt and pepper. Let rest in room temperature. Also set your oven to 150 degrees celsius or similar.

2. Slice bellpepper and onion in thin slices. Finely chop the garlic clove.

3. Heat a pan until it starts to smoke (eg. is really hot). Sear the meat on both sides until your prefered cooking grade. I go for medium rare. Let the meat rest while you continue with the preparations.

4. Fry bellpepper, onion and garlic in oil on medium heat until soft. Splash over about two teaspoons of vinegar as well as salt and pepper. Take off the heat.

5. Start with the sandwiches. Brush the breads with a thin layer of dijon mustard (skip this if you’re no mustard fan). Slice the breads and put the fried vegetables on top of the bottom part of the bread. Add sliced cheese and put in the oven for about a minute to melt the cheese. Put in the top breads at the same time but separated to get them warm.

6. Slice the flank steak as thinly as you prefer and stack it on top of the cheesy vegetable bottom bread. Add the top bread. Done!