Bakers Nurhasanah Johari, 41, and Chalith Kariyawasam, 38, who used to run Woodlands Sourdough in Serene Centre, are back from a year of travelling, during which they went to Australia, Europe and the Middle East, working in bakeries, eating and learning.
It must have been quite a year because the bread at their new shop in The Longhaus, along Upper Thomson Road, is better than ever. The loaves, made with whole grains such as spelt, rye and kamut, are aromatic, nutty, solid and crusty.
Woodlands Sourdough, named after the suburb in which they live, has scant seating – two benches at the entrance and colourful painted stools from Sri Lanka. The taller ones will work as makeshift tables.
In their Serene Centre days, they served toast with interesting toppings. Now, they are more focused on takeaways.
Still, there are sandwiches to eat there, if you can find a seat.
The one I had was made with a substantial sourdough roll covered with sesame seeds, supremely aromatic and stuffed with a cheddar omelette, sweet caramelised onions and leeks, lettuce and tomato ($9, above right). This is a good introduction to their wares if you are not familiar with their brand. The sandwich is simple and hearty, the bread excellent.
Pocket Bread ($3.50 each), with chilli and cheese, is off-the-charts crusty. It does not need anything else – no butter, no fillings. Just good as it is, and I like the little jolt I get when I bite into a slice of chilli.
The Spelt bread ($9 a loaf) has a nutty vibe from the grain and that sour tang I love. Toasted and buttered, it makes a great breakfast.
But save room for the other baked goods, also made with whole grains.
Buckwheat Chocolate Sea Salt Cookie ($3), gluten-free, barely holds together. Break off a chunk and it is fudgy in the middle. Perfect with a gulp of milk.
Also intensely chocolatey is the Rye Hazelnut Almond Brownie ($5.50), loaded with whole nuts. Both are what I would call substantial – these are not empty calories.
If you have a chocolate craving, either of these will fix it. And you will not feel guilty for having indulged. Certainly I have no regrets.
I even get a Big ‘Ol Cinnamon Bun ($5), which is as large as my palm. When I lift it from bag to plate, I marvel at its heft. Curiously, the bun is not dense, neither does it hammer the palate with cinnamon. There is just enough of the sweet, warm spice for you to know it is there.
New to the store are frangipane tarts ($5 each) encased in homey pastry. The seasonal version features berries, but I prefer the poached pear one because it goes so beautifully with the almond filling.
Usually, I steer clear of frangipane because it is teeth-achingly sweet. This one is not.
I am so happy they are back in Singapore.
On Sundays, there is pizza from noon. See you there.
WHERE: Woodlands Sourdough, 01-03 The Longhaus, 183 Upper Thomson Road
OPEN: 8.30am to 5pm (Thursdays to Sundays)
INFO: www.facebook. com/WoodlandsSD
TRY BEFORE STOCKING UP
People who are commitment-phobes must surely be having a field day. Those who are not panic buying can wander through supermarkets and food stores, pick up food and have it cooked on the spot. Try before they buy in bulk.
Ryan’s Kitchen, at the newly revamped Great World City, offers that service and diners can choose from a list of condiments and side dishes to have with the steaks and sausages, which they can select from the adjacent Ryan’s Grocery.
I have a Mushroom Swiss Burger ($25) with a wagyu patty ($5 extra, above). There is also Australian grain-fed and, for $3 more, diners can have an organic patty. The wagyu patty, cooked medium-rare, is free of gristle and juicy.
Fat pieces of mushroom sit on top, under a Swiss cheese blanket. It is a delicious burger, with a good sear on the meat, sandwiched between brioche bun halves. I could, if I had wanted, chosen a keto-friendly bread, made with soya flour, oat fibre, whey powder and wheat bran.
I hardly make a dent in the menu, but this is looking to be a good place for repeat visits, mostly because the food is good and the staff are friendly and engaging.
There are, however, two minor quibbles.
The glass of Sangiovese ($18) I order with my meal is served too cold and the restaurant is similarly chilly.
I object, despite my enduring and ever-lasting love of air-conditioning, for this simple reason: The food gets cold too quickly.
There is, however, a very flimsy silver lining to all this. It stops me from eating all the excellent fries served with the burger. They are beautiful – thick-cut just the way I like them, greaseless and crisp on the outside.
Cold fries are nasty. But I am so tempted to just eat them all before attacking the burger. Or maybe just order the fries. Next time.
WHERE: Ryan’s Kitchen, B1-144/146 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade
OPEN: 9am to 10pm (Mondays to Fridays), 8am to 10pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
EXCELLENT GADO GADO WORTH THE PRICE
Stalking food places is part of my job and I have learnt to be somewhat patient.
Take Yunos N Family, a stall in Ang Mo Kio. A chef I know tells me it serves excellent mee rebus and gado gado. But I make three trips there and it is always closed.
Recently, because I am craving spice after rounds of Chinese New Year food, I go a fourth time.
Success – it is open and I join the queue.
Looking at the menu on display, I am intrigued by Gado Gado Tarik ($6.10, left) and Mee Rebus Tarik ($5.10). What makes them different from the regular versions?
It turns out, the pricier ones come with three sticks of satay – beef, mutton or chicken.
The gado gado is excellent. Rich, creamy, nutty gravy is ladled lavishly over rice cakes, tempeh, crisp morsels of dough, cabbage, a hard-boiled egg and the juicy mutton satay. Fish keropok, onion and cucumber decorate the top.
Textures and flavours come at me at warp speed. I do not fear raw onion when it is drowned in warm peanut sauce.
Next to it, the mee rebus is insipid, alas. I want to like it, but it lacks punch and spice. That is a pity because the gravy is so smooth.
I hear the mee soto is delicious. But it will be hard not to order the gado gado again.
WHERE: Yunos N Family, 01-01 Ang Mo Kio Food Centre, Block 724 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6
MRT: Ang Mo Kio
OPEN: 11am to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
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