Food

Been procrastinating on this review of La Taperia by Les Amis mostly because typing out the name of each dish was a little bit tedious, but now that it’s the weekend and I have a bit of time, I have no excuses!

La Taperia is a Spanish tapas restaurant located on the 2nd floor of Shaw Centre (next to Shaw House). Reservations can be made through www.quandoo.com.sg

The restaurant is dimly lit with a cosy, steakhouse kind of vibe. It’s also not too noisy which I appreciate!

On the whole I think our meal averaged to about $85 per person. A tad bit expensive IMHO but probably okay if you have deep pockets or celebrating a special occasion!

Drinks

Sangria Tinto ($15)

What better way to kick off our meal than with a glass of red sangria each!

La Taperia’s sangria is pretty sweet and fruity (yum!) and reminds me of Pimm’s. The sangria itself wasn’t too heavy and sour, it was just nice. I’ld definitely recommend getting a jug ($52) of the sangria for sharing because it is just so good.

Warm Tapas

Croquetas de Jamón ($15)

Croquette of suckling pig bechamel & jamón ibérico

This looked really good online. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, this tapas dish was too pricey and didn’t leave much of a lasting impression on me. I much prefer Japanese croquettes from Muji/Mos Burger.

Gambas Al Ajillo ($20)

Prawns cooked with garlic chilli and extra virgin olive oil

I don’t eat seafood so most of our food was confined to meat.

My friend ordered this prawn tapas though, and the prawns looked pretty juicy. There was plenty of garlic and sizzle when the dish arrived!

Costillitas de Cordero a la Parrilla ($26)

Charcoal grilled lamb rib confit glazed with honey mustard

I love ribs. The meat is nice and tender and the sauce is just right, not too sweet. There’s a slight charcoal burnt flavour too. This was pretty yummy, I would definitely recommend ordering this!

Albóndigas en Salsa Ibérica ($18)

Homemade meatballs (chicken, pork and beef) cooked in chorizo ibérico sauce

Ahh I’ve been craving meatballs after Subway have temporarily banished their Meatball Marinara from their menu. Sadly the La Taperia meatballs were too pink and chicken-y for my liking. I prefer my meatballs to have a little more beef. The sauce was quite tomato-y and a little on the plain side. Perhaps it would be more appealing to people who prefer a much lighter and cleaner flavour?

Correderas de Carne ($16)

Beef cheek sliders, pickled vegetables & aioli sauce

These cute burgers were so tiny and reminded me of Krabby Patties from Spongebob! The beef cheek was definitely very soft and tender and melt in your mouth.

Bread

Grilled Baguette ($4)

Our waitress recommended that we order the grilled baguette to go with the meatballs and the garlic prawns. I had my eyes on the Crystal bread with diced tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil ($6) and probably should have ordered that instead.

The grilled baguette was quite tough and to me tasted a lil stale and it didn’t come at the same time as the meatballs and prawns so we didn’t have anything to eat the baguette with other than butter which was a little strange..

So maybe skip the plain grilled baguette and opt for the Crystal bread instead!

Sides

Coles de Bruselas Con Chorizo ($10)

Brussels sprouts with chorizo

My friend wasn’t a fan of this dish but I quite liked it. Thought it was one of the more affordable and yummy dishes on the menu. It’s very tasty and homely. Even the sauce tasted of Brussels sprouts. A good side dish of veggies to order!

Desserts

Crema Catalana ($12)

Catalan cream enriched with mango bits and à la minute crispy caramelised topping

I quite liked this dessert, the top layer was nice and crispy and the cream underneath was soft, sweet and creamy. Nothing too sickeningly sweet.

If you’re a fan of creme brûlée, try this dessert! Besides this, La Taperia also does churros and many other Spanish desserts! So leave space in your tummy for some delectable sweets.

Have you tried La Taperia? Let me know in the comments what you’ve tried! Or if you haven’t, what your favourite Spanish tapas restaurants are in Singapore so I can check them out! 🙂

This Christmas, I’m gifting jars of scrumptious yet healthy nut butters from none other than Wild Butter Co! With a wide variety of flavours to choose from, you won’t have any problem finding the right gift for the loved ones in your life 🙂

Cinnamon Maple Almond Butter
This is definitely one of my new favourites! Taste-wise, it reminds me of lotus biscuits. I also really love the texture of this nut butter. Smooth but with a nice, even crunch. This gourmet spread is made with agave nectar, a delicious and healthy alternative to maple syrup, but still has plenty of maple syrup flavour and addictive sweetness to it. In other words, this is the perfect yummy nut butter to get you in that festive mood!


Cookies and Cream Peanut Butter
Made with Oreo cookies, this vegan nut butter spread is a real delight (and unlike anything else you’ve ever tried!) The combination of oreos, sea salt and peanuts is really interesting. If you’re looking for a little more crunch and something not too sweet, this cookie peanut butter is a must try 🙂


Crunchy Kokoa Peanut Butter

Dark chocolate, digestives and peanut butter is a definite winning combination! If you’re a Nutella fan, you might enjoy this healthier spread alternative. The guilt-free, not-too-sweet, chocolatey flavour is just SO good.

Matcha Milk Peanut Spread
If you love all things matcha and haven’t tried this one yet, trust me you’ll love this Wild Butter Co matcha spread. It isn’t too sweet, but has a nice green tea taste to it. Rafael (founder of Wild Butter Co) says the secret to the amazing quality is in using only premium green tea leaves! I mean, just look at that glorious green colour. YUM.


Honey Roasted Almond Butter

Wild Butter Co’s honey roasted almond butter is made with raw honey, a natural sweetener with lots of antioxidants. It’s really tasty and free of hydrogenated vegetable oils and low in carbohydrates. So you can still #treatyourself while maintaining a healthy diet! The almonds provides a slightly lighter flavour compared to the peanut spreads.


Earl Grey Peanut Butter

This is by far my favourite Wild Butter Co peanut butter. It’s a close tie with the Cinnamon Maple Almond Butter, but this is so decadent (it contains white chocolate) and the bergamot earl grey flavour is really there. Tastes like absolute heaven! A definite must order if you’re an earl grey fan.

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Wild Butter Co now ships to Singapore, Malaysia and other countries. So what are you waiting for? 🙂 Check out www.wildbutterco.com to get your hands on their amazing nut butters! PS. Get free shipping when you purchase 6 or more jars. If you’re located outside of Singapore and Malaysia, email hello@wildbutterco.com for more information on ordering!

If you frequent Orchard Road/Somerset often, or if you are simply looking for a chill place to unwind with friends and family over proper food and drinks, then this post is dedicated to you!

For those unfamiliar, Outback Steakhouse is an Aussie inspired steakhouse that’s been in Singapore for many, many years, and not too long ago they opened a restaurant on the fourth floor of Orchard Gateway. Outback also has a global presence with numerous restaurants around the world.

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What I like about Outback:
(1) It’s air-conditioned.
(2) It’s family-friendly.
(3) It’s away from all the hustle and bustle that is Orchard Road.
(4) It offers a stellar view of the Orchard/Somerset belt.
(5) The food and booze is really decent and reasonably priced.
(6) The bar area looks so fancy and they even have a sports channel dedicated television.

So if you’re looking for a place to have a decent meal with family or a group of friends or even just a plus one, you should check out Outback.

Before I digress any further, let me get into Outback Steakhouse’s awesome new menu!

So what’s new?

(1) Dessert Donuts
Omg I love this. Admittedly it isn’t photogenic, but EVERYONE knows that “ugly” food always tastes so goooood. I had average expectations, but this was quite mind-blowing.

The donuts are FRESH and crisp, and oozing with MASCARPONE. Omg. You can throw your diet out the window with just one bite. The dessert donuts kinda remind me of goreng pisang or a cross between churros and donuts. I’m still dreaming about this fried, decadent goodness, plus it’s served with a thick and heavenly Milo sauce.

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(2) Skillet Cookie
As you can see, this is a yummy warm baked gooey chocolatey cookie served on a skillet with chocolate sauce. Ok at this point I’m just throwing up all the possible adjectives I can think of to describe this cookie. It has a really homemade feel to it as well. It’s really addictive, so please order this at Outback if you are a chocolate lover. On a separate note, this large cookie is suitable for sharing!

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(3) Aussie Chicken Tacos

These were simply fabulous. The grilled chicken was juicy, tender and fresh and so tasty. Loved how they combined it with coleslaw and aioli so it wasn’t at all dry. Although the portions looked normal, it was actually really filling in a good way! I felt like it was the right balance between being healthy but also delicious.

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There were other new offerings on the menu, but since I’m an average human being and can’t eat like 100 spring rolls like people on YouTube, I didn’t get to try all the other new menu items at one go. HOWEVER, I intend to go back and try their other new dishes which I will elaborate more on below.

Besides what I mentioned above, the other new menu offerings are:

1. Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich (chicken breast seasoned in spices, breaded and fried, in a toasted bun with mayo, chili oil and pickles)
2. Shrimp Creole Sandwich (a crispy shrimp sandwich with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, creole sauce)
3. No Rules Grilled Fish (fresh grilled fish with seasonal vegetables and shrimp scampi or Toowoomba sauce)
4. Ranchero Chicken (grilled chicken + mashed potatoes with lemon butter sauce, pico de gallo and ranch dressing and slaw)
5. Filet and Grilled Shrimp (filet with grilled shrimp and two sides of your choice)
6. Chile Marinated Ribeye (juicy ribeye steak chargrilled to perfection with avocado pico de gallo, Mexican corn, crispy tortilla, grilled tomatoes, chile sauce and sour cream)
7. Strip and Fish of the Day (Outback’s signature strip paired with flame-grilled fish and a side)
8. Rainbow Salad (mixed greens, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, grilled chicken, boiled egg, bacon, fresh avocado and spiced orange vinaigrette)
9. Steakhouse Salad (seared sirloin atop mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, pecans, and blue cheese vinaigrette)
10. Asian Spicy Pasta (fettuccine, seared chicken, sautéed veg, cashews and a spicy sauce, sweet chili garlic, herbs and tomatoes).

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This drink I ordered was the Pacific Rim. It was SO GOOD. You can really taste the alcohol, and it also has a very clean taste.

Something else that’s new on the menu is the Chef’s Selections. These brand new, reasonably priced dishes were specially created to cater to our Singaporean taste buds. There’s the Outback Curry Chicken (steamed rice, crispy chicken, bok choy, curry), Tropical Beef and Rice (sautéed beef, seasonal veggies, green onions, teriyaki sauce, steamed rice, spinach, pineapple), Country Fried Steak (a huge steak that’s battered, fried, topped with peppercorn sauce, and mashed potatoes and broccoli), Sirloin Steak with Rice (sliced sirloin steak, seasoned rice, sautéed spinach, black pepper sauce), Spicy Shrimp Bowl (crispy shrimp tossed with spicy sriracha aioli, spinach, steamed rice, sweet chili sauce).

As for the new appetisers, there’s the Bloomin’ Pickle Fries (fried pickles and fries with a sweet chili and creamy ranch dressing), Lemon Butter Calamari (pretty self-explanatory), Crispy Volcano Shrimp (crispy shrimp meets sriracha aioli sauce and green onions), and also the Appetizer Platter (sharing portion of the Kookaburra Wings, Lemon Butter Calamari and Crispy Volcano Shrimp!)

As you can see, they’ve pretty much outdone themselves by coming up with so many new food options to explore, so there’s really something for everyone. Well, I think that’s enough from me about the food, go check out Outback Steakhouse’s latest menu and be the judge yourself!

Outback Steakhouse is located at 277 Orchard Road, #04-01, Orchard Gateway, Singapore 238858. To make a reservation, call them up at 6702 6842!

[Disclaimer: This food review was sponsored by Outback Steakhouse. All photographs and opinions are my own.]

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Nara Thai

There are many new delightful dishes gracing Nara Thai’s all new Bangkok Sois’ Hidden Gems Menu. Ranging from soft shell crab, tiger prawns, grilled scallops to larb, fried sea bass, seafood and coconut otah, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Thankfully, the menu is decorated with pictures of each individual dish to make the decision-making process a little easier (and faster) 🙂

Back in 2013, Nara Thai opened its first outlet at Ion Orchard and it’s been there ever since. Knowing that even the most popular F&B outlets along Orchard Road come and go, the sign that Nara Thai has been around for a while must mean that the food isn’t too bad.

This was my first time visiting Nara Thai at Ion Orchard. Both my parents have been to Nara Thai before me while I was overseas studying, so I’m guessing it must be pretty well known. Ever since it came to Singapore, Nara Thai has expanded to the west of Singapore at Westgate. Nara Thai’s also branched out into the catering industry with its authentic Nara Thai Fine Banquets, so that’s good news if you are planning a Thai-themed event any time soon!

According to Nara Thai, their bestsellers are their Kway Tiew Rua (Boat Noodles) and Phunim Phad Pong Karee (Stir-Fried Soft Shell Crab with Yellow Curry). They also told me that their head chef is Singaporean but trained in Thailand, so you know the food is made with only the best, most authentic Thai recipes. (Not surprisingly, in 2014, Nara Thai was featured on Tatler Singapore’s Best Restaurants List.)

Something else that I learned that evening was that Nara Thai originated in Bangkok back in 2006, bringing Thai street food and air-conditioned dining together.

I got the chance to dine at Nara Thai’s Ion Orchard branch, and the ambiance was casual yet cosy, and you don’t get the feeling of being chased away. The food came quite promptly too, and the waiters always took note of when to refill my water without interfering. So I’ld say that the service at the Ion outlet is quite good.

Nara Thai’s a great restaurant for family dinners or a meal with friends after work. The traditional Asian style of cooking would be especially suitable to bring more conservative eaters like the older pioneer generation, as well as tourists looking to try some delicious Thai street food in Orchard Road while still being able to sit down in a dining atmosphere.

TL;DR you don’t need to book a weekend getaway trip to Bangkok to eat good Thai food.   

So what’s on the new menu? What should I order? What did you eat?

Well, there’s a whole lot of seafood dishes on the menu, and I’ll elaborate more on my favourites at Nara Thai.

 

A photo posted by Nara Thai Singapore (@narathaisg) on

Fried Century Egg with Chili & Hot Basil Beef, Pork or Chicken, $16.90/$15.90

This was my favourite dish! It was highly addictive and I kept helping myself to more, it was soo delicious. This is a must-have if you like century egg. It was quite funny, during dinner, the century egg kept getting mistaken for aubergine.

Grilled Scallops with Asparagus, $17.90

I didn’t get the chance to try this one, but this stunning dish is on their new Bangkok Sois menu 🙂

Black Glutinous Rice with Coconut Milk, $6.90

We didn’t get to taste this beautiful dessert, but I’ll be sure to order this next time I visit Nara Thai with my new Nara Rewards membership! (more later on their brand new loyalty card program!)  

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This drink isn’t part of the new menu, buuuut I ordered this super refreshing young Thai coconut! It was so fragrant, and so sweet, and the coconut flesh was so soft and tender. Yum!

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Mushroom Salad, $14.90

The Yum Hed or Mushroom Salad features oyster mushrooms and brown clamshell mushrooms. While mushrooms are rare in salads and typically found in Thai soups like tom yum, this one works! The salad is tossed with lemongrass, shallots, and mint leaves, all chopped up to give that extra punch.

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Yes, they serve BLUE RICE at Nara Thai. Can you believe it! How cool, right? The colour of the rice comes from blue Butterfly Pea flowers. Here’s a video on how they make the rice at Nara Thai! 

I found the rice a little dry at first since I’m accustomed to eating Japanese rice and not other types of rice. On top of that, based on appearances I was expecting it to be a little sticky – like glutinous rice, since you usually get blue rice in the form of kuehs. Especially my favourite pulut inti (glutinous rice with coconut) which my dad always gets for me. But in retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise that the rice alone was dry as it meant that the rice could really absorb the flavour of all of the other mains and dishes, which all had plenty of sauce!

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Seafood & Coconut Otah, $16.90

I don’t normally rave (or crave) about otah ‘cos I’m not an otah fanatic, BUT THIS WAS AMAZING. The flavour is very subtle but you can be sure to taste the coconut infusion in the Hor Mok Ma Praw On. Also, this is the first time I’ve seen otah presented this way in a coconut. Apparently, it’s how they do it in Thailand (according to hearsay at least!).  There’s also plenty of seafood (prawns, fish, squid) in this dish. The otah was uni-coloured and so so so delicious and tasty without being overwhelming. It’s hard for me to describe the exact flavour. Not fishy, tastes like scrambled eggs, a subtle flavour, and has a hint of coconut. Ok it sounds strange and I’m at a loss for words, but it tastes good, trust me. It tastes like how I think otah should taste like! Not overwhelmingly seafood-like in flavour. To sum up, the otah wasn’t too heavy so you can eat plenty of otah with no regrets!

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Fried Whole Sea Bass with Basil Sauce, $32.90

I had a few mouthfuls of this fresh, yummy sea bass. The fish was well cooked, not too soft and not too hard and not dry at all. They’ve even deep fried the fish skin (for those of you whom can’t get enough of fried fish skin). It was really easy to eat (I didn’t get any bones) and definitely something to order if you have a large table or family gathering at Nara Thai.

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Stir-Fried Soft Shell Crab with Basil Sauce, $17.90

Here’s a close-up of the soft shell crab! As someone who doesn’t eat shellfish, I must say it looks quite tasty! And look at all the fried basil! *heart eyes*

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Stir-Fried Tom Yum Tiger Prawns, $28.90

Again, I didn’t eat this one, but it looks really scrumptious and well-seasoned and tasty! The tiger prawns were hugeeee. The tiger prawns are fried in a huge wok with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and finally topped with with tom yum flavouring.

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North-Eastern Spicy Minced Pork, $13.90

Otherwise known as larb, this is another one of my favourites on the Bangkok Sois menu at Nara Thai, and my first time eating larb. Simply fill the boat-shaped butter cabbage leaves with this mildly spicy minced meat and enjoy!

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Yam and Pumpkin in Lychee Coconut Cream, $7.90

This deliciously warm dish was quite the surprise. I was expecting something traditional but there’s an unconventional twist to this new dessert from Nara Thai. Perhaps owing to the variety of ingredients used here. Bite-sized pieces of pumpkin and yam float in this creamy lychee-infused coconut cream dessert, and I really love the lychee flavour and the sweet and tasty pumpkin pieces. I think this one will be a hit with the older folk who might prefer a warm and hearty dessert like this!

For the quality, I think the prices for the new menu are reasonable for a meal with family and friends. Plus, with more people, you have the opportunity to try out a lot more dishes on Nara Thai’s new Bangkok Sois menu!

Oh, and I had the opportunity to become one of Nara Thai’s newest Nara Rewards members, yay!

Their newest membership program, Nara Rewards, comes with so many benefits. When you register for $20, you get $25 worth of credits, one 1-for-1 dining voucher (valid on the lowest priced item), 10% rebate, and a 20% discount during your first visit to Nara Thai during your birthday month. Whoo hoo! Compared to other restaurants, this is a really great deal cos (1) it’s affordable, and (2) there are so many more benefits! Get signing up today and do go out for a meal with the fam at Nara Thai! 🙂

Nara Thai @ Ion Orchard
Ion Orchard #B3-21,
2 Orchard Turn,
Singapore 238801
Tel: 6634 5787
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm

Nara Thai @ Westgate
Westgate #03-07,
3 Gateway Drive,
Singapore 608532
Tel: 6710 5867
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm
Website: www.narathai.com.sg

[Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Nara Thai, who kindly sponsored this food tasting opportunity.]

I’m no professional food photographer, but I do take photos of food every other day and do get asked quite frequently on how to take nice food photos. You could say it’s my hobby to capture what the people around me, and I eat on a regular basis.

While looking for free exercise classes in Singapore, I came across this local foodie who was charging an exorbitant amount for food photography classes. For that level of amateur food photography, I really wouldn’t recommend paying so much for something that you can learn for free from the Internet.

So an idea popped in my head – why not write a quick article that can benefit ordinary people with a penchant for food photography, for free?

Here are some tips on how you can take nice food photos yourself!

1. First, I’ll recommend… ditching your phone to shoot with. There are plenty of small and lightweight cameras you can invest in to really capture the beauty of food. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, most professional camera out there. Let’s just say, really great food photography online is usually taken with cameras, not phones. Sometimes I like challenging myself. I always think that maybe, just maybe, my phone can give me a better photograph than my camera can. I’ll take photos of my food, one with my camera, and one with my phone. More often than not, the photos shot with my camera will turn out much better than what my phone is capable of.

2. Don’t be afraid to try different angles. Food is 3-dimensional. Which means, there are many ways you can look at food. Bird’s eye view, side view, the list goes on. If you want to show off the number of fluffy pancakes you’ve cooked up, or number of layers in a slice of mille-feuille, the hard work that goes on behind baking and cooking is best captured by snapping a side-view of the food. You want to capture the sheer height of those delicious pancakes, or super-sized cake.

3. Negative space can speak volumes. Like just how massive that pie, quiche, or cake you just baked really is! Sometimes looking at a whole, uneaten cake can be uninspiring because it’s been left untouched. Take a slice out of it, and people will start salivating. We always want what someone else is having. By that logic, cut one clean slice out of a tart and its absence will whet any appetite.

4. Opt for cool toned plates and tables. Food is usually best consumed hot or warm. A blue, turquoise or green plate will make your food look nice and hot! Likewise, when choosing a table to photograph on, a wooden table with more blue-ish hues to it will make your food look warmer in tone.

5. Warm up your photos. People are more drawn and more likely to ‘like’ more saturated, warmer photos. Make sure your food photographs don’t look dull and de-saturated or cool in temperature. Rarely do you see food photographs in black and white, so make sure to amp up the brightness, colours and vibrancy with your food photos! (But of course, don’t exaggerate it to the point it looks totally unreal, over-exposed and unappetising!)

6. Background is so important. What’s going on around the food is equally important to the food in focus. Keep the background simple and tidy. Or keep the background textured yet organised. But make sure it doesn’t overpower or distract from what your food has to offer! Clear up any messy tissues, arrange your forks and knives like you’re attending an etiquette class, and pick up any unsightly crumbs or receipts. Backgrounds can tell a story. Think of a cook book, or a guide on baking. The food photographs there are always so enticing. Show off your culinary masterpiece by decorating your table or setting with the ingredients that go into what you’ve just created. Think textures and think colour.. Sugar, flour, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate, marble, wood, metal, cloth. All these will create an inviting and beautiful air to your photographs!

7. Cropping can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to crop, or zoom in. When you crop your food photos, the viewer is drawn immediately to what is the subject of the photograph – the food. And with no other distractions around, the main focus is on the food or drink.

8. Don’t be afraid to use a hand model. Make your food look even more enticing and delicious and hunger-inducing by getting a friend or family member to pose! They can be holding a fork or chopsticks and picking up a dumpling, or pouring chocolate sauce over ice cream and a churros waffle!

9. Use filters! Apparently, filtered photographs do better than unfiltered pictures. It offers a special, vintage aspect to the picture, which makes viewers appreciate it even more! Don’t be afraid to use filters, but use them sparingly. Adjust the filter levels to what you think is a balance between making the food look good, while making it look special, or differentiated, because of the filter!

10. Day versus night. Shooting food photos in the daytime is always easier. To make sure your food pictures turn out excellent, make sure that the camera is facing the food in the same direction as the sun is. This will ensure that the food isn’t in the shadows. As for night time, if you aren’t lucky enough to have good lighting, get a few friends to offer the magical ‘iPhone torchlight’ to shed some light on your food! I hope this post has been helpful and informative in teaching you how to take nice food photos.

[Food photographs all taken at Roosevelt’s Diner & Bar who kindly sponsored the food and drinks in this post. Try out their wine pairing and brand new all day brunch menu! I love their matcha latte, signature salted caramel milkshake, potato pancakes with slow braised beef cheek, and churros waffle! They are located at 331 New Bridge Road, right next to Outram MRT Station.]

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