Friday, October 24, 2008
Although the menu is going through a seasonal change and some of their signature items were not available, what was presented made up for the slight disappointment. Service was also impeccable, attentive but not overbearing.
J's carte blanche consisted of a first course of the cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar. Tossed with chopped chives, garlic and truffle, and decadently topped with the caviar, the burst of flavours would wake any sleeping appetite.
Her second course of the pan fried foie gras with a sweet preserved apricot was excellent and it had to be the the best I've had in a long while. The foie gras was crisp on the sides but juicy in the middle and topped with toasted finely chopped nuts. Definitely made up for the missing home-made torchon of foie gras, which is a signature.
For her main course, she had the grilled half smoked Anjou pigeon, fragrant of Maghreb. With a fear that the meat would be tough while trying to saw off a bit for me to taste, we were pleasantly surprised that the meat was succulent and tender to the bite.
My own lunch creation of my French must have of the oven-baked onion soup with Leffe beer and puff pastry was made from an excellent beefy broth naturally sweetened by the beer, and the puff pastry was so good I was peeling off the soft bits stuck to the bowl. My main course of braised rabbit with prunes, brown beer and Valrhona chocolate brought raised eyebrows from our friendly server - apparently women rarely order it since they may find it gamey, but if it is the restaurant it is acclaimed to be, I said it wouldn't be. He was pleased and so was I when it finally arrived and I tucked into it. The chocolate did well to blend itself into the dish and not overwhelm. The rabbit was also tender and fell off the bones easily. The prunes were a good touch and stopped it from being too heavy on the tum-tum.
Although stuffed, we were determined to have dessert and shared our server's recommendation of the fine apple tart a la dragees, with Havana rum raisin ice cream. Oh my, this has to be now the best I've had to date. The thin and crisp pastry filled with perfectly cooked apple bits and baked with crushed almonds and icing sugar oozed the kind of warmth from inside you get from sitting with a loved one in a ski lodge by the fire place with it snowing outside.. you get the picture..
Back to reality, Gunther's was still a great place to spend a rainy afternoon in hot and humid Singapore. Perhaps I might try it on a hot and sticky night next time for dinner.
36 Purvis Street
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
(852) 2506 1212
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yun Fu (or Cloud Mansion for those who recognise its Chinese characters) was almost an anti-climax since I thought the reviews I came across might have caused an unnecessary buzz in me and my dining companion J. Of course, the lawyer in me had already placed many disclaimers along the way.
As with most reviews you will read about Yun Fu, it is the decor and the anticipation of walking down flights of steps decked with asian statues into a basement lined with Chinese inn rooms from the "martial kingdom" days, which is innovative in its concept. We walk past the rooms into an open dining area and are led to a table reminiscent of those you might see in a chinese kung fu movie. The innovation is definitely consistent with the Aqua group of restaurants.
J kindly let me order the reviewed specials:
1. we start with the marinated lamb rack roasted with assorted herbs and tea leaves.
- the lamb was nicely pink although the meat was a tad on the chewy side and did not come off the ribs as easy as I would have liked. Because of the cuisine (which is largely Tibetan in influence) it was not strongly marinated and was natural in its flavours so if you are not a lamb fan, this dish is not for you. I am ok with lamb but did find the dish a little on the bland side.
2. the winner for both J and I was the Mandarin fish fillet wrapped in golden salty egg yolk. Deep fried to a golden yellow and served with both the head and tail in tact, and laid out fish bone style, the fillets were fluffy on the inside, and crispy and fragrant from the generous salted egg yolk on the outside. A must-try if you love salted egg yolks as we do!
3. Our fibre dish was indeed fibrous. In fact, a little too much that biting through the aged "heen choy" was too much of a challenge that I gave up. After all, I do have a visit to the dentist soon and the less repair he has to do, the better!
4. Our dim sum of minced pork dumplings with chilli sauce and spring onions were nicely done with the "skin" al dente. The insert of minced pork was ordinary though..
While decent in its offering, Yun Fu was a tad expensive for the quality of food on offer. Good place if you are taking adventurous foreigners for a visit, and if you really have a craving for minority cuisine.
Basement, 43-55 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
(852) 2116 8855
Enough said, I actually like Shanghainese food for the precise things he dislikes although I prefer a chef with a lighter hand since it can get too oily for me. In Hong Kong, and especially in a restaurant like ye shanghai, you can get "internationalised" Shanghai food. And so, even though it has been open for a while, it merits a spot on the blog after my recent visit after a break of about 18 months.
One of the best places to have this appetiser especially if alcohol is being served, be it a cold beer or a nice burgundy... Crispy eel, Wuxi style is little eels deep fried to an absolute crisp and tossed in a sticky sauce of sugar, vinegar and soya sauce, topped with julienned preserved ginger slivers. Great way to wake up the appetite.
In keeping with the Hairy Crab season, we select an old favourite of baked sesame pockets but a stuffing of pure sauteed hairy crab meat and roe with bean sprouts and mushrooms. Perfect crab freshness with some crunch made for an excellent Shanghainese taco and drizzled with quality Zhejiang black vinegar, that much better!
And then, one of the long time favourites at ye shanghai, the roe crab stir fried with hairy beans (from edamame) and Shanghainese rice cakes. This is one of those addictive dishes where you try to lick every morsel because of the tastiness of the sauce and of course, we chose a roe crab instead of a hairy one, because we love the contrast of the fresh meat from the roe crab with the sauce. If you didn't have enough "meat" you might feel a little too sauced out because it is pretty hearty.
While ye shanghai may not be be quintessentially Shanghainese, it is in my opinion, an excellent way to enjoy the cuisine's favourites but not feel like a sinking grease bag afterwards...
Level 3, Pacific Place
Admiralty, Hong Kong
Thursday, October 16, 2008
For Food (which is most important to me), the ratings are...
1. Megu (see my post in March 2008)
2. Nobu (July 2008)
But if you want to wow someone with the concept, decor and place, Zuma is it. Trendily situated at the Landmark in Central, it is a 2 storey destination with the lounge seated on top of a sprawling open kitchen restaurant (but without the stick-on-your-clothes smells). The 2 are joined by a very cool spiral staircase. Decor is of course as trendy as you can get and with lounge music playing at just under lounge volumes. Spiffy waitstaff are friendly, well trained and well, spiffy!
The food in our opinion, was pretty good but unfortunately, just not as good as the other 2 I listed. And in general, a tad on the salty side but we thought this might be catering to a more non-Asian palate who like their food a little more salty.
The star of the night was the Grilled ox-tongue with white miso, which was tender with a slightly sweet aftertaste from the miso. Accompanied by a pleasant honeyed wholegrain mustard and cut into cubes, it was easy to eat.
The baby squids deep fried with a light batter and dusted with salt, pepper and fresh cut rings of green chillies, were also well done, although it gets uncomfortably spicy after a few.
The grilled lamb chops were also superbly done with a pink centre and served with pickled garlic and carrots.
Although Japanese in concept, the sushi rolls were nothing spectacular - the salmon skin rolls were a tad too salty and the chu toro rolls were flat, with the seaweed wrap flacid. Tasty enough and if you need your carbs. Our other order of soba in hot broth, with a quail egg, was ordinary.
If the ending is a happy one, everything else can be overlooked. So dessert did not fail - the lemon and coffee crumble served with Hokkaido milk ice cream is as good as it sounds, and is perfect, if you don't like your desserts too sweet. And for me , a not-too-sweet ending is a happier one...
Next time you want to eat, drink and be seen in Hong Kong, Zuma isn't a bad choice.
Level 5 and 6, The Landmark
Central, Hong Kong
(852) 3657 6388
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A table by the floor to ceiling window overlooking that merlion "doing its thing" and the marina bayfront, added to the atmosphere, and R and I agreed that dinner by the same window would be spectacular and very helpful if you needed a huge favour from our respective partners! Service was also impeccable since a stool for my handbag was brought without me asking... very rare in Singapore and impressive.
We decided to go "light" and share some of our courses, while having our own mains.
1. the amuse bouche of creamy soft polenta, topped with melted gruyere and topped with a summer truffle was delicate in texture and taste. Heavenly combination, especially with the freshly baked bread, by Chef Osvaldo's wife. Mmmmm.....
2. the appetiser of an excellent cut of Culatello ham, with sliced peaches and spicy fruit preserve were a nice combination of fresh natural sweetness from the fruit and a subtly fragrant saltiness from the ham.
3. Mains - My traditional Piemonte veal ravioli with truffle was excellent and in my opinion, the deal sealer for me. The al dente raviolis were each individually, painstakingly stuffed with shredded veal which was full of the hearty rich goodness of veal, unlike other veal raviolis where the veal is pulverised to an unrecognisable pulp and taste. I could eat this dish all day, and even though the portion was not modest, I lapped it all up.
4. R's mains of Risotto carnaroli with saffron and bone marrow, was most pretty in its presentation, and when he kindly offered me a spoonful to taste, it matched its good looks. The richness of the marrow was perfectly accompanied by the saffron-dyed arborio, where each mouthful was to be savoured and not swallowed too quickly.
5. Dessert was probably the only thing which was fairly ordinary but it was really our second choice since our first choice of golden apple strudel with Barolo Chinato ice cream would take a whole 20 minutes to make and I had only 10 minutes to order, down dessert and rush for a 4pm flight. So we settled for the summer berries with honey ice cream and crispy pancake. Don't get me wrong, it was not bad at all - the tart summer berries cooked in its own juices with sugar, was tart but nicely so, and made for an exciting contrast to the sweet honey ice cream and thin eggy biscuit of a pancake.
With the above, I hereby declare Forlino's to be the best Italian restaurant in Singapore as at the date of this post, if not, as good as its sister Garibaldi's on Purvis Street!
1 Fullerton Road
#02-06 One Fullerton
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
252, North Bridge Road
Monday, October 6, 2008
And the standings are now Ming Kee: 1; Mellben: 0. Ming Kee wins with the crab offering which was sweet, juicy and meaty. And very very fresh too - the meat literally fell off the shell without effort. Instead of a soup base, the bee hoon was stir fried in the crab's juices and roe. Alas, while the crab was huge and plenty for 3, there was barely enough beehoon to go round and of course, Grandma gets an extra helping just by virtue of her status.
Aside from the Crab bee hoon, the other dishes were more than competent. The steamed parrot fish was just nice although I had to kick up a fuss before the wait staff agreed to remove the burner it was served on. My instincts were right since any moment longer and the fish would have been overcooked till kingdom came.. but fortunately, we saved it from being so and it was cooked just right and the simple soya sauce was fragrant enough mixed with a little oil and lots of julienned spring onions. My only other complaint was that the fish was served shortly after the crab arrived and since we took a long time to devour the crab, the fish was cold by the time we got to it, especially since we were right in the firing line of the air-conditioning vent.
The other winner was the homemade tofu served simply with broccoli and mushrooms so that the focus was on the smooth and fragrant egginess of the tofu. Very good.
Dessert was "Or-ni" or translated - yam mud. Yes, it tastes better than it sounds, and topped with steamed gingko nuts and pumpkin wedges, was very creamy. Our table's complaint: the lacing of coconut cream did nothing except to detract from the fragrance of the yam and made it richer than it needed to be.
The experience at Ming Kee was awesome and our only regret is not having enough people to order more dishes. But with that in mind, my strategy for the next visit is simple, as you will see. I can only hope it is not too far away.
556 MacPherson Road
Friday, October 3, 2008
In our quest to conquer Little Japan down at Cuppage Plaza, we decided to venture without reservations into Kaiho Sushi on Level 3, which we hadn't tried previously. With no reviews or recommendations to go on, we bravely took a counter seat (ok, there were no other seats available).
According to Allan, the Lingonberry is from Sweden and a quick check with Wikipedia confirms that the Lingonberry is a staple in Scandinavian cuisine. Like most berries, it is a tad tart though not overly so. And so, the Lingonberry cheesecake which Allan bakes is a nice balance of cream cheese, cut through by the fresh acidic qualities of the Lingonberry making it easy to down and not too heavy like most cheesecakes.
The gula melaka cupcake is actually the Singaporean "wa-ko-kueh" flavoured with palm sugar - one of my favourite sugars in the world. Palm sugar has a flavourful sweetness from the coconut where it's from but without the heavy (sometimes oily) aftertaste of the coconut.
As for that cuppa I was looking for, Allan serves an aromatic Gingko flavoured coffee which his friend roasts and he will only sell limited quantities and only if regulars so demand. The coffee was served with sugar and milk added, and although I like my coffee without sugar, I did not complain because it was such a fragrant blend that what's a little added sugar in the system. Plus, it was a nice combi which I liked enough to order a second cup of.
Now that I have discovered AllanBakes, I will drop into the Village Centre more often than the once-in-10-years I've done, and sample more of his goodies. Even if I don't, the good news is that Allan caters!
Check him out at Allanbakes.com