LEGOLAND MALAYSIA: Opens tomorrow, Saturday 15th September, in Johor, Malaysia
Apparently they’ve already sold 50,000 annual passes. I’m definitely not buying mine yet but hanging back to see A. whether it actually opens this year and B. whether the rides are safe. Assuming it does and they are, it’s perfect for a day off the island that you can all jump in the car and drive to. We passed the half finished site a few months back on our way to check out Marlborough Malaysia. And just like Marlborough Malaysia, it definitely didn’t look ready to open in September. But how nice to be proved wrong. They have lego versions of 17 asian cities including Singapore with a Merlion, The Fullerton Hotel and Singapore Flyer. ‘Kuala Lumpur’ has an impressive replica of the Petronas Towers (sadly not quite lifesize, they stand at 11m tall, but nonetheless have broken the world record for the tallest lego structure ever built). The website is pretty comprehensive in terms of what to expect/see and do once you are there. For more tips on JB and shopping, click here.
Legoland, Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia
(Image courtesy of Legoland Malaysia)
IKYU: SUSHI MAY BE BITE SIZED, BUT PRICES AREN’T NECESSARILY…
Ikyu, a stylish Japanese joint (ignore the fact that the autocorrect I’ve been battling with while writing this prefers to call it Icky) joins the buzzing strip on Yong Siak Street in Tiong Bahru that includes Books Actually, Open Door Policy and Forty Hands. Not cheap, come here for very good sushi that’s crafted by the ex-head chef of Hide Yamamoto at MBS. A nice change from all the western food places that have sprung up here and it’s quality and price point challenges you to think very differently about high end dining: it can happen in suburbia.
Ikyu, 5 Yong Siak St, Tiong Bahru, Singapore
T: (+65) 6223 9003
(Image courtesy of Ikyu)
TIONG BAHRU BAKERY BRINGS A SLICE OF PARIS TO RAFFLES CITY
Talking of Tiong Bahru, the bakery set up here by Gontran Cherrier – Tiong Bahru Bakery – has been such a raging success, they’ve opened up a second branch at Raffles City Shopping Centre that is currently absolutely and deliciously empty at weekends. Yes, there is a slight lack of atmosphere vs the buzzing TB location but the expediency of coming here more than off sets it and I bet it’s packed in the week (I haven’t braved a weekday yet). Worth breaking a no-carb diet for, the bread is springily fresh and the black squid ink baps stuffed with a generous helping of smoked salmon are excellent.
Tiong Bahru Bakery II is at #B1-11/12 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103
T: (+65) 6333 4160
(Image courtesy of Changmoh)
ALKAFF MANSION: COLONIAL SPLENDOR & GREAT VALUE SUNDAY BRUNCH
This has been around for about 8 months or so but is hidden away in Telok Blangah and so easy to miss unless you know about it. The building is wonderfully impressive and has been around for longer than this place is probably going to last (100 years). I came here for a Sunday brunch that was organised for a party of about 40 people and we took over the entire top floor of the restaurant. Brilliant value, we paid just $95 a head and were drowned in free flow, great quality prosecco and fed with oysters, cheese from around the globe, antipasti as well as freshly cooked pasta dishes. Not where I’d go if I wanted an uber splurge Sunday brunch with just a few friends, (for that, it would be the St Regis’ Brasserie les Saveurs which I still think is one of the best) the staff were utterly charming, attentive and helpful. A regular Italian restaurant in the weekday, the setting is stunning and it’s full of a lot of regulars who knew and loved it when it was Alkaffe Restaurant, the brainchild of Ong Beng Seng that sadly closed in 2003.
Alcaff Mansion, 10 Telok Blangah Green, Singapore, Singapore 109178
T: (+65) 6510 3068
(Image courtesy of Alkaff Mansion)
NONNA LINA: NEW ITALIAN RECOMMENDED BY MY ITALIAN FRIEND WHO REALLY KNOWS
I hate spending money on average food. I don’t mind spending a lot on eating out, but it has to deliver and make me feel it’s worth it. In order to avoid crushing disappointment, I now never try an new Italian restaurant without my lovely friend CB going there first and giving me the low down. I am yet to visit this one which has just opened on Craig Road but am told on excellent authority (namely hers) that it is most definitely worth it for delicious food that is extremely authentic…just as long as you ask for the specials and take their recommendations. A la carte was a bit dull in comparison to the off-menu things they can conjure up if you ask nicely. (Other restaurants she loves include La Forketta for pizzas only and Gattopardo – for the freshest burrata in Singapore – as well as for everything else they serve.)
Nonna Lina Trattoria, 4 Craig Road, Singapore, Singapore 089664
T (+65) 6222 0930
(Image courtesy of Nonna Lina Trattoria)
IT’S NOT NEW…BUT IT IS CLEVER:
Each week we’ll also showcase one hidden gem that I know, love and can’t live without. It may be known to some, it may be news to others but it’s a place that offers something out of the ordinary.
TONG HENG: FANCY A TART?
I am bored of ordinary, overpriced little cakes from Dempsey bakeries and fancy-pants French patisseries costing an arm and a leg. When you are living here, shouldn’t you be going local? Here’s this week’s find that you could happily serve to the fussiest of pastry chefs or the most knowing of locals:
Chinese puddings are generally much maligned but I defy anyone not to love an egg tart from Tong Heng. Almost identical to a French custard tart in terms of taste (not too sweet) and pastry (deliciously light and crumbly), I was introduced to this Chinatown institution by my surrogate Singaporean mummy, T. Their euro tartiness is explained by the fact that they a hangover from the days when Portugal was in charge here. Priced at little more than $1 a tart, double park and buy a box of at least six to make the trip worth it. Baked daily.
Tong Heng, 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833, T: (+65) 6223 3649 / 6223 0398; Opening Times: 9am-10pm daily
(Image courtesy of Tong Heng)