Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The food at Andre was mediocre. The price tag was not worth it. For all the hype, all it came across was trying too hard. The whole octaphilosophy thing felt gimmicky and no, I don’t buy the whole “we only serve bio-dynamic wines” crap either.
The only redeeming factor that night was the service. And the excellent company I had, of course – B, the birthday (hardly) boy.
Ok let’s talk about the food. It’s a set dinner at $288++ per pax, comprising 8 courses (9 including dessert). From the website, each course is supposed to
“ attempt to discover through cuisine; the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs while investigating the simplicity of concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presumptions, implications, and interrelationships. The pure and unique hues of nature’s gifts from the land together with scientific research are juxtaposed alongside with the intuitions of the South, where primal aromas and texture evoke the endless trail of memories”
Anyway, a quick run-down and some OMHO (only my humble opinion – new abbreviation I learnt!) comments
1. Pure - Gaspacho of Zucchini. This tasted like grass, very raw and no, I didn’t like it.
2. Salt - Oyster with Granny Smith Apple Foam. I liked how the apple gave a fresh sweetness to the oyster but the overall dish was not very exciting. Cute plating of tiny (2mm?) chopped apple cubes all over the plate – pity the poor kitchen hand tasked with plating.
3. Artisan - Charcoal Grilled Baby Sweet Corn. The corn was very fresh, sweet and nicely grilled. But no wow factor. Really? Grilled corn?
4. South - Salad of Fruit Tomato, Persimon, Cured Hirame, Chilled Risotto with Palamos Prawn, Mackerel, Red Snapper, Sea Bass. I am a big fan of seafood so this dish, I liked.
5. Texture - Squid Risotto with Cauliflower Puree(right). The wait staff put up a big show here, asking us to guess which component was the squid and which was the rice. The answer – no rice, the risotto was made of squid. Ok... that’s clever. But the dish just tastes normal, OMHO.
6. Unique - French Artichoke, Japanese Baby Barracuda Fish. Again, I love fish.
7. Memory - Warm Foie Gras Jelly, black Trufle Coulis (left). Now THIS was probably the only dish that impressed me that night. As you may know, I don’t like eating foie gras. Ethical issues aside, I am not too big a fan of liver in general. But this dish rocked. It tasted was foie gras infused custard – texture was lovely, loved the scent of truffle – superb. I wanted more.
8. Terroir - Wild Duck, Tarragon and Onion Puree (right). This last dish wiped out all the goodwill from the foie gras jelly. Eeiks – the duck was a tad dry and tough, come on, this is unacceptable! I didn’t finish this.
Dessert was chocolate degustation. I like chocolate. This was ok.
As mentioned, the bill for 2 came to about $1k, including a bottle off wine - Kastelberg Riesling Grand Cru 2007 Marc Kreydenweiss. We asked the sommelier for something that could go with the entire degustation and indeed, this choice was spot on. The Riesling went well with the predominantly seafood based dishes, whilst having enough structure to cut through the meats. Hmmm the $280++ bottle of wine could well be the most “value for money” item we had.
Most disappointing meal of the year! Liberty Private Works beats Andre hands down. For that matter, Buko Nero, Ember and so many other restaurants too.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
We googled a (relatively) new Thai BBQ/steamboat place along East Coast called Mookata and decided to check it out. “Mookata” means pork BBQ – the boys were excited and looking forward to a meat fest. Finding parking was a bit of a challenge but we made it. The restaurant is a coffee shop-ish setup – simple décor, no air-conditioning and poor ventilation (seriously, be prepared to smell). Service seemed a tad sluggish and disorganized.
Luckily the food was good. It’s difficult to go wrong, when you put lard on a hot BBQ – everything tastes good! We ordered the meat platter and the “healthy” veggie platter, together with some ala carte sotong balls, squid and otah etc. The quality of the food was fresh, though the ala carte order quantity was a bit small for the 4 hungry boys at the table. I rather liked the accompanying sourish chili sauce, it gave the food some kick.
I was craving for wholesome comfort soup and was initially disappointed by how shallow the “steamboat” compartment of the BBQ stove was. Clearly, BBQ was the focus here. I later cheered up. Because, dear readers, you get some REALLY kick-ass soup post lard-BBQ – not the best idea if you are on a diet but omg I just kept pouring soup into the sinful stove and thoroughly indulged.
The bill came up to about $250 (including 12 beers) for the 6 of us. Not exactly cheap but oh vell, it was an enjoyable meal. Priceless, the look on A’s face when he mistook the piece of lard as squid and popped it into his mouth!
Friday, December 16, 2011
Finally, I found a taste of Spain in Singapore! The minute I walked into the narrow 17 seat-by-the-bar set-up, I was hooked. Oooh same vibes as Cal Pep in Barcelona.. Minus the crowd. For now at least (the place only opened on December 9th). I’m glad we checked it out early on; it’s so good it’s going to be crazy getting seats!
We knew the food was going to be good. Esquina’s opened by Chef Jason Atherton, protégé of Gordon Ramsay and owner of Michelin starred London restaurant Pollen Street Social. The restaurant is run by Chef Andrew Walsh. And man were we excited.
It’s a lovely feeling, having a fellow foodie beside you and sharing that anticipation of having our palates seduced. Hugs B, thanks for sharing this new culinary gem.
The menu is supposedly inspired by the canapés at the legendary El Bulli. It isn’t very large but what we had, we loved.
First, B ordered one oyster (I’m not too big a fan) from the raw seafood bar. It was huge. B says it was fresh and well-seasoned. Me, I waited patiently for my garlic and chili Madagascar gambas to be served. Now that, was good. Yes, it’s $8 a prawn but it’s (again) huge and very tasty.
The clams came up next. It was minor torture waiting while watching the chef cook them up – I love the smell of butter and that white wine sauce was divine. If only I had some bread to soak the sauce up.
As we watched the chef plate the next dish, the scallop ceviche with radish salsa, we were impressed by his finesse and obvious pride taken in his creations. It was so pretty - my pic does not do it justice. The taste was very interesting too, the use of sesame sauce in the ceviche gave it an almost Chinese fusion feel.
I needed my carbs so I ordered the rabbit confit with seafood paella. It was a nice manageable portion for both of us. A tad salty but one of the better paellas I’ve had in Singapore – moist, creamy and indulgent. Something I would order again.
At this point, we were almost stuffed. But B looked distracted. He was torn between ordering the bellota ibérico jamón, or the ox- cheeks which came highly recommended by the waiter. We finally chose the latter. It was a fine choice – the ox-cheek and mash were delicious!
Just as we called for the bill, the chef passed us two mini ice cream cones. Complimentary dessert - such a sweet way to end a lovely lovely meal. Damage was about $150 for the both of us – very reasonable, considering we had 3 glasses of wine and a wow dining experience. I can’t wait to go back! I hear they will be opening up an outdoor dining area soon. I still prefer sitting at the bar watching the chefs work their magic though. Encanta España!!
Address - 16 Jiak Chuan Rd. Singapore. 6222-1616. They don't take reservations, btw.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The cafe was pretty empty when we got there at 9am but it started filling up very quickly. It's a small cafe atlong Telok Ayer Road - bright and cheery with cosy seats - looks a lot like the other coffee joints, actually.
We got two coffees and two breakfast sarnies (I love the word!) to try. B has pretty high standards for his daily brew, so it must be good when he approves of his latte. I enjoyed my long black too - although I'm quite indiscriminate with my caffeine, so I'm easy to please.
When the sarnies came, I was bowled over by their sheer size. "I'm going to have to doggy-bag half of this", I announced, digging into the massive pile.
The bread makes a world of difference in a sandwich and the bread at Sarnies (baked inhouse) was excellent. I loved it. I also loved the creamy scrambled egg and generous slices of smoked salmon in my sarnies. B had the bacon and egg sarnie. He liked it, although i must say my sarnie was way more photogenic than his.
I'm definitely coming back for lunch. This time, I will be less greedy and share a sarnie.
Monday, December 12, 2011
NUOC is a bit of a fine dining Vietnamese joint so prices were slightly steep. But I thought this was justifying so – quality of the food was fantastic, with excellent service to boot. The ambience was nice – lots of natural sunlight, soothing surroundings and a great view of orchard road. Very zen.
I would go back just for this one dish - Juicy beef tenderloin goodness married with healthy greens and refreshing chili/fish sauce – so good!
Also of worthy mention were the fresh vietnamese spring rolls – we were impressed with how snuggly wrapped the prawns, sliced pork, lettuce and vermicelli were rolled in the rice paper. The peanut dipping sauce was very tasty. We also had the chicken pho to share. I liked it, although B says the beef pho he had the last time he was there is better.
There’s 20% discount with the modestos card and I hear it allows BYO with no corkage for a couple of bottles too so I’m looking forward to a wine lunch/dinner there soon!
Monday, December 5, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I’ve loved Fukuichi since it was in PSA building and I’m happy to report that it has maintained its standards after moving to Triple One Somerset. I love love love the Kani Tofu (tofu with crab mayo inside drizzled with century egg sauce) and the almond crusted tempura prawns there!
B lives right near by so it’s now the “perfect neighbourhood Jap joint”. That night I ordered the Chiraishi don and B ordered the teriyaki (I think) beef set. I can’t speak for him but my chiraishi was simply lovely. It’s less hearty than Botan or Matsuo’s but the quality of the sashimi was fantastic. If I remember correctly it’s a bit pricier – but note: I am comparing the former two’s lunch set prices to Fukuichi’s dinner ala carte menu.
I imagine we will be making many more repeat visits here, woot!
Friday, November 4, 2011
I had the $38++ set and it comprised a few courses:
First, we had a simple salad. Second up was the sashimi course. Hmm. Yes, fresh indeed. But serving was a bit small – such a tease, I was left wanting more.
Luckily, the bento set more than made up for the petite appetizer portions. From left upper corner clockwise, there was the goat cheese salad, the prawn and vege tempura, two pieces of grilled saba fish and a small hill of beef sukiyaki (dried stir-fried, not soup). These came with rice and soup too.
Overall, a good meal. I can’t complain, since this was a treat. But objectively, Kumo’s set lunch was Tatsuya/Aoki pricing and the experience just fell short. The restaurant was packed with similar “business lunch” types though so I’m guessing it’s good if you have an expense account.
I doubt this will be a regular lunch joint for me. If the Jap craving hits, I’d walk (and mind you it’s a long walk now that I’m at Chartis Building) all the way to Botan for my chiraishi fix.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
This was a Sunday and Szeto and I had just bought a ton of wines from the Carrefour fair (see earlier post). We wanted somewhere quiet to chill out at before heading home (for weekly breathe-it’s-Monday-again therapy) and Boulevard looked like a good place. Well, mainly because it was fairly empty, save for two or three patrons.
We didn’t feel like beer, so we had a bottle of wine (surprise surprise again) to share. I can’t remember the name of the bottle we had but it was the house red. Nothing mind-blowing but it was fairly pleasant though $70+ a pop (if memory serves me right) is a tad inflated in price.
Food! I really needed some after all that wine tasting (and swallowing) at the Carrefour fair. The menu had a mix of western and local favourites, so we picked one of each.
First up, the fried carrot cake. It’s the white version (versus the sweeter black type) and came in a good portion. Not too oily, well fried with generous amount of egg and large prawns – it was rather tasty, although more chai por might have been nice. In typical bar grub fashion, it was rather salty (and I have a high threshold for salt). Oh vell, I have long accepted this as a ploy by bars to make us thirsty and order more drinks.
I was still hungry (third surprise surprise?) so I added an order of prawn aglio olio. Again, the prawns were large and succulent, but the pasta was over-done. I don’t like soggy pasta. Could have been a bit spicier though. I suppose if you do order this you could leave special instructions to correct this.
Overall, Boulevard seems like a cool place to chill out at (on weekends) and to mingle and be “seen” (on weekdays after work). I would go back to try the other food offerings. But given the limited wine list, I’d order a beer, rather than wine
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
For mains, B had the lamb and I had the salmon. These came highly recommended by the waitress. Both dishes came in huge portions which brought huge smiles to our faces. I thought the salmon, although nicely crusted, was a tad dry. The accompanying cream sauce and buttered rice helped some - overall I quite enjoyed it. B's lamb fared better, he seemed quite happy with it.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Expensive too. The bill came up to $192 for the 4 of us and this was what we ordered:
- century egg tofu
- jelly fish
- some cold sliced pork with cucumber
- claypot “san bei” chicken
- egg fried with prawns
- fried brinjal
- a small bowl of plain noodles
- 2 bowls of rice
- 2 small bottles of Taiwan beer
- 1 small bottle of sake ($22)
I liked the century egg tofu and egg fried with prawns best. But then, it’s hard to go wrong with homely fare like these. The rest of the food were not too memorable and portions (despite my pics) were kinda small.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Wait for 3 months? Never! I plan to go back very soon to finish up muhahaha.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
LPW has just moved into their new premise on Stanley Road – a small trendy space on the 26th floor which has an amazing view of Soho. The concept of an open kitchen remains. Diners sit around a U-shaped bar while watching the lively kitchen action – I love how energetic the chef and his team are, they clearly cook with passion and pride.
We were greeted with warm and efficient service the moment we stepped in. Our reservation for 8.30pm was a tad late and the bar (sits maybe 20 pax?) was almost full. The crowd was definitely beautiful (as were Rosemary and me muhahaha *blush*) and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Excellent.
They allow BYO with no corkage charge (up until the end of October) so Rosemary and I sipped the Riesling I BYO-ed while waiting to be fed. We couldn’t get enough of the crackers they served with the delicious guacamole-like dip. Pure bliss, chilling out with one of my dearest girl friends! Babe, you are truly excellent company I feel totally at ease with.
The amuse bouche we had – a tasting of peppers – was the prettiest, most elaborate amuse bouche I have ever had. Tasty too. We polished it off and twiddled our thumbs while waiting impatiently for the first starter.
Up next, we had a tuna espellete mayonnaise (something like a tuna tartar), topped with generous amount of caviar and crispy puff rice, paired with a frozen longan by the side. By the time I was done with this, I was already impressed. How did the chef create a medley of flavours like this? Loved it!
The second starter swept us away. OMG. From left to right, we had a piece of lobster poached in butter (sweet g*d), corn seared perfectly with corn puree, sauteed escargots and foam of lobster bisque, the last of which was such a tease – we want more…
Next came the scallop with braised enclave and truffle duet of white and dark chocolate emulsion. Now THIS was daring. Scallop with chocolate? So playful but it worked. It really did.
The caviar re-appeared in the next dish – they patiently explained it was oschetra caviar - ravioli with spinach, egg yolk and parmesan cream. “Burst the yolk”, Vicky urged. Gulp. That sounded so sexy.
The next dish married decadence of foie gras and a duck trio with beetroot, in again, chocolate sauce. This is one single dish I would go back to LPW for. Who knew chocolate could go with…. Everything?
Both Rosemary and I were stuffed by the time the last savory dish arrived. But who can say no to a perfectly done beef ribeye, potato bone marrow and sauteed brussel sprouts? I thought that beef was wayyy better than the one I had at Osteria Mozza.
You know girls. We have separate stomachs for dessert. Which was good, because they served not one, but two dessert courses. First up, an intricate palate cleanser of pineapple sorbet, rose poached peaches, dragon fruit and coconut soda. This was refreshing.
Second, we each had a warm chocolate cake with liquid caramel and malden salt. Not too sweet, rich quality chocolate, oozing goodness - I think I died and went to heaven. How can gluttony be a sin when it feels soo right?
When Rosemary and I walked out of LPW at 11.30pm, we were on a high. Not exactly floating, given how much we ate, but seriously, best (and most exciting dining experience ever!)
At HKD800 a pax, even with the current favorable SGD-HKD exchange rate, this dinner ain’t cheap. But I would go back time and time again. In a heart beat. If you are ever in Hong Kong, plan ahead. I’m lucky to have darling Rosemary who helped make our reservations wayyy in advance.
LPW is hands down my pick for “Favorite Restaurant of the Year.”
Friday, October 7, 2011
I have heard of the Cellar Door for the longest time but I never got around to checking out the place. Vivo is just one of those places I don’t frequent so often. They have recently removed the corkage charge, previously imposed when you buy from the retail shop to consume at the bistro. So I figured this was a sign for me to check out the place.
The first male waiter who served us was very friendly, telling us about the wines and cheese they had. The other lady who served us subsequently had a really sour face and made us feel second class (she was fawning over the Caucasian couple beside us!).
For the month of October, they have on promotion some wines which are discounted. I thought the two whites we ordered were rather good value:
Ata Rangi Pinot Gris 2010 (Normal $48.60 OFFER $41.31) – we had a bottle of this and it went beautifully with the cheese platter. I think it would be a very pleasant drink on its own.
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Taylor Pass 2009 (Normal $54.90 OFFER $46.67) – this was one of the more complex NZ SBs I’ve had to-date. There’s some chalkiness, which was interesting. Strangely, this complimented our Eggs Benedict well.
Foodwise, the selection was not large. There were quiches and chicken pies, all-day breakfast sets, some main courses etc. Desserts were limited to mainly cakes. But what they did have, they did reasonably well. Don’t order the mussels though – expensive and very mediocre. I would be back to try the quiche and chicken pie.
And more wines. Of course.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Crab Chiraishi. Doesn’t it sound sexy? And it looked utterly tantalising. It ain’t cheap - $23 a bento - but there was no stopping me. What Lizzie wants, Lizzie gets. (Ok, that sounded wrong. Disclaimer: I am only referring to food.)
Also on sale were the famous Maruamami cream puffs, as well as some fried croquettes (selection of crab/corn/scallop cream). They looked so good my eyes kept straying. Focus on your Chiraishi, I willed myself.
For once, resistance worked. I walked away, found a nice seat in the foodcourt and savoured my crab chiraishi. I love how sweet and fresh the pieces of shredded crab were. And the ikura (fish eggs), ooohh once you pop, you can't stop. The rice was a tad dry though, could have done with more vinegar.
No matter. I was one happy girl. The fair ends this Sunday. Go try this!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
This time around, the wines featured include: Chateau Malartic Lagraviere 2009 Pessac Leognan Rouge, Connetable Du Chateau Talbot 2008 Saint Julien, Reserve De La Comtesse 2009 Pauillac, Chateau Bernadotte 2009 Haut-medoc, Chateau Marquis De Terme 2009 Cru Classe Margaux, Chateau Soutard 1981 Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Arthur Metz Alsace and Carrefour Demazel 2000 Bordeaux Rouge. Prices are in the brochure below.
But I bought none of those. Me, I was just there to stock up on cheap Bordeaux. Like I was telling a friend the other day, one mustn’t spoil one’s wine palate too much. As it is, my regular wine dinners with vino shifu has “exposed” me to too many expensive (fabulously delicious) wines. My palate has, GASP, unwittingly become DISCERNING!
For casual drinking, I think I should stick to under $25 wines. Carrefour is the perfect place to stock up on these. There’s a good range from Bordeaux which, although non-impressive, are still very enjoyable. The Chateau Lartigue at $18 and the Chatueau Cajus at $25 are perfect examples. As is the South African Tall Horse Pinotage at $19 – a reliable everyday red. Slightlier pricier at $29, Château Lamothe Bergeron is an excellent buy (one of my faves).
I also discovered an excellent value sauvignon blanc - Clearwater Cove from Yealand Estate, Malbourough, NZ. Very easy drinking with green-pepper aromas and subtle characteristic gooseberry flavours. At $19 a pop, I made sure to stock up a few bottles!
The fair will be ongoing for a bit so be sure to check out these wines. Erm.. if you are a cheap drunk like me lah. Check out how much we stocked up on!
Date: 30 September – 12 October 2011
Venue: Carrefour Suntec Atrium