Take the elevator to the 56th floor of ION Orchard in Singapore and you will find yourself amongst the clouds and taking in the majestic panoramic views from one of the best Sky Bar's in the world. Known for its classic French techniques infused with Australian flavor profiles, this journey to the heavens is one to remember.
While on a respite with friends to Singapore we thought it would be fun to enjoy classic afternoon tea service. After a brief amount of time researching some of the many options in the area we decided on Salt Grill & Sky Bar for its pleasant reviews and breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows, 5-star service and contemporary cuisine.
Our server was originally from Ukraine and had been in Singapore for many years. His previous employment on cruise ships had brought him to the islands of Hawaii in the past and he had fond memories. It was very enjoyable to chit chat with him and he was very well informed about the region, the people and provided exquisite service. Heralded Celebrity Chef and Restauranteur Luke Mangan infuses his contemporary flare with classic style and grace at this notable location.
The Afternoon Tea menu included your choice of tea or coffee for $42 and a glass of NV Champagne Lanson Black Label Brut for $52. We all opted for champagne to start then the delightful and delicious savory and sweet delicacies followed. Savory sandwiches included perfectly prepared crab salad, open-faced tomato with fresh burrata on focaccia, cured king salmon on brioche, a mini croque madame topped with quail's egg and a mushroom and goat cheese tart. All were phenomenal. They were just the right size, perhaps a tad larger than we had expected and paired perfectly with our champagne.
On to the sweets: white chocolate lamington, mini pavlova with fresh fruits, miso caramel tart, chocolate truffles, lemon meringue tart, macarons and of course house made scones with fresh jelly, whipped cream and pipping hot tea. These were a sight to see and so beautiful. Each was quite flavorful and busting with sweet then tart and sweet again on our tongues. For some the miso caramel tart was a bit overwhelming but overall the treats delighted us and after enjoying mostly everything we were all stuffed.
The tea selections were a nice blend of classic herbs and were soothing. Coffee was also an option for those who didn't desire tea they had everything from espresso to macchiato.
Overall, I would highly recommend this restaurant for its breathtaking views, impeccable service, generous and expertly crafted bites and an impressive experience. From start to finish the team greeted us and said goodbye with class and grace. The views are imbedded on my mind, so much so the picturesque windows in the bathroom were noteworthy too.
Salt Grill & Sky Bar
2 Orchard Turn
While on a recent visit to Singapore we stumbled upon a PIZZA VENDING MACHINE. No kidding, it was on the street while we were looking for karaoke bars to sing at. (By the way, the area we were in didn't really have a bar where you can sit, eat, drink and sing -- they were mostly private rooms and one of the places we found required bottle service). Anyway -- we ordered our pizza and took it back to the room. Watch the video for my food revHEU.
Amazing dumplings!! Yep, I traveled 21 hours to Singapore and had to sample a restaurant that has made soup in noodles an addiction. Din Tai Fung is known for it's authentic Taiwanese xiao long bao (soup dumpling) and is heralded around the world for its impressive lineup of dim sum style offerings. Now with master locations in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, the mainland U.S. and of course Singapore, they truly share their food with the world.
The moment you arrive the restaurant is crowded and bustling with diners and servers. There is a significant line of people waiting to get in and each are given a number and a menu to preorder their dishes. As a larger group we didn't have to wait too long for a table, thankfully. Everything is ala carte from water to the dumplings, vegetables and bao buns. Service is quick, efficient and they don't bother with small talk or extra chit chat. It's fast paced and the food comes out steaming hot - literally.
Broken into appetizers, soup dumplings, steamed dumplings, greens, noodles & wontons, buns and soups the menu is big! We pretty much ordered all the XiaoLongBao available and a triple order of the Truffle Pork XLB. I love truffle but the pieces of truffle within the filling were barely enough for me to taste and there may have been some truffle oil in the soup but it wasn't strong enough for me to proclaim this the best dumpling ever. In fact, I think I preferred the traditional pork or pork & crab. The shao mai is delicate and expertly made. I also lo lo lo loved the Vegetable & Pork Wontons in Spicy Sauce (don't worry the sauce wasn't spicy it was more flavorful). The noodle was so delicate and fresh, the ingredients were tender and meaty and the sauce was perfect for dipping everything in. This was outstanding to me!
When you see a Din Tai Fung be sure to stop in and try the XLB and Wontons.
Enter into a world of dots, dots, more dots and mirrors... One of the most celebrate artists of all time is not only a lady, but also of Japanese descent, now 88 years-old Yayoi Kusama is a living legend known for her mixed media work. What started on canvas and merged into sculpture, then video and performance art has also evolved into an experiential exhibit. You may have seen images in Honolulu of pink blobs with black polka dots in and around town, then photos of people standing in a room with lights and more dots that appear to go on into infinity. These installations and exhibits were started by the Japanese artist originally from Nagano and who later moved to New York to hone her craft.
An award-winning artist, novelist and anti-war advocate Kusama's works have circled the globe. Her art is often inspired by her obsession with dots and infinity, but with that she also focuses on love, life and dreams. The engaging installations are installed in a room with dots everywhere or within boxes that are lined with mirrors. I saw this exhibit on the last day of the installation in Singapore (National Gallery Singapore) and the lines seemed to snake through the museum all day long, even with a reservation. Upon entry and display of her earlier works you see how her obsession with dots began. Her creation of painted nets sparked the design that she would craft for her entire career. Then in the 60's the mirror rooms began. Aimed to allow a person to stand in a room with infinite possibilities and on an endless journey now guests are limited to 12-20 seconds in the room and most are not alone as I was with 2 other friends. So over time the element of what the art work was truly created for may be lost but the supply and demand has gone up. I would rather spend 12 seconds in a room with others than wait any longer in a line to stand in the room for 60 seconds.
In the end, it was a great experience and I would highly recommend visiting a Kusama exhibit if it comes to your area. It is truly unique and a great show for all the senses.
You can find her exhibits:
October 2017 - January 2018 The Broad, Los Angeles
March 2018-May 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario
July 2018 - October 2018 Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
I've landed back home in Hawaii and realized I jaywalked on my last night in Singapore. Don't worry, I wasn't arrested, nothing happened and everyone is home safe and sound. Actually all the things you may have heard about strict punishments, intense laws and over organization in Singapore didn't even dawn on me until after I left. The "city state" is so immaculate, perfectly developed and well executed that you learn to appreciate how organized everything is. From the unbelievably spotless mass transit to the rich culture and extreme diversity -- Singapore truly is a land of opportunity for people of all races and at the forefront of sustainability.
Overall I was very impressed by the kindness of the residents, the immense melting pot of cultures (mostly Chinese, Malay and Indian), the delicious and affordable foods and the impressive attractions for visitors and locals alike. From museums, to parks, to national monuments there is so much to see, do and explore along the streets of Singapore.
Because it is a peninsula, Singapore is bustling with ships and cargo making its way in and out of the second busiest port in the world. Most of the people there speak English (largely in part to the former colonization of the region by the British and the subsequent free trade policy) which makes it fairly easy to communicate. The dollar is different there (conversion= $1 Singapore Dollar equals 0.74 US cents) and the money is also very clean, crisp and mostly white. The mass transit seats are so clean and sparkling new you could eat off of them and there literally is no litter anywhere, well I saw a napkin on the ground once near a shopping mall.
I will have upcoming blogs featuring the highlights of my trip. This blog is kind of an intro to the location, where I went and what to do. In the end, be prepared to be amazed, wowed, eat A LOT, and there are many opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and a bountiful community of cultures.
Like many north shore communities in Hawaii, Paia is charming, hip, cultured and fun. I love to walk through the streets and discover new places to shop, browse and dine at. For a few months I've been eyeing up the delicious plates at Paia Inn Cafe and finally had a moment to sit down, visit for brunch and try a good amount of their specialities.
Paia Inn Cafe is located along the makai end of Paia Inn, you walk along the corridor and find yourself in this cozy outdoor patio.
A few years ago, while I was in television broadcast news, I did a story on the inn and its long-standing history. I always thought the location was stellar and the vibe was a great combination of chic mixed with rustic. I was delighted to see they transformed the back patio into a lovely, al fresco, open-air, outdoor dining area complete with live entertainment. To cut straight to the point -- this place is super cute!
A great place for brunch, this hot spot is open everyday 8am-1pm. When we visited Eric Gilliom was performing live with his acoustic guitar and strong voice it created a soothing soundtrack for the morning meal.
The eatery showcases freshly made juices and also invigorating juice shots. Currently, they are BYOB. If you bring in your own bottle of bubbly or wine they will discreetly provide you with cups and whatever else you need. The menu is plentiful and offers a good range of breakfast items, brunch delights, eggs, salads and sandwiches. I had heard that the prices were really high, but was surprised to see they were pretty standard as far as diner and brunch (restaurant/cafe) entrees are concerned.
First of all, the dishes are beautiful and very photogenic. They are each bursting with color, freshness and are generous in portion-size. I was a little jealous of my friend who ordered the smoked salmon avocado toast. it was almost too pretty to eat. The serving is good, the toppings are overflowing and the lox tender and fresh. The only critique I have is the avocado had a mild bitter/metallic flavor almost likened to the prepackaged/bagged guacamole you buy from mass produced outlets. $17 ($14 +$3 for lox).
As an Eggs Benedict afionado, these were spot on! The Foccacia bread is nicely toasted and has a good crunch, the prosciutto is a lovely salty, crispy element, eggs are poached perfectly, the hollandaise is on-point and its served with house potatoes and a small side of fresh greens. $17
Not going to lie, my Lox & Eggs scramble was not as pretty as the other dishes, but it sure was delicious and such a hefty portion. Served with fresh avocado, white truffle, cream cheese, potatoes and greens this was so large I couldn't finish it all. The truffle has a nice earthy element, while the cream cheese adds in a comforting milky cream essence and the avocado helps to breakup the meatiness of the lox. This would also be really great on a crisp bagel $16.
The Breakfast Board is killer! Served with avocado, pork belly, lox, boiled egg, pickles vegetables, seasonal fruits, tomato crudo and crackers this was a beautiful presentation, nice and hearty and all of the items complimented each other. You had some salty, fatty, sour, sweet, fresh, crisp, I loved the elements and would also like to make this at home, it's great for sharing and if you order this just for yourself you may need a takeout box. $19
Overall, this was a stellar meal. The service was excellent, our waitress was well informed, attentive yet not overbearing. The atmosphere is beautiful (the sun was blocked by the umbrellas and trees) but it can get a little steamy as the cafe is in the open air. I made my reservation online via Open Table and noted that we were celebrating a birthday, but nothing was mentioned, noted or addressed, which was fine but mildly disappointing. They are currently working on getting their liquor license so you can expect some craft cocktails and brunchy beverages possibly in the works.
If you're in the mood for a delightful brunch with beautiful, fresh, vibrant food I would highly recommend this cafe as one of my Ono Eats choices on Maui.
Paia Inn Cafe
93 Hana Highway
Paia, HI 96779
*My understanding is they offer a 10% off Kamaaina Discount Monday-Thursday.