Bites: Ramen Two Ways, Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen, JEM

Sometimes we see a place so often we can’t recall what it looks like. Sometimes we leave a place so long it seems to have changed dramatically when we return, even if they haven’t. So it is with Chinese Garden. Walking through it with Dad, about ten years after my last visit, and everything is nice – but somehow off. It turns out I’ve been remembering locations and scenery all wrong all this while.

In short, it was nice, but also disorienting. The sort of feeling that makes you want some food that anchors yourself. So it’s a good thing Jurong’s got plenty such places – places like Tonkotsu Kazan.

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Bites: Snacks and Popsicles, Poppy Pops, JEM

There’s nothing quite like dessert to make old Babette ponder the big questions of life. In the case of Poppy Pops, the obvious question is – is it better to serve ice cream in a cup or cone, or on a stick? This is an important question, for from an objective perspective, popsicles are clearly worse. The whole ice cream is exposed, providing a bigger surface area for melting. Licking is an ungraceful activity that only speeds up the melting, after which gravity naturally pulls the melted ice cream onto the hand that’s holding it. And you can’t take a small sample of a popsicle, either.

It’s a poor arrangement, but for one thing. It looks great. It’s photogenic, it shows off the ice cream. And in the days of Instagram, maybe that’s enough. Thankfully Popppy Pops doesn’t stop at merely good looking. They work a little harder.

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Babette Unleashed: Envy Coffee and Griddy Gourmet Waffles

Envy Coffee Fusionopolis Interior

A lot of great cooking, we’ve been told over and over again, is about the triumph of ingenuity over material limitations. When your range of ingredients is limited by the seasons or by poverty, when fuel is not plentiful or decomposition and decay threaten your food – these are the circumstances under which cooking styles and dishes became time-honoured classics.

This does not, however, mean that limitations are what makes the food great. And this comes to mind when the manager at Envy Coffee, contrition all over his face, explains why the har jeong gai in the eponymous sandwich has not gone the way of most har jeong gai, into the deep fryer. ‘It’s because open-flame cooking is not allowed here,’ he says. Envy’s answer to that is to grill the marinated patty and reanimate it in house. Personally, my suggested answer would be to go through the cookbook and find another way to season the chicken. 

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