flo cafe – by food lovers for food lovers

[Food review]

The next time you step foot into IMM, why not try the food at flo (food lovers only)? This new, unpretentious, clean-looking halal cafe offers a wide array of dishes and yet just enough not to thrust you into an overwhelming state. In a nutshell, the selection is …just right.

Interior

flo is an extension of Cafe Manuka in Paragon. The idea to establish flo came about when the Manuka Group wanted a café with more versatile options besides New Zealander cuisine, and one that also caters to the Muslim/halal demographic. A cafe that serves a variety of cuisines was thus born.

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This is one of their all-day breakfast’s hot favourites – flo’s Rosti Special ($15). The potato-lover in me appreciated that the rosti is made from freshly grated potatoes. With two eggs (scrambled or sunny side-up), fresh rocket salad, marinated pulled chicken slices and sour cream with chives dip on the side, this makes for a filling and satisfying meal.

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If you want a lighter starter, their soup-of-the day is delish and there is also this Tomato Mozzarella Salad ($12). I’m not a fan of tomatoes but I love the freshness of the greens. Salad lovers, you might want to try this or their Wild Rocket Mushroom Salad ($10).

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This main, the Korean Inspired Marinated Chicken served with Korean-style fried anchovies and Kimchi Fried Brown Rice ($16) is my personal favourite. It’s a no wonder as I love kimchi and anchovies and since it’s brown rice, I feel this is a healthier meal option? ;p Also, I love the char-grilled chicken so this dish is a thumbs-up for me.

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For those who like their bread, there is the Korean Beef Bulgogi Sandwich ($15). The beef is tender and yummy and I wish there are more of it in the sandwich!

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Pasta and spice lovers, may I challenge you to taste this Korean Beef Pasta ($17)? This unique dish is made with flo’s in-house blended base and it allows the rich flavours of kimchi to complement the spaghetti and beef. I would have chosen this to be my favourite except that I find it too spicy for me. ;(

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flo also offers desserts such as the Bountiful Choco-Brownie ($14.50) and a good selection of cakes.

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Spoilt for choice, no? We had matcha red bean cake, rainbow cake that will cheer you up just by looking at it, ondeh-ondeh cake which we unanimously agreed that it’s the best among the four and tiramisu.

These are just some of the dishes we have tried and there are more on the menu to choose from. The cafe is kids’ friendly and they provide toys as entertainment for the young ones as they wait for their food.

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On the whole, the dining experience at flo is a positive one. There is enough but not overwhelming choice of food on the menu and I’m sure there would definitely be some that would cater to your taste buds. The service is prompt and professional, with a smile always and I truly like the casual setting of the cafe. A good cafe to to dine in and catch up with friends!

flo (food lovers only)
IMM
2 Jurong East Street 21 #02-15A
Singapore 609601
11am to 10pm daily
Contact number: 68961396
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FLO.foodloversonly/

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[Review] Home-cooked goodness at Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家)

Question: If you have a friend visiting Singapore for the first time and would like to try some local home-cooked food, where would you bring him?

Well, for me, I could certainly whip up a few dishes or get my mom to do that but that would mean too much of a trouble. Just think of the preparation and washing up! In any case, perhaps, our culinary standard may not be up to the mark and eating out is the better option. So, we can try the hawker centres or some fancy restaurants but allow me to introduce a casual Chinese restaurant that serves delicious home-cooked food that would bring smiles to your guests.

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Located at Sennett Estate and within walking distance from Potong Pasir MRT station, Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家)aims to provide her customers with a variety of delectable home-cooked food made from the freshest ingredients hand-picked by Gu Ma, the owner, and her IMG_9009culinary team. Gu Ma herself has more than a decade of cooking experience selling her signature chicken rice and wanton noodles before setting up Gu Ma Jia and there is nothing more joyous than sharing delicious home-cooked food with her customers and getting them to enjoy family bonds over meals together. Any home-cook will definitely agree to that.

The restaurant isn’t big on interior design if you are concerned about the ambience. I can see why. The main focus is the food and the company you are dining with. We had the privilege to be invited for a dinner at Gu Ma Jia and were treated to her signature dishes.

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The Assam Fish Head ($28) is one dish that I would certainly order, not just for a visitor, but for my family since it is not something that we would consume on any other day. The spicy and sour Assam blend gravy is surprisingly light on the tongues and I can certainly attest that the fish is fresh. I think my mom would love this. 😉

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Kyoto Pork Ribs ($20) and Yuan Yang Kai Lan ($10/$15/$20) are two of my personal favourite. The pork ribs are flavourful and tender the way I like it. This is a MUST-ORDER. For the Kai Lan, I like how the leaves are deep fried to perfection and that the stems are cooked just right, with the crunchiness effect. Even the hubs who is not a vegetable-lover, likes it.

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Another one on my favourite list is the Clay Pot Chicken with Ginger and Sesame Oil ($15/$22/$28). This appeals to me because the combination of ginger and sesame oil will definitely not go wrong and also it reminds me of home – Mom uses this combination to cook her chicken too. Did I mention that the chicken is really, really tender?

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The other two vegetable dishes are 8 Treasures Vegetables ($12/$18/$24) and Crispy Bean-Jal ($12/$18). The 8 vegetables that make up the former dish are lotus, black fugus, carrot, celery, vegetarian abalone, lingzhi mushroom, cashew nuts and snap peas. Sounds very healthy eh? The Crispy Bean-Jal is made up of fried brinjal and French beans and it’s my first time having brinjal prepared in this way. Quite a clever twist to the usual way of making this dish, at least to me. 😉

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The Hot Plate BBQ Sotong ($18) made an initial good impression on me because of the tangy sauce which can be a good complement to the rice. It is spicy at the right notch and not overly sourish.  The squid was cooked just well but I feel it lacks the bbq-effect which is my preference. If you don’t mind that, this is a rather tasteful dish!

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You will have to order crabs if your friend is visiting, no? I will and that evening, we were treated to White Pepper Crab and Buttered Salted Egg Yolk Crab (@ seasonal price). I’ve had my share of pepper crabs and I’m thankful that the ones served at Gu Ma Jia are meaty and succulent. It is also not too pepper-ish which is great for those who are not into spicy food. However, I’m more attracted to the Butter Salted Egg Yolk Crab, a version that I don’t really get to eat often. Even the hubs who is not a crab-lover went for a few rounds! IMHO, this is another dish I will definitely order.

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Dining at Gu Ma Jia feels like an intimate family affair. The warm and hospitable Gu Ma and her daughter welcomed us and made us feel at home. When the former realised that there were young kids among us, she quickly made the kiddos delicious fish porridge. I’m not sure if the porridge is in the menu but I would order it for myself because it is wholesomely good! Faith wasn’t feeling well that evening but she definitely enjoyed her meal!

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Nakayla and Faith, with Gu Ma and her daughter.

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We had an awfully good time just catching up with one another and everyone felt so at ease. You almost feel you are at home. I guess that is how Gu Ma wants for her customers to feel when they dine at this restaurant.

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So, this is the group (Cherie & hubby, Mabel & family and Estella & hubby)  that went down that day. We had a good time, didn’t we?

Do pop by this humble restaurant if you miss and crave some authentic home-cooked food. Perhaps, for the coming Chinese New Year, you might want to consider Gu Ma Jia as they are holding some promotions.

GU MA JIA FOOD POT ( 姑妈家 )
Sennett Estate
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Singapore 347866
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sg.gumajia
Website: http://www.gumajia.com.sg

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Disclaimer: My family was invited to Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) for a food tasting session. No other compensations were given. Opinions stated are mine. Do note that taste buds differ from persons to persons. 😉

{Review} ONAKA @ ARC

Restaurants with food that impress are aplenty but those that cause me to reflect on my eating habits and cooking are few. Here’s one which not only offers delectable, healthy meals but one that challenges you to eat consciously and to be mindful of the food that you are consuming – Onaka @ ARC.

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ONAKA stands for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts. Headed by head chef Jason Vito, he and his team are committed to bring creativity, passion and personality to the table so as to make every dining experience a unique and an authentic one. They use all-natural ingredients in the preparation of their food and that also means no artificial additives, chemicals, colorings, flavorings, MSG, and trans-fats. Will such food be available in a world that has gone artificial and highly processed? The answer is an absolute YES. Here’s my recent food-tasting experience at ONAKA.

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Hosted by Chef Jason, Benson and Rosalind, a group of mommies and I were led to a long table where we were to experience Conscious Cuisine that evening. First up, the appetizers. The starters above showed off ONAKA’s thoughtfulness and creativity in designing the dishes. Who would have thought that the tuna-like sashimi is actually their signature Watermelon Sashimi (top left) topped with agar wasabi “tobiko”. It took some of us quite an amount of time to figure out what it actually was and we didn’t really quite get it right until Chef Jason revealed. Then, there was Asian Hummus (top right) which is made of organic chickpeas. Chef Jason used hazelnut and sesame oil to add flavour to it and to give an Asian spin to the dish.

The Tofu Avocado Salad was Chef Jason’s version of the Greek salad and I love it that it was light, healthy and without feta cheese (sorry, I’m not fond of it). The addition of walnut and hazelnut adds a nice crunch when you consume of the dish and the tamarind dressing adds a nice touch to the salad. The Nicoise Paper Roll reminds me of the vietnamese roll except that this one has fresh tuna, cucumber, French beans, herbed egg-salad, dehydrated olives and aioli. Quite a lot of stuff in the roll, eh?

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Next, the main course, the carbs. We were thinking that we would be served just one dish but lo and behold, four dishes came out. You should have seen our expression. Amazed! Thankfully, as Chef Jason explained, those mains were meant to be shared as they want to bring back the joy of communal eating to their diners. And that’s what we did. From top left, (in clockwise direction) we had Hot & Sour Prawn Rice Noodles, Maritime Barley Risotto,Pineapple Rice and Roasted Mushroom Soba. Of the four, I like the first one the most since I find it hard to resist the succulent queen prawns that were cooked together with shiitake, Asian herbs, chili lime in spicy shrimp broth. Simply exotic! I thought the Maritime Barley Risotto was creatively designed by using barley to replace the commonly-used Arborio, thus resulting in a light carbo dish.

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Proceeding from the noodles and grains, we had proteins, meat! The servers placed about six meat dishes and we were overwhelmed. Chef should have informed us so that we could pace ourselves! From top left in clockwise direction, we had Duck Pancake which I adore. It reminds me of Peking duck, just that this is actually duck confit cooked with five spice and orange caramel and wrapped in tumeric crepes. Wonderful combination, you think? We also had Portobello Mushrooms with quinoa and grilled vegetables topped with cheese (technically it’s not a meat dish but oh well!), Pumpkin Sea Bass and Miso Lamb. These were not all. The servers brought in more: 48 hrs Beef and Pear & Salmon.

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You have read it right. It’s called 48hrs beef because the meat was cooked slowly with tender loving care for two days with red wine reduction and you could imagine the tenderness of the meat as one took a bite. In addition, it was served with mashed pumpkin and sweet potato and who would have thought that this simple combination could be so inviting to the palate. I couldn’t stop eating it. Totally heavenly!

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The last dish which I want to highlight (because it is my favourite!) is the Pear and Salmon. What you have on the plate are seared 47°C Norwegian salmon paired with Asian pear julienne and soft-boiled egg. Omega-3 overdose? Perhaps! The way to eat it is to mix everything together. It may look messy but it definitely tastes delicious!

As you can see, there is a good variety of food in the menu and there is somethingIMG_1724 for everyone. We were privileged to have the chefs explain the various dishes that were laid out before us. In doing so, they helped us to take notice and enjoy the unique aroma, flavour, texture, taste, selection of ingredients, presentation of food, and understand its nutritional health benefits. That session wasn’t just food tasting; it was food education.

Before we left, we were treated to dessert and who could resist this – Brownie with banana & cardamon ice-cream and topped with a slice of dehydrated banana. We were pampered, to the max.

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ONAKA has created a wonderful and enriching dining experience for us. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. With creativity and knowledge of the ingredients used, the chefs at ONAKA have proved that healthy delicious food can be made. Their passion for what they believe in was clearly demonstrated in their sharing with us. Indeed ONAKA made delicious food healthy and healthy food delicious.

It is one thing to share with you my experience via this means but it is another if you could go down and taste the food yourself. The prices are reasonable for such a cuisine and I am certain that I would visit them again.

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Another thing that impresses me is their thoughtfulness in catering a meal for Sophie, Irene‘s daughter. She was provided with a bowl of Pineapple Rice with Soy Melange Skewer and ice-cream for dessert. How sweet of them!

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Do visit ONAKA and get educated on Conscious Cuisine! Situated at ARC, parking is free with a minimum purchase of $30 on week day evenings and free parking during weekends.

ONAKA @ ARC 
460 Alexandra Road #01-32 PSA Building Singapore 119963
Mon to Fri – 11:30am to 10pm
Afternoon Tea – 3pm to 5pm
Sat & Sun Brunch – 10am to 4pm
Dinner – 6pm & last order 9:30pm
Mon to Sun Happy Hours Promotion – 3pm to 8pm
Tel: 6270 2012

Disclosure: This review was due to an invitation from ONAKA @ ARC. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.