Monday, 31 August 2020

Our top picks of Singapore brands and businesses for August 2020

*Produced by SilverKris for the following advertisers*

Nook & Cranny offers a stylish range of contemporary furniture and home accessories

Nook & Cranny

Online furniture retailer Nook & Cranny is home to a diverse array of furnishings and home accessories, boasting styles that run the gamut from vintage bohemian to contemporary chic. With outlets in Changi and Bukit Timah, this hidden gem features a wide-ranging catalogue that includes luxury bed frames made from Italian leather, which will lend a look of sleek sophistication to any interior, and Scandi-inspired outdoor furniture. Leather sofas, cowhide rugs, art pieces and quirky, one-of-a-kind knick knacks, such as animal-themed candle holders and vintage-inspired mirrors, are also among this Singapore brand’s offerings.;; +65 9383 1176

Sunday Shirt’s collection of men’s shirts features whimsical prints and vibrant hues

Sunday Shirt

A homegrown menswear brand established in 2018, Sunday Shirt is known for pairing short-sleeve button-ups with whimsical prints ranging from Japanese cranes to pineapples. Offering a trendier take on the Hawaiian shirt, its offerings are made with 100% cotton, which doesn’t wrinkle as easily as rayon and prevents colours from running. Sunday Shirt’s colourful garments – available for purchase online – are also versatile enough to suit both casual and formal settings. Not to mention, some of its designs come in children’s sizes as well, making way for plenty of outfit matching opportunities for the whole family.;

The Charcoal Golden Emerald mooncake is among its latest additions

Bread Garden

Bread Garden is a halal-friendly brand specialising in gourmet cookies, cakes, pastries, breads, as well as mooncakes, which are handcrafted in Singapore with the finest ingredients and encased in exquisitely designed gift boxes. Try the Golden Emerald mooncake with its delectable golden brown crust and a sweet-savoury filling made with granular salted egg yolk and pandan-flavoured lotus seed paste. A trendier option, the newly unveiled Charcoal Golden Emerald mooncake has an impressive jet-black crust. Or better yet, go for an assortment of flavours with the Signature Diamond Jewel Treasure Set, a two-tier box inspired by Jewel Changi that contains four mooncakes – the Golden Emerald, Charcoal Golden Emerald, Golden Red Emerald and Golden Royale.;; +65 9795 6033

Mushroom Kingdom’s range of air-fried mushroom snacks are vegan and halal-friendly

Mushroom Kingdom

Mushroom Kingdom is a Singapore-based brand that produces mushroom snacks made with ingredients grown without pesticides or chemical fertilisers. An advocate of healthy eating, its signature, air-fried offerings include Black Pepper Shiitake Chips, Original Shiitake Chips and Oriental Spice Oyster Mushroom Chips – all of which are vegan and halal-certified, perfect for guilt-free snacking. Mushroom Kingdom also sells mushroom-cultivating kits for you to grow your own food, mushroom condiments – its Spicy Shiitake Sauce works well as a seasoning or mixed with rice – alongside fresh mushrooms of every variety, from king oyster to portobello.; 

Shi Le Po’s salted egg potato chips are made with real salted egg yolks

Shi Le Po

Satisfy your salted egg cravings with Shi Le Po’s salted egg potato chips, which are made with real salted egg yolks (rather than salted egg powder) and oven-baked for a crunchier finish without any excess grease. Established in 2017 by a trio of friends, the Singaporean snack brand – taking inspiration from local flavours and zi char recipes – is also known for its line of fish skin snacks, available in flavours such as salted egg, black pepper crab, and ginger and spring onion. Drop by any outlet of The Cocoa Trees to purchase them.;; +65 6684 7767

Yunohana is the only spa in Singapore that uses hokutolite stones in its treatments


Nestled on the third floor of Pacific Plaza, Yunohana is the only spa in Singapore that uses mineral-packed hokutolite stones, which help to detoxify the body, from the Tamagawa Hot Spring in Akita prefecture in its treatments. It specialises in alternative treatments that focus on boosting blood circulation, metabolism and immunity. Try the signature Bedrock Spa Therapy, a dry onsen treatment that uses hokutolite stones, far-infrared rays and negatively charged ions to deliver warm temperatures and high humidity as you lie on a bed of rocks.; +65 6262 5573

Eye Level Singapore focuses on one-on-one coaching for kids aged between three and 14

Eye Level Singapore

An award-winning education centre specialising in supplemental English and mathematics programmes for children ages three to 14, Eye Level Singapore offers one-on-one lessons – both online and offline – tailored to the learning needs of each child. Its educators are trained to understand each child’s point-of-view, and the centre’s learning philosophy values self-directed, lifelong learning and future-friendly skills over solely focusing on short-term academic goals. Part of a franchise that originated in South Korea in 1986, Eye Level has now expanded to 20 countries around the world, including 17 outlets in Singapore.;; +65 6397 6117

The Handheld Portable UV Steriliser emits UV light to disinfect surfaces without the use of chemicals

Fresh Breath

Founded by Elizabeth Teo in 2008 under parent company Advance Lifestyles, Fresh Breath is a Singapore-based brand that distributes top-notch healthcare products, sourced from around the world. Among its most popular items are the SoFresh Tongue Cleaner, a specialised tool that tackles the oft-neglected tongue surface, on which odour-causing bacteria lingers; and the AcuHandMassager, which uses acupressure to alleviate aches and anxiety. If you’re looking for a chemical-free alternative to eliminate bacteria from surfaces, consider the Handheld Portable UV Steriliser, which emits purple UV light to disinfect the environment without the need for any physical contact.;; +65 9754 5485

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How to choose the right mattress for you

*Produced by SilverKris for Woosa*

You’ve perfected your night-time routine: lavender mist, no screen time, 10 minutes of meditation and a full eight hours of sleep. So how come you’re still waking up tired and sore? Chances are you’re sleeping on a bad mattress.

Choosing a mattress isn’t something the average person has the faintest clue about. There are many aspects to consider, from the density of the product to the material it’s made of. You also have to know which sleeping position you favour to determine which mattress suits you best.

To make sure your next purchase isn’t one you’ll regret, we speak to Tyler Peh, co-founder of Singapore-based bedding brand Woosa, on what makes a quality mattress and why comfort is just as important as support.

Not enjoying restful sleep? It might be because of your mattress. Photo credit:

What are some tips for choosing the perfect mattress?

Selecting the right mattress is the balance of four factors: comfort, support, durability and price. A good start would be to understand the materials used in the mattress to know exactly what you’re paying for. Ideally, the perfect mattress should use the right proportions of high-quality materials that are best suited to your preferred firmness, without costing too much. We find that for most users, the perfect mattress is a medium level of firmness – soft on the initial feel, but firm enough on deeper levels to offer enough support.

Which mattress material is the best?

While springs and generic PU foams are commonly used in the majority of mattresses, we find that latex and memory foam offer the best overall performance. Latex is extensively researched to be one of the best materials in the industry. It offers superior comfort, excellent weight distribution for all kinds of sleepers and is extremely durable. As a natural material, latex is also free of harmful chemicals. There are also different classes of latex from regular Dunlop latex to the premium Talalay and Sonocore latex, which offer even greater levels of comfort. A good piece of latex should be nice and consistent in terms of firmness and density, not trap heat and be tested to last without flaking or disintegrating.

A firmer mattress may not be a good fit for side sleepers

You also mentioned memory foam – tell us more.

Due to its high conforming nature, memory foam is the best for providing support and pressure relief. As it reacts to the body’s weight and heat, memory foam gently sinks and hugs the heavier parts of the body, like the hips and shoulders, to alleviate pressure. High-quality memory foam is designed to minimise heat retention, have a short memory period and be made with certified safe ingredients.

There’s an assumption that firmer mattresses are better. Is this true?

This is a common misconception. At the end of the day, selecting a mattress’s firmness largely depends on a user’s sleeping position and preferred comfort level. While a firmer mattress may better suit back sleepers, it is not the most comfortable mattress. Many people tend to switch positions unknowingly throughout the night, which means a firmer mattress may not be so suitable.

A good mattress can be plush, comfortable as well as supportive

Which is more important: comfort or support?

Some sleepers are afraid to seek out comfort for fear of sacrificing support, which makes sleeping simply a process instead of an enjoyable experience. A good mattress can be plush, comfortable and supportive enough to prevent backaches in the morning. In general, the mattress should have enough give and support to conform to the spine’s natural curvature. A mattress that is too firm, especially for side or stomach sleepers, may end up causing unnecessary pressure to fall on areas like the hips and shoulders.

How can you tell if your mattress is spoiling your sleep?

The most common sign of poor-quality sleep is when you wake up feeling unrested despite sleeping adequate hours, or experience some form of body ache in the morning. Feeling comfortable when you rest in bed is also extremely important. If you find that you’re dealing with broken springs or sunken foams, or simply can’t find the right position to be comfortable, it’s definitely time to change your mattress.

Woosa mattresses are made with a unique four-layer combination of thick, Belgian Sonocore latex and European quality memory foam

How do you ensure quality mattresses at Woosa?

We believe good-quality sleep starts with high-quality materials. The Woosa Mattress is made in Belgium, using the highest quality foams and fabrics. Our unique four-layer combination of thick, Belgian Sonocore latex and European quality memory foam creates a hybrid sleeping surface that offers the best of both worlds. The bouncy latex tops provide responsiveness and durability, while the memory foam gently conforms your body throughout the night – suitable for all sleepers and all different positions. All this is wrapped in a stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric from Italy to help the mattress stay cool and dry from sweat.

Unlike a traditional store where you try a mattress for a couple of minutes, Woosa Mattress also comes with a 100-day free trial. If you find it unsuitable, you can return it for a full refund.

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The first-ever floating Apple store is coming to Singapore

Apple’s upcoming futuristic store at Marina Bay Sands. Photo credit: Visuth.s /

For the design of its next outpost in the Lion City, Apple is pulling out all the stops.

Designed by long-time Apple collaborators Foster + Partners, the tech giant’s upcoming Marina Bay Sands store will be housed within an eye-catching, futuristic spherical structure that appears to float on the waters of Marina Bay. The store will be connected to the mall via an underwater passageway and will also be accessible via a footbridge.

Although Apple has yet to set an opening date or release further information, the retail outlet will be its third in Singapore, joining the existing Knightsbridge and Jewel Changi Airport locations. It occupies the space formerly held by mega nightclub Avalon from 2011 to 2016.

While we all wait with bated breath for Apple Marina Bay Sands store to open its doors, here are five other stunning Apple retail locations in the world for you to visit when the world opens up again.

Apple Pudong Shanghai
Apple’s flagship store in Shanghai’s Pudong District. Photo credit:

1. Shanghai, China

To get into this store in the bustling Pudong district, visitors make their way across a circular sunken plaza, cross a platform over a shallow pool, enter an eye-catching glass cylindrical structure and descend down a spiral staircase.

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Also designed by Foster + Partners, Apple’s Dubai location features carbon-fibre screens that shade the outside terrace during the day but open at night, allowing customers to glimpse stunning views of the Burj Khalifa.

Apple Fifth Avenue Cube New York City
Apple’s Fifth Avenue “Cube” retail store in New York. Photo credit:

3. Manhattan, New York

Reopened late last year following a significant renovation, the brand’s flagship Fifth Avenue store now includes skylights that allow natural light to flood into the space during the day, a redesigned spiral staircase and a public plaza designed as a community hangout.

4. Milan, Italy

Apple’s Milan retail outpost, which is located at the busy Piazza Liberty, features a dramatic water feature: an eight-metre-high fountain encased in glass. Beola Grigia, a type of granite native to Italy, was used for much of the store’s stunning interior.

Apple Regent Street London
The Apple store on London’s Regent Street. Photo credit:

5. London, United Kingdom

Located along the Regent Street shopping belt, this Apple store features a modern interior located within a heritage building with a Grade II-listed exterior. It features Castagna stone walls, white terrazzo flooring and plenty of indoor trees.

For more information and travel advisories, please visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.

SEE ALSO: 7 unexpected and alternative things to do in Singapore

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Get to know a city through film: Paris edition

It’s not an overstatement to say Paris is a city overflowing with art and beauty. The City of Love is home to the greatest number of museums in the world, including the world’s largest – The LouvreBut it’s not just in museums where you can witness breathtaking works of art. The streets of Paris offer life in technicolour – in fact, some of the best travel memories are made wandering the cobblestone paths in Montmartre or simply people-watching at any one of the chic cafés lining Saint-Germain-des-Prés  

With scenes of beauty at seemingly every corner, it’s no wonder Paris features prominently in countless films across the decades. While international travel is still limited for now, we picked out a few key locations from seven different movies to give you a flavour of Paris and inspire your next visit.  

1. River Seine (An American in Paris, 1951)

At 775km long, the Seine is a ubiquitous part of the city, running through the city all the way to the English Channel, and has inspired many artists over the years, including Impressionist painters Renoir and Monet. While this musical comedy film, which swept up seven Academy Awards in 1951 including one for “Best Motion Picture”, is ostensibly about a struggling young artist (played by Gene Kelly) who gets discovered by a wealthy art collector (played by Nina Foch), really, the highlights of the film are the many song-and-dance routines that take place on the streets of Paris. One number, of course, celebrates this iconic waterway – with Gene Kelly serenading the beautiful Leslie Caron as they dance along the River Seine under the romantic moonlight  

2. Champs-Élysées(À bout de souffle, 1960) 

Stretching for over 1.9km – from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde – the Champs-Élysées is Paris’ most famous shopping street. Lined with high-end boutiques, luxury hotels and famous restaurants, the Champs-Élysées has always been a popular draw for visitors to the French capital, and this includes fictional characters. In this 1960 crime drama from legendary director Jean-Luc Godard, American student Patricia (Jean Seberg) sells the New York Herald Tribune on the boulevards of Paris – including the Champs-Élysées – while housing her criminal-on-the-run French boyfriend, Michel (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) in her apartment. Breathless (its English title) was Godard’s first full-length feature film and was one of the earliest films that influenced the French New Wave movement.  

3. Montmartre (Amelie, 2001)

Also known as the artists’ quarter of Paris, Montmartre has long attracted the creative set – from Picasso and van Gogh to Dali and MatissePerhaps this is why director Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided to set his quirky, whimsical film in the heart of this artistic district. Starring Audrey TautouAmelie tells the tale of an eccentric waitress who works at the Cafe des Deux Moulins (an actual place you can visit) and sets out on a mission to improve the lives of the people around her. Other filming locations in Montmartre include Cinema 28, one of the oldest picture houses in Paris, and the historic Sacré-Cœur Basilica 

4. Shakespeare and CompanyBookstore (Before Sunset, 2004) 

In 1995 when Before Sunrise was released, audiences around the world were enamoured by the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a young American traveller who meets Céline (Julie Delpy) on a train and spends a night walking and talking in Vienna. They had made plans to meet six months later at the same train station but life got in the way. Nine years later, however, the two have another chance encounter in the famous Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris’ 5th arrondissement. First opened in 1919, this bookstore, with its distinctive green façade and rickety signage, has seen the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford pass through its hallowed doors. In the sequel Before SunsetJesse and Céline once again spend the night talking and the film takes us through a mini tour of Paris, from the Seine to the Coulée Verte René-Dumont, an elevated park above the city 


5. Palace of Versailles (Marie Antoinette, 2006)   

Covering a startling 63,000 and housing over 2,200 rooms, the Palace of Versailles is today a World Heritage Site and museumThis historical drama from Sofia Coppola traces the life of Maria Antonia (played by Kirsten Dunst), the young Archduchess of Austria who travels to France to marry the heir-apparent, the future Louis XVIMost of the film was filmed within the palace, including the stunning wedding scene in the Baroque-style Hall of Mirrors and the Neoclassical-style Petit Trianonan on-site chateau where the queen would come to escape the burden of royal responsibilities.  

Photo credit: Sony Pictures. The Da Vinci Code is available on disc and digital.

6. The Louvre (The Da Vinci Code, 2006) 

Based on Dan Brown’s 2003 bestselling book of the same name, this mystery thriller sees Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, an American professor of art history and symbology, teaming up with French police cryptologist Sophie Neveu to hunt down the Holy Grail. The Louvre Museum, housed within a former royal residence, features prominently in the movie, from the Hall of Napoleon (beneath the glass pyramid entrance) and the staircase of the Winged Victory of Samothrace to iconic art pieces from Leonardo Da Vinci such as The Virgin of the Rocks, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and of course, the Mona Lisa  

7. Arc de Triomphe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 2018) 

The Mission: Impossible series has always produced nail-biting action scenes (who can forget Tom Cruise climbing Dubai’s Burg Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol or being lowered by rope into a high-security room in CIA headquarters via an air duct in the first Mission: Impossible movie?) In this edition, Agent Ethan Hunt is in Paris and in one death-defying scene, drives against peak-hour traffic at the Arc de Triomphe. And yes, Tom Cruise does his own stunts. While all the cars in the scene were being driven by stuntmen, the Hollywood star was revving at top speed in the opposite direction. When it’s not the setting for adrenaline-pumping action films, this historic commemorative monument is an oft-photographed site for visitors of Paris. There is a small museum at the top of the Arc, which contains large models of the monument and tells its story of its construction.   

SEE ALSO: Get to know a city through film: Tokyo edition 

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Sunday, 30 August 2020

8 Japanese cafés to visit in Singapore

From sushi and sashimi to udon, oden, matcha, ramen, yakiniku and more, Japanese cuisine offers plenty of pleasures to be savoured regardless of your palate and preferences.

The Japanese are often lauded for their culinary skill and creativity – be it in terms of flavours, food presentation or the sheer effort that goes into preparing a meal. And with an almost reverent attention to quality and detail, it’s no surprise that Japan places second when it comes to ranking countries with the greatest number of Michelin-starred restaurants.

Although heading to the Land of the Rising Sun isn’t possible at the moment, here are eight cafés in Singapore you can pop by to satisfy your appetite for Japanese food.

Baristart Coffee
Don’t miss Baristart’s aromatic coffee and its signature cream puff

1. Baristart

Originating from Hokkaido, this Tras Street spot (they also have another outlet in Sentosa) employs the Japanese island’s sweet, creamy milk in its luscious coffees, dishes and desserts. We recommend sampling the carbonara pasta – which is made with rich Hokkaido milk and comes with an onsen tamago – and the famous cream puff, where a crispy shell encases a thick custard cream.

2. Emma

This popular Japanese dessert café – which has several outlets in Japan and locations at Plaza Singapura and 100 AM in Singapore – is known for its picture-perfect offerings, namely the gravity-defying soft serves made from premium Japanese milk. Fun fact: you can hold your cone upside down and it will still stay in place (cue the Instagram Boomerangs). The Singapore-exclusive Boba Taco Softie is certainly worth a try – it’s an airy wafer shaped like a taco that’s filled with milk soft serve and topped with chewy tapioca balls.

Boulangerie Asanoya
Boulangerie Asanoya’s curry donut

3. Boulangerie Asanoya

When Boulangerie Asanoya – which has operated in Japan since 1933 – opened its Singapore outpost on Queen Street in 2015, the outlet had the honour of being the storied brand’s first overseas venture. Freshly baked treats are the lure here, among them a curry donut and a sweet caramel apple cube. The bakery is also known for its rustic Japanese-style breads that are baked in a traditional stone oven.

Maccha House
Traditional Maccha at Maccha House

4. Maccha House

A green tea lover’s haven, Maccha House, which originated in Kyoto, serves an extensive menu of drinks and desserts infused with the beloved green tea variant at its various outlets across Singapore. Signatures include the Maccha Parfait, Maccha Latte and Maccha Lava Cake. If you aren’t a fan of green tea, you can still swing by to tuck into a comforting hot meal. On the menu are donburi bowls, juicy steaks and Japanese pasta.

Henri Charpentier
Henri Charpentier’s luscious Double Cheese Cake

5. Henri Charpentier

Established in 1969 in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, Henri Charpentier specialises in creating French-style Japanese cakes for every type of occasion, packed in beautiful gift boxes. Try the patisserie’s ten-layered Mille Feuille crepe cake decorated with berry sauce and fruit, or its best-selling Double Cheese Cake that has a baked bottom layer of cream cheese, an upper layer of non-baked mascarpone cheese with fresh cream and is topped with crunchy sablé crumbs.

The gelato flavours at JW360° Café are made of premium Japanese ingredients

6. JW360° Café (Japan Way Three Sixty)

Gelato and cakes are the specialty at this Jewel Changi Airport establishment, all of which are made with Japanese ingredients such as azuki beans and matcha. Popular gelato flavours include Japanese strawberry, black sesame and hojicha, while one of their more intriguing creations, the Machu Pichu, is a dessert made of sweet potato and matcha chestnut cream. They also serve savoury options including the Seafood Miso Nabe and Torimono Chicken Katsu.

Belle-Ville Pancake Café
Belle-Ville Pancake Café’s Insta-worthy Matcha Pancake

7. Belle-Ville Pancake Café

Hailing from Osaka, Singapore marks the brand’s first foray into an overseas market. Customers flock here for the multi-layered Japanese pancakes made from fresh milk, which are firm on the outside but soft, fluffy and light on the inside. You can’t go wrong with any of the options, but we suggest trying the Matcha Pancake – multiple fluffy pancakes are stacked on top of one another and topped with rice balls, azuki red beans and homemade whipped Hokkaido cream.

8. Hvala

This cosy and minimalist café’s Somerset branch features an unconventional seating area built to look like a series of steps, allowing customers to view the rest of the space from higher ground. Design aside, Hvala (it has another outlet in CHIJMES) is known for its specially curated selection of teas from various regions in Japan. Sip on its signature tea latte, which comes in three flavours – matcha, hojicha or a blend of both. There are also plenty of sweet treats to choose from – we suggest going for the Goma Pebble Gâteau, a curious dessert that involves black sesame mousse, fragrant sponge cake and sprinkles of black sesame crumble.

For updated information on the Covid-19 situation, please visit the MOH website. Also, do check each establishment’s website to see if prior reservations are required.

SEE ALSO: How to take a French vacation without leaving Singapore

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The rising gastronomy sensation taking hold in Milan

Ristorante Cracco is a glorious, gilded dream.

duomo di milano milan silverkris
Tourists snapping photos outside the Duomo di Milano

With its sumptuous Neoclassical décor, elegant ambience and sprawling four-storey layout, it feels more like the palatial home of a visconte and less a modern restaurant in the heart of a bustling metropolis. The regal setting is worlds apart from the 21st-century scenes playing out elsewhere on the streets of Milan: the incessant crowds clamouring for selfies in the Piazza del Duomo mere metres away, for instance.

“In Milan, there are tens of thousands of restaurants, but none with really grand, historic settings,” declares celebrity chef Carlo Cracco, who is also a member of Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel. This observation was the inspiration behind his namesake flagship, which reopened last year to great fanfare.

carlo cracco milan silverkris
Chef Carlo Cracco

Previously located on Via Victor Hugo in the city centre, the restaurant upped sticks in February 2018 to the nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a soaring 1860s glass-vaulted arcade that’s home to big-name boutiques such as Louis Vuitton and Prada. But until Ristorante Cracco’s arrival, its culinary options weren’t quite as impressive: think overpriced cafés heaving with tourists and – somewhat incongruously – a Burger King.

This is perhaps symptomatic of the city’s culinary landscape as a whole. While Milan is known as a fashion and design powerhouse – its glittering Quadrilatero d’Oro district is lined with glossy storefronts showcasing opulent jewellery and haute couture – its food scene hasn’t always been so in vogue. Granted, as with any major city worth its salt, it lays claim to a smattering of Michelin-starred establishments, such as Seta and Enrico Bartolini al Mudec. But while there’s no shortage of venues dishing up top-notch fare, décor is often placed on the back burner. “Most of the places popping up in the city all kind of look alike,” Milan-based food and travel writer Sara Porro admits.

Ristorante cracco milan silverkris
The opulent interior of Ristorante Cracco

That is, until now. In recent years, a few imaginative restaurants have been elevating the dining experience with more design-driven interiors. “The Expo 2015 (a universal exposition) was a watershed event for Milan. The city found itself attracting media and public attention, and this prompted a phase of expansion, with restaurants at the forefront,” Porro explains. “Also, the role of social media should not be downplayed. People are taking more pictures of the restaurants they go to and the food they eat, so design is definitely becoming more important.”

For Ristorante Cracco, it’s all about old-world glamour. “We wanted to take the spirit of the Galleria outside and bring it into the restaurant,” Cracco says earnestly. To that end, the soft-spoken 53-year-old enlisted design outfit Studio Peregalli to overhaul the 1,200m2  space, which formerly housed drab municipal offices and a Mercedes showroom.

Ristorante cracco milan silverkris
A dish at Ristorante Cracco

“Our starting point was the Galleria and its architectural vocabulary. We wanted the restaurant to be perfectly integrated with its surroundings,” says Roberto Peregalli, who runs the Milan-based firm with Laura Sartori Rimini. The pair took inspiration from the Galleria’s Neoclassical aesthetic: ornate pilasters and bas-reliefs, hand-painted stucco walls, intricate mosaic floors and artfully distressed mirrors were all custom- made for the restaurant. It’s a highly evocative setting – one that harks back to the building’s 19th-century glory days as the “parlour” of the city, where well-heeled Milanese would sip tea amid the splendid surrounds. “We aimed at restoring the original role of the Galleria as an exciting meeting place,” explains Sartori Rimini.

Ristorante Cracco comprises a café spilling out onto the plaza, a private event space and a cellar housing over 10,000 bottles of wine, but it’s in the restaurant on the second floor where the magic really happens. Here, just about every dish is a revelation: the Russian salad is not a bed of leaves but rather a sculptural disc of diced vegetables lacquered with a caramel glaze. Then there’s the show-stopping tagliatelle with artichoke and black truffle, where the pasta is made entirely from egg yolk. Cracco creates the translucent orange ribbons by marinating the yolk in sugar and salt for seven hours – a technique that gives it enough texture to be rolled into sheets. To him, these dishes are design marvels in their own right: “It’s all about colours and contrasts,” he says, a smile lighting up his dignified demeanour.

Aimo e Nadia bistRO milan silverkris
The lavish interiors of Aimo e Nadia bistRO

A 20-minute stroll west, Aimo e Nadia bistRo also marries food and décor to great effect. “Our restaurant was born from the happy encounter between Italian gastronomy and design,” says chef Alessandro Negrini, who helms the kitchen alongside Fabio Pisani. Last year, the duo collaborated with Milanese design doyenne Rossana Orlandi to open the bistro – an offshoot of their celebrated restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, which currently has two Michelin stars to its name. The new venue is located in the elegant Magenta district, right next door to Orlandi’s eponymous furniture gallery.

True to Orlandi’s flamboyant aesthetic – she’s often seen in bright, bohemian ensembles, and is rarely spotted without her trademark oversized sunglasses – Aimo e Nadia bistRo is an exercise in maximalism. “I wanted to open an eclectic place where different styles could come together in a dialogue, creating an atmosphere similar to that of my gallery,” the influential design curator explains.

Aimo e Nadia bistRO milan silverkris
A dish of beef tartare at Aimo e Nadia bistRo

Upon entering Aimo e Nadia bistRo, guests are greeted by a riot of colour and texture, with every corner of the room competing for attention. Emerald and cream walls are embossed with damask motifs and juxtaposed against terrazzo floors. The equally elaborate brocade banquettes, cushions and tapestries come courtesy of Italian fashion house Etro. The rest of the space is decorated with pieces from the gallery, including embellished mirrors by Emanuela Crotti and gold-framed velvet chairs by Nika Zupanc. The scene-stealer, however, is an enormous brass installation by London-based interior design firm McCollin Bryan, festooned with oval resin discs that resemble polished jewels.

The menu is no less imaginative, as one would expect from chefs Negrini and Pisani; after all, Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia is considered one of the best restaurants in Milan. Dishes include a beef tartare adorned with herbs and slivers of radish, as well as a perfectly cooked egg crowned with paper-thin strips of zucchini – all plated with artistic flair. According to the duo, food and décor should be complementary – and it’s an ethos they see informing a growing number of restaurants in the city. “Milan now has many sophisticated dining destinations, where contemporary cuisine and design meet to offer unique experiences,” Pisani says.

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Seabass ceviche served with an infused gin at GinO12/Sixième

Among these is GinO12/Sixième, whose stripped-back aesthetic is a stark contrast from the visual excess of Aimo e Nadia bistRo. Set in a former 16th-century monastery on a quiet side street close to the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, it’s part of lifestyle hub Six, which also comprises a furniture gallery and a soon-to open hotel. Tucked away behind large black wooden doors, the complex wraps around a sun-dappled courtyard strewn with tropical plants. Inside, light streams through arched windows, illuminating the moody interiors: exposed brick walls painted slate grey and furniture from the likes of Isamu Noguchi and Gabriella Crespi. Its cloistered atmosphere makes it feel like a secret garden amid the city’s colourful chaos.

“In Italy, the food rules… However, it’s increasingly important to create a setting that tells its own story

“Our aim was to create a warm and intimate space, which explains the use of dark colours and natural materials,” says Fanny Bauer Grung, one-half of Quincoces-Dragò & Partners, the architecture firm behind Six. The elegant Norwegian, who was raised in Rome, has run the practice with her husband David Lopez Quincoces since 2009. During the renovation process, layers of plaster were stripped down to reveal the monastery’s original brickwork, while pebbled flooring and greenery were added to the previously abandoned courtyard. “In Italy, the food rules over everything else. However, it’s increasingly important to create a setting that tells its own story alongside that of the food,” Bauer Grung explains.

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A mackerel dish from bu:r

The food is curated by the team behind acclaimed local gin bar GinO12, which came on board in March this year. Described as “Foodology”, the menu takes the art of cocktail pairing to a whole new level. “We don’t just recommend drinks to go with your meal. Instead, we remove a few key ingredients from each dish, and put them into the accompanying cocktail. It’s a mutual completion of sorts,” Samuele Cancelli, the bistro’s maître d’, explains. “It’s the first time in Italy that anyone has done something like this.”

It sounds implausible, but it works. Take the ceviche, for instance: While the thin slices of seabass hold their own without the usual citrus dressing, they’re enhanced by their liquid counterpart – a piquant dry gin with chilli-infused liquor, lime, sweet red onion syrup and celery. Similarly, the cacio e pepe, a pasta with cheese and pepper, is served without the latter ingredient, which is instead used to spice up the complementary cocktail – a heady combination of gin and black-pepper-infused vermouth.

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bu:r’s chic, apartment-like interiors

A 10-minute walk through the bohemian Ticinese neighbourhood takes you to bu:r, helmed by chef Eugenio Boer. Born in Liguria, a region of northwestern Italy, to an Italian mother and a Dutch father, the 41-year-old cut his teeth in top-notch kitchens across Europe, including Ristorante Arnolfo near Siena, before heading up the now-defunct Michelin-starred Essenza in Milan. In 2018, he launched bu:r to showcase his take on haute cuisine.

The restaurant could pass off as a chic, well-designed apartment – and that’s exactly the vibe Boer is hoping to channel. “I want people to come here and say, ‘This is Eugenio’s home’,” Boer says, smiling behind his wiry beard. For starters, the façade has no signage whatsoever – just an unmarked red door. Inside, you’ll find a single room with six tables, which creates a sense of intimacy. Prussian-blue walls are juxtaposed against carpeted floors a shade of saffron, while furniture is hewn from materials like walnut, brass and marble. The back of the room is adorned with patterned wallpaper reminiscent of Delft pottery – a nod to Boer’s childhood in Holland.

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Risotto with nettle at b:ur

In keeping with the theme, the menu at bu:r is intensely personal. Boer draws on his memories to create dishes like Sunset in Provence – a creamy risotto infused with nettle and speckled with lavender buds, which lend a floral note to the dish. “For me, it paints a picture of my travels with my father,” Boer shares. Desserts include Sicily, which pays homage to the seven years he spent on the southern Italian island. Here, a tart lemon granita (a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar and water) sits on a bed of crumbled chocolate, coffee, capers, pistachios and almonds, creating a medley of summery flavours that evoke an afternoon on the beach.

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Chef Eugenio Boer launched bu:r in 2018

At bu:r, food and décor combine to weave a truly compelling experience. In a city flooded with generic cafés catering to tourists, it is this experience-making that makes its beautiful new restaurants so special and is perhaps a sign of things to come. Boer is certainly optimistic: “Unlike places such as Rome, which has a very traditional approach to food, Milan is more cosmopolitan and open-minded,” he muses. “Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of new and different restaurant concepts open up in the city. I think that these may just herald a new culinary epoch in Milan.”

Singapore Airlines flies to Milan daily. To book a flight, visit

SEE ALSO: 5 local spots worth visiting in Milan

This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine

The post The rising gastronomy sensation taking hold in Milan appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Saturday, 29 August 2020

How to take a New York vacation without leaving Singapore

Although Singapore is gradually opening up following the two-month circuit breaker, we’re still a while away from international travel. Thankfully, Singapore is a truly global city, and you don’t have to look too hard to immerse yourself in another culture.

In this series, we spotlight a few local establishments – from bakeries and restaurants to design stores and other retail outlets – where you can experience the best of destinations such as Scandinavia, the UK, Paris and the deep south of the United States, without ever taking off from Changi.

A view of the stunning New York skyline. Photo credit:

With its world-class cultural institutions, cutting-edge fashion and delicious multicultural eats, it’s no surprise that New York ranks high on many people’s travel bucket lists. According to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2019, which ranks cities based on the number of international overnight visitors, New York notches 13.6 million tourists and clocks in at an impressive seventh place. While you may not be able to experience the Big Apple for yourself anytime soon, these seven spots in Singapore will help to satiate your wanderlust.

Two Men Bagel House’s Zoidberg comes with beet-cured lox, cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts, pickled beets and onions and capers

1. For freshly baked goods: Two Men Bagel House

Few foods are as instantly associated with New York as the bagel. First introduced to the city by Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s, these dense and chewy bakes are found throughout the five boroughs – from delicatessens and corner bakeries to bodegas and traditional Jewish appetizing shops. To get a taste for yourself in Singapore, head over to one of Two Men Bagel House’s three locations (Holland Village, Tanjong Pagar and Novena, with each spot having a slightly different menu). Founded in 2014 by bagel-loving buddies Jerome Lam and Jereborne Lam (no they’re not related), the casual-style eatery specialises in bagel sandwiches. If you visit the outlet at Holland Village, try the Zoidberg, which comes with beet-cured lox, cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts, pickled beets and onions and capers.

2. For sweet-smelling delights: Le Labo

Cult-favourite luxury scent brand Le Labo, which hails from New York, opened its first flagship location in Singapore earlier this year. Located at Ngee Ann City, the store is done up in an industrial-chic aesthetic reminiscent of its original location on Elizabeth Street in Nolita, with exposed brick walls, natural wood furnishings and concrete surfaces. Pop by the charming atelier to discover, sample and shop for some of the brand’s famous products, which range from perfumes and candles to body moisturiser and shower gel, or choose to create your own blend in-house. Favourites include the brand’s iconic scent, Santal 33 – a unisex fragrance that features sandalwood, cedar, cardamom, violet and amber – and Baie 19, one of the newer offerings that’s made with juniper berry, patchouli, green leaves and musk.

At Central Perk, you can pretend like you’re on the set of Friends

3. For pretending like you’re on TV: Central Perk

Whether or not you’re a fan of Friends – which is set in New York – you’re likely to have heard of Central Perk, the iconic coffee shop that Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Monica and Chandler frequented during the hit show’s 10 seasons. This Central Perk-themed café at Central Mall was designed to replicate the fictional hangout – from the signage all the way down to the orange sofa – and has reproductions of other set locations, such as Monica’s kitchen. Items on the menu similarly take their cues from the show: six coffee blends are named after the comedy’s main characters, while dishes have monikers such as Joey’s Fisherman Stew (a seafood medley of mussels, prawns, scallops, octopus and seasonal fish) and Monica’s Lasagne (made with ground beef, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms).

4. For working up a sweat: SuperPark

Baseball and basketball are two beloved pastimes of New Yorkers. The city boasts two Major League Baseball teams in the form of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, while the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets represent the city in the National Basketball Association. While it’s currently temporarily closed in order to adhere to safe-distancing measures, SuperPark at Suntec City is an ideal venue to get a taste of both sports. Try to hit a home run at the batting cages, where you get to strap on a helmet, grab a bat and hone your baseball swing. If basketball is more your thing, head to the street basketball court where you can crossover dribble, Euro step and alley-oop your way to victory. Be sure to check its website to see when it reopens.

The gilded and glitzy interiors of Manhattan, one of Singapore’s top bars

5. For a classic tipple in moody and gilded surroundings: Manhattan

Currently ranked as the eighth best bar in Asia according to the 2020 edition of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, this sophisticated and suave drinking den at the Regent Hotel effortlessly exudes old-world New York glamour. Helmed by head bartender Sophia Kang – who’s been with the establishment since its inception in 2014 and took over the position from Cedric Mendoza in 2019 – the bar boasts an extensive menu filled with classic and creative tipples. We recommend the Bada Bing Bada Boom, a stiff one made with whisky, chianti, spice syrup and cherry tobacco bitters that’s served with a chocolate cigar. Another highlight is the adults-only Sunday cocktail brunch, where you can sample craft cocktails, boozy milkshakes, beers and wines while munching on bagels, seafood, meats, waffles and assorted charcuterie.

6. For chic threads: T by Alexander Wang

Known for his unisex, minimalist and edgy designs, fashion designer Alexander Wang has played a key role in shaping the evergreen New York “it girl” aesthetic –denim jeans and a casual T-shirt finished with a leather jacket. Wang studied at Parsons School of Design in New York and thereafter founded his eponymous fashion label, which was met with instant acclaim by industry insiders including Anna Wintour. Fans of his T by Alexander Wang range – a casual offshoot of the main line that specialises in basics – can find the brand at either Takashimaya or Club21 stores. The current collection includes poplin shirtdresses, cropped denim blazers and terry sweatpants, all in Wang’s trademark understated colour palette of black, whites, greys, blues and earth tones.

Tuck into authentic New York-style pies at Lucali

7. For a New York-style pizza: Lucali BYGB

One of the most hyped restaurant openings of this year is Lucali BYGB, a collaboration between local company BYGB Hospitality and the famed New York pizza joint helmed by Mark Iacono. The star of the tightly curated menu is the Lucali pizza – an eighteen-inch pie made with a special “four-hour tomato sauce” recipe passed down from Iacono’s grandmother, mozzarella and fresh basil. You have the option of adding toppings, which include pepperoni, anchovies and sweet peppers. There’s also a hefty and delicious calzone (available in either a full or half portion), a decent selection of pasta (we recommend the fragrant and velvety cacio e pepe) and a range of salads (go for The Big Salad, which features radicchio, asparagus, salami, provolone, olives and tomato).

For updated information on the Covid-19 situation, please visit the MOH website. Also, do check each establishment’s website to see if they are open or if prior reservations are required.

SEE ALSO: How to take a Scandinavian vacation without leaving Singapore

The post How to take a New York vacation without leaving Singapore appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris