Tampines 1’s Food Court

Every mall in Singapore that I’ve been to has a food court that is, in reality, just an indoor hawker.  The same basic varieties of food are served in the same basic way.  It’s a very convenient way to eat, especially if you’re not willing to spring for an expensive meal in a sit down restaurant.  These food courts (and hawkers) in Singapore often have much better prices than what you’d find in a mall food court in the US, making them a very affordable place to eat.

I’d somehow assumed that Tampines 1 was an exception to the rule that every mall has a food court.  I’d just never seen it.  It’s tucked away in a corner on the top floor, by the pet shop.  We happened to see it when we went to the pet shop to browse for travel carriers for our cats.

The food court isn’t bad at all.  The air conditioning there is ice cold and it offers glassed walls all the way around, which offer an excellent view of the area around Tampines 1.  The iced kacang seemed to be pretty popular, and there was a stall called Kuala Lumpur Roasted I want to try out.  I’m sure it’s just the standard chicken rice / roast pork rice / etc. stall, but maybe they have their own twist to the recipe that’s worth experiencing.

 

The most disappointing thing about the food court is that it’s not designed well.  With Tampines 1 being such a new mall, you’d think they’d have put more effort into making the food court look appealing.  The food court at Suntec resembles a library.  The food court at Vivocity looks like a quaint, village shopping district.  The food court at Ion is decked out in gold chrome and white statues of animals.  This food court is rather bland.  I suppose their reasoning might have been that there are already food courts in the two other malls in the area which also have a bland design, so they didn’t need to put much thought into the one they built for Tampines 1.

Restaurants in the US often have a theme to enhance their appeal, but before coming to Singapore I couldn’t have cared less what a food court in a mall looked like, as long as the food was decent.  I’ve become accustomed to, and spoiled by, the level of detail Singaporeans put into designing their malls.

Yamazaki @ Tampines 1 Mall

With all of the times we’ve walked right by this place I can’t imagine why we never poked our head in to look around.  I guess it was the really fancy cakes they had in the display cases facing out towards the mall walkway.  Tampines 1 isn’t really the place I’d think of when I want good, but reasonably priced, baked goods.

However, with my time in Singapore fast coming to an end, I got curious and looked around inside.  I was surprised to see great prices and a great variety of sweet baked items.  There were things with chocolate cream, custard fillings and apple pies and it was all completely affordable.

We quickly loaded up a tray to take home with us.  We’re gonna have to go on some long runs this week to burn off these calories, but they were definitely worth it!

The custard was better than I’d hoped, the waffle was sweet and tasted like it’d go great in a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and the apple pie my wife picked out was incredible!

If you’re looking for some good quality pastry type items for a good price, I recommend this place.  You can even get some Japanese milk tea or cafe au lait from the cooler to wash down your pastry.

Tapa King in Singapore

Tapa King Banner

Tapa King is a restaurant that serves a popular Filipino dish called tapsilog.  The restaurant is very popular in the Philippines and has finally opened branches here in Singapore at Lau Pa Sat (same place as where the only Wendy’s in Singapore is) and one at Century Square in Tampines.  There may be other branches but those are the only two I’m aware of.

Anyhow, my wife found out about it because of a person handing out flyers by the Tampines MRT station.  She was a little disappointed at first but then realized she should check the food court.  It wouldn’t make sense for them to hand out flyers there otherwise.  Sure enough, Century Square had a Tapa King outlet:

Tapa King Menu

She was so excited she couldn’t wait to share the experience with me, and I mean that literally.  She went there for lunch and then told me in great detail about how good it was.  Tapa King’s reputation is well known to Filipinos and many of them were lined up, along with curious locals, to get a taste of this great Filipino dish.

Line at Tapa King

She didn’t want me to miss out on the experience so she sent me a copy of the menu so I could choose something for her to bring home with her:

Tapa King:

Tender beef strips marinated in a savory sauce cooked over a griddle, served with fried egg, chopped tomato and garlic fried rice.

Tapa Queen

Tender beef strips marinated in a spicy sweetish sauce cooked over a griddle, served with fried egg, chopped tomato and garlic fried rice.

Tapa Prince

Tender beef strips marinated in sweetish sauce cooked over a griddle, served with fried egg, chopped tomato and garlic fried rice.

Tapa Joe

Tender beef strips cut in small pieces marinated in herbs and spices cooked over a griddle, served with fried egg, chopped tomato and garlic.

They all sounded pretty good, but I went ahead and asked for the Tapa King.  The tapa dishes are their specialty so we didn’t bother with the other dishes.  My wife says the Spicy Tuyo is good, but it’s dried fish and she figured I wouldn’t like that.  Crispy Liempo is a piece of pork, if you’re wondering.

When she got home I eagerly opened the box, ready to dig in:

Tapa King Meal

Tapa King Meal

When I took the first bite, I knew I’d found a new favorite dish.  I literally found myself scraping the container to get the last few bits of garlic rice and wished I’d had a second helping available.  I’m excited to try the other versions the next time I’m in Tampines.

If you’re interested in trying some Filipino cuisine in Singapore, then I highly recommend Tapa King.  You definitely won’t be disappointed!

Say Cheeze, Tampines 1

Mob Photo 30-Dec-2009 PM 11 32 00

My wife and I finally got around to trying this place out.  I’d actually decided not to eat there because the decor is hideous.  I mean, I want to be nice, but there’s really no excuse for how horribly ugly the place was decorated.  So, I’d written it off.  It didn’t look that appealing.  I know someone is thinking something ‘cheezy’ about books and covers, but when it comes to food, appearance is important.

Mob Photo 30-Dec-2009 PM 11 29 58

So, I never really paid attention to the place until about a week ago when someone I know told me the food there is good.  A few days later we happened to be in Tampines 1 and realized it was time for dinner, so we started thinking about where we wanted to eat.  Then I remembered what the guy had said about Say Cheeze and we decided to give it a shot.

When we first glanced over the menu we weren’t that impressed but we couldn’t think of anywhere else to eat so we sat down and ordered.  We were very surprised.  I wish I’d brought my regular camera.  These are just from my iPhone.

The dishes we ordered had an upgrade ‘combo’ deal.  For 5.90 SGD (4.90 on weekdays) we got a drink and a choice of soup.  The add-on price seemed kind of high until we saw the soups.

My wife’s minestrone soup was very, very good.  She let me try it.  Seems like I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was really thick and had pieces of pasta and vegetable in it.

Mob Photo 30-Dec-2009 PM 11 30 56

I asked for the cream of mushroom soup.  It wasn’t watered down at all.  It was also very thick and could’ve been a light lunch by itself if it came with a piece of bread.

The soups were a real treat.  They reminded me of the soups we used to get at OrganiCafExperience in Century Square’s basement level, before it closed.

The main dishes:

My wife's mushroom stuffed ravioli.
My wife’s mushroom stuffed ravioli.
My baked beef lasagna.
My baked beef lasagna.

The sauces were delicious and the servings were just the right size.  I can’t believe how good the food is there, considering the way the place looks and the relatively low cost of the meals.  We’ll definitely be going back!

Spinach Bacon OmuRice From Manpuku

Lunch on Sunday was Spinach Bacon OmuRice from the Manpuku restaurant in Tampines 1.  I didn’t remember seeing the stall before and the dishes looked interesting so I thought I’d give it a try.  I was later told by a friend that it was added recently.

As you can see from the picture, this dish is a big tasty omelet covered in a white cream sauce with bacon and spinach.  I was actually disappointed with how little spinach there was on the dish.  I was hoping for more.  There was a nice amount of bacon, but it wound up not being enough either.

You see, I had sort of expected there to be a more interesting filling in this omelet, but instead it was filled with just plain fried rice and a very small amount of mushrooms.  I think I sifted through the rice and only found 5 tiny pieces of mushroom total.

It was tasty, but as soon as the sauce, bacon and spinach were gone, the rest of it became rather bland.  A good dish introduces a lot of variety, to keep your mouth and tastebuds happy.  This one just didn’t do the trick for me and I don’t think I’ll order it again.

Strangely enough, we wound up meeting friends later in the evening at this same restaurant and one of them ordered the exact same dish.  She didn’t finish it either and commented on how it wasn’t very good after the toppings were gone.

BBQ Chicken Revisited

Over the weekend my wife and I spent quite a bit of time out and about and we happened to find ourselves at Tampines 1 as evening approached.  We started thinking about where we wanted to have dinner when we saw the Tampines 1 branch of BBQ Chicken.  I believe it’s a local chain restaurant.  We’d eaten there before and the food was pretty decent, so we decided to give it another shot.

This time, we both chose meals from the main course selection.  I got the “Jerk BBQ” and my wife got the “Korean Charbroiled”.  We had a good laugh about that because when I ordered it she said, “Figures”.  Ha ha ha!  We also had another order of an appetizer called Koshi.  There’s a picture of that in the previous post that’s linked to above.

One of the problems I noticed with this restaurant is that they don’t seem to understand the concept of “appetizer”.  It’s supposed to come before the food so you have something to snack on while you wait for your main course.  In both of our visits to BBQ Chicken, at both locations, the appetizer was served along with the main meal, as if it were a side dish.

That aside, the food was pretty good.  It’s still nothing to get excited about, but it makes for a decent dinner.

Here are some pictures:

The top image is the Jerk BBQ and the bottom image is the Korean Charbroiled.  Ya, there’s quite a bit of bad grammar in the menu and in the slogans along the walls.  I should get some photos of that and post it sometime.

What we always want to try, but wind up not having room in our bellies for, is a dessert called Pat Bing Soo.  It sounds delicious!  One of these days we’ll have to go there just to have that dessert.  Here’s a shot of the Pat Bing Soo entry in the menu that shows the ingredients:

OrganiCafeXperience & Teadot

Yesterday was my wife and I’s 1st anniversary.  It was sort of a shame that she had to work, but we still tried to make the most of the evening by having a nice dinner.  We went to the bottom floor of Century Square Mall to OrganiCafeXperience.  She didn’t really know where we were going.  She loves the place, but it’s a bit pricey so we don’t go often and haven’t been there in about 7 months or so.  I think she assumed I wanted to get something from the pet store down there, but then I just stopped and shuffled her into the waiting area to be seated.  She had a great smile on her face!

I’m sure you can tell from the name of the place, but OrganiCafeXperience is an organic foods restaurant.  Like I said before, it’s a bit pricey but the food is very much worth it.  After eating at this place, I wonder if all food would taste as good if it were grown naturally, without chemicals.  Most organic foods I’ve eaten do have a cleaner, richer taste to them, but anything organic comes with a premium cost, so it’s more of a treat than a norm for us, and for our families.

We sat down and took some time to browse through the menu. We decided to start with an appetizer, the Wild Mushroom Soup, along with garlic bread, which you can see I couldn’t wait to take a bite out of. The soup is very creamy and has small and large pieces of button and shitake mushrooms in it. The taste is really rich and I could see myself making a lunch out of just one big bowl of it. The garlic bread was icing on the cake. It was crispy and moist at the same time and was made with real butter and chopped garlic. I don’t know how they do it. I always had to cheat and use some garlic powder to get my garlic bread to taste anywhere near as good as this was. Our bowls of soup didn’t last long! We devoured them!

After that, it was time to move on to the main courses.  I chose a beef tenderloin dish and my wife chose a dish with lamb.  The beef tenderloin dish was delicious.  The two pieces of meat came on a bed of noodles with a brown sauce and was topped by two grilled tomatoes and a fluff of alfalfa.  One thing I love about the food here, and that’s maybe common with organic food, is that I could taste all of the different ingredients.  The alfalfa was crisp and vibrant.  The beef tasted great.  The broccoli was crunchy and fresh.  Even the noodles had their own distinct, enjoyable taste.  Plus, there were bits of ham mixed in with the pasta that added to the flavor.  I cleaned my plate.  Best of all, the portion was just the right size.  Even after clearing my plate entirely, I felt full but not stuffed.  I tried some of my wife’s lamb, but she was enjoying it so much that I didn’t take much.  In exchange I offered her some of the beef from my plate.  She said it was delicious.

The downsides to this restaurant is that the location isn’t that great.  The restaurant is separated into two areas.  There’s the preparation area and the storefront which is situated in a storefront along the wall.  Then there’s the seating area which is a separate, sectioned off area along the escalator that leads down into the lower level.  It’s not great ambiance, but the food makes up for it.  Also, the drinks are nothing to get excited about.  We actually didn’t order any drinks this time, because the first time we ate there they weren’t only unimpressive, but rather bad.

So, after dinner, we moved on to Teadot in Tampines 1 mall to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a cafe and sip on… ya, some tea!  I had a Royal Earl Grey Tea Latte, and my wife had a drink called Iced Dragon’s Brew.  It was made with oolong tea and some citrus I think.  I’ll have to go over the menu again.  I fully intend to go back.  It’s one of my favorite hang-outs for beating the heat.

We sat at Teadot for about 40 minutes, sipping our tea and using the free wi-fi.  Then we wandered around and did a little window shopping.  It wasn’t long before 10 PM came around and the mall was closing up, so we headed home.

Our 1st anniversary evening was nothing extravagant, but it was tasty, and we had fun!  We’ll be following up on our celebrations this weekend at Sentosa Island, where we plan on riding the luge and checking out Underwater World.  Expect photos!

Cosplay and Dance Routine Mascots at Tampines 1

We were walking out of the Tampines 1 mall to take a shortcut down to the lower level and heard loud music playing and saw a crowd gathering. I ran over to see what was going on and immediately got my camera out. This is kinda weird, and not something I’d ever expected to see going on as a mall promotion. I’m not entirely sure it was the mall they were promoting, though. I saw a Tampines 1 logo on one of their suits, but the wading pool in front of them had a message about renewing energy, so it could have been a mall sponsored energy conservation promotion.

[Update: I found out that the mall has a blog and that these guys are promoting the Amore Living store on the 5th floor, which has an outdoor pool on the roof, as part of their fitness complex.]This second group surely had something to do with a toy store. I quickly took a few pictures. Then a woman asked if I wanted my photo taken with them. She looked like she was wearing a jacket with a business logo on it so I was scared she was going to ask for money. I politely said no and then quickly retreated!

Manpuku Restaurant, Tampines 1 Mall

A few weeks ago I was checking around the new mall in Tampines (Tampines 1) and I saw the entrance to a restaurant called Manpuku.  The entrance area was jam packed with people in line to get in and people ogling the items on display in the window:

I met up with my wife there during her lunch break and while we were walking around together we even got to see the mascot.  At the time we didn’t know what restaurant or store the mascot represented but it was fun anyways.

We both love to go out and eat, and we particularly love Japanese food, so we were excited about going to check this place out.  We finally made a visit to Manpuku today and it was great!

It wasn’t quite what I expected, in a good and interesting way.  As you get to the head of the line a greeter will ask you how many people are in your party and will then pass you a corresponding number of cards that look and act like credit cards.  The waiter will explain that as you walk around inside the restaurant, you pick different foods from the various stalls and the price of the item is charged to your assigned card.  At the end of your meal, you bring the card to the cashier by the exit and settle your bill.

That’s when I realized that Manpuku isn’t simply one restaurant.  It’s a collection of restaurants acting under one name, serving Japanese style food.  In fact, the place reminded me of a big, themed food court, though a very well appointed one.

Here are some photos we took inside Manpuku:

As you can see from the pictures, the interior of Manpuku is pretty big.  It sits at one end of the mall on the 3rd floor and stretches from front to back.  There are at least half a dozen different mini-restaurants inside, offering everything from skillet plates to sushi.

The prices have a wide range from a bit on the high side (a four piece sushi plate at 38 bucks) to the affordable (my pork okas was 9.90).  I saw quite a few dishes I want to try, and I’m looking forward to going back again.  For this trip, we wound up having a sushi set, a dish called pork okas, and a soup that my wife devoured and said was delicious.  I forgot to ask her what it was and she’s asleep now!  Just thinking about it is making me hungry again!

The above picture is the pork okas.  It has strips of pork along with cabbage, onions, and maybe a few other things cooked into an egg omelette.  It’s topped with four different sauces while it’s still on the grill, giving it a nice design that adds a visually pleasing aspect to the tasty dish.
Like I said, the place is great!  We’re looking forward to our next trip.
One special consideration for anyone planning to go there is that the place is busy.  Expect to wait for up to 15 to 20 minutes for your dish to be prepared, and, unless you’re lucky, another 5 to 10 minutes to get a drink.  A good workaround for this is having one person hold the table for you and designating someone else to order and pick-up their food for them.  That way you can leave your food at the table while making trips to get drinks, or other goodies, without having to worry about someone else helping themselves to what you’re going to pay for.

Cosplayers at Tampines 1

I’m not entirely sure what they were advertising, but their outfits were really great, so I took some photos.

Toy Soldier and Toy Maid
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid Routine
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid Routine
Toy Soldier and Toy Maids
Toy Soldier and Toy Maids

They were even acting the part!  They would only move when someone “wound up” the key on their backs and then after a while they would stop again.  It was very fun to watch for a while!

By the way, in that third photo, the guy is totally checking out that girl’s “buttons”!  Ha ha ha!