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Archive for March, 2010

The French Kitchen

Say Central Mall and 99% of you will probably think of the shopping centre at Clarke Quay. No no. I say Central Mall, not The Central. Before The French Kitchen, I belong to that 99% too. Now, I’m in that 1%  =) Just google Central Mall and you will probably be amazed such a mall exists in Singapore.

The exterior of The French Kitchen looks so simple that we nearly missed it. It’s very small, a little old, and definitely time for a new set of cutlery! I had mine changed twice cuz it’s almost psychologically impossible for me to eat with spoons that’s permanently stained with God-knows-what.

We had the 3 course set lunch ($36++), just in case you are wondering.

I was delighted by the salmon rilettes, a most delicious salmon spread that I happily ate on its own. Bread (served cold, tsk tsk) is totally secondary here.

Complimentary amuse bouche from the chef: cod croquette with a shooter of artichoke soup (akin to mushroom soup) and homemade brioche (I’ve had better ones before). Love the small fried ball! No potato in sight, just pure cod filling.

My lobster bisque was power-packed with flavour from the get-go. Smooth, not too creamy or thick, and so highly seasoned that it did get too salty after awhile. Rivals the one I tried at Private Affairs and I still can’t decide which one I like more. Tiger prawn beignet was fresh with just a thin coating of batter; texture of leek custard was a cross between a mousse and jelly.

One big fat juicy gratinated scallop with spinach and béchamel sauce on a half shell. This was very… cheesy.

Besides the pan seared cod, there’s bouchot mussel, potato, artichoke puree, braised cabbage, jus emulsion and a most perplexing pork belly all on one plate. Definitely too many things going on at the same time.

And what’s with the pork belly (not on the menu description)? Almost as if it’s a case of “hey, I have some extra pork belly lying around so why don’t I throw some in as well?” Didn’t. Work. Sometimes, less is more.

The classic duck leg confit has won many fans over to TFK so I guess it must be pretty good. Truffled mash potatoes and marinated cherries on the side.

The sabayon with pear marmalade is interesting cuz it’s my very first French sabayon. It’s custard-like and I simply think of it as a whipped mixture of egg yolks, sugar and wine. In this case, TFK uses a generous amount of champagne which creates a distinct aftertaste so thumbs up for that. Plus, the forest berry ice cream is my kind of ice cream! Very light and smooth with no sugar overkill.

I like the milk chocolate tart just slightly less than the sabayon, the latter winning by a mere inch cuz of the novelty factor. But hey, it’s chocolate so what’s not to like? A crumbly base of buttery sable breton with good quality chocolate filling that’s rich and ganache-like, topped with caramel ice cream. I could feel the release of endorphins in my system, nice.

It’s interesting that service was so extreme. One waiter was extremely attentive and professional, always with a smile on his face, while another was so snotty that I was afraid that he would bump into our table accidentally, what with his nose lifted so high up in the air.

I won’t say I love The French Kitchen (I don’t) like I did Otto but lunch was still pleasant enough to make me a semi-fan. I think.

 

The French Kitchen
7 Magazine Road
#01-03 Central Mall
6438 1823

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Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant

Cuppage Plaza is my new find of the month! It’s an old building just off Orchard Road, has not much character but filled with numerous Japanese restaurants and KTV on each level. Most of the restaurants are only open in the evening (for people to eat, sing and get drunk after work), with only a handful open on weekends. I wanted to go Ooi initially but it was closed so Kazu it was. And what a blessing in disguise!

Kazu specialises in sumiyaki (like duh, from its name) which means charcoal-fired grilled food. Think atas version of satays, if you wish, but this is so much more delicious (and expensive) than satays can ever be! The menu spans several pages and there’s so many varieties that I took a long enough time to decide.

Hotate Kai ($3++): Incredibly plump and juicy scallops! I had them grilled with sweet sauce (or salt) and they were perfect.

Unagi ($3++): My staple at any Japanese restaurant. Love the tenderness.

Garlic fried rice ($6++) was very fragrant while Ochazuku ($7++) comes with your choice of topping in soup stock. I chose pickled plums to be the topping and fish stock as its base. Somewhat like porridge, light and easy on the stomach. We gave 2 thumbs up to the Okonomiyaki ($2.50++), Kazu’s signature skewered pancake balls but what had us gushing with love and adoration was the Yaki Imo (market price, $12++). Woah, the sweet potato was served piping hot, with soft and fluffy innards to melt the butter. Not to mention the natural sweetness, yum. A 45mins wait is required but trust me, it’s worth it!

I was introduced to Shishamo ($2.50++) on my first visit to Nanbantei long long time ago and I’ve been hooked on the pond smelt (full of pale yellow tiny fish roe!) ever since. According to the waitress, Kazu is famous for its pork belly rolls so we also ordered Enoki Buta Maki ($3.20++), Kuro Buta Bara ($2.50++) and Corn Buta Maki ($2.50++). The layers of fats are a heart attack ready to happen but just eat, don’t think. Zucchini Cheese Chicken roll ($2.50++) comes with an interesting dollop of spread on the side, nice but we can’t put a finger on what is it.

I almost skipped desserts, almost being the operative word. Wow, Yuzu Yoghurt ($5++) is totally my kind of sweet. Smooth and strongly scented with lots of citrus peels, this is so refreshing!

Kazu is so popular that reservations are a must! We were lucky to get a table without making any, but that’s only cuz we were having a very very early dinner.

 

Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
#04-05 Cuppage Plaza
6734 2492

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Prive Bakery Cafe

I like Prive.

I like how it reminds us of Cedele. I like how the simple the food is. I like how the waiters pretty much left us alone but always appearing at the right times to fill up our glasses. I like how pretty the view is.

What else do I like?

Oh ya.

I like love hanging out with you =)

Salade Nicoise Wrap ($13.50++) has got to be the most ambitious wrap I’ve ever seen. There’s lots of stuff stuffed in it: mesclun, tomato, fine bean, onions, olives, tuna, potato, anchovy, quail eggs, flatbread, phew.

Very neatly packed with generous fillings, I like.

Walnut Napoleon ($6.80++) is so light with layers of sponge and walnut cream, topped with crispy meringue.

This is one surprise find, I like.

Armed with just a not-too-helpful “Keppel Bay? Go up, turn right!” from the staff at the information counter, I was expecting us to get lost while walking over from Vivocity. But except for a detour, we managed to find the place without ending up like lost sheep!

We did good, I’ll say.

 

Prive Bakery Cafe
2 Keppel Bay Vista
GF Marina at Keppel Bay
6776 0777

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Pasta Brava

Pasta Brava’s specialty is dishing out traditional Italian fare that’s very rustic and hearty and to date, it’s still my favourite pasta restaurant in Singapore! I’ve been busy busy busy lately so this post shall be more of a pictorial one =) Oh ya, I actually cringed when I saw how the photos turned out. Blame the ambient lighting and my amateur photography skill!

Melanzane alla Parmigiana ($15++): very cheesy oven-glazed eggplant parmesan with tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Capesante alla Cardinale Grantinato ($18++): sauteed scallops flavoured with white wine and oven-glazed in bechamel sauce.

My darling pumpkin ravioli ($21++) paired with red capsicum sauce and cream that’s not cloying, even to the end.

Slightly dry squid ink spaghetti ($23++) with loads of seafood. I was thrilled by my blackened teeth haha.

An average tiramisu ($10++) that didn’t wow nor disappoint. Just a nice ending to a carbs-filled dinner =)

I’ve got my confirmation: Pasta Brava still makes the meanest pumpkin ravioli ever!

 

Pasta Brava
11 Craig Road
6227 7550

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Table 66

Table 66 is a new 38-seater modern European restaurant helmed by Chef Teng, previously from Desire at Scarlet Hotel. It’s not fine dining, more like casual-smart dining where the focus is primarily on the food.

That said, the decor is still pretty nice, simple and minimalist, with a large skylight overhead bathing the dining area with natural lighting (great for photography!) and a bar area at the entrance.

There’s a good lunch crowd on weekdays, mostly working professionals out for a business lunch. Set lunch is 2- or 3- course ($22++/$26++, additional $3++ for main instead of pasta) with a wide selection on the menu, inclusive of tea/coffee.

I started with Tuna Ala Nicoise which was nothing fantastic, just 3 small tataki of sliced tuna, a scatter of salad greens and avocado, dressed with anchovy mayonnaise.

This is my first time trying buffalo mozzarella and it’s like tasteless egg white which is good cuz I’m not big on cheese. Just wondering though, is that how it’s supposed to taste like?

I much prefer the Sous Vide Egg and Asparagus which has such a soft wobbly poached egg hidden underneath a parmesan biscuit and gratinated with hollandaise sauce. 

I wanted salmon which sounds more interesting with a herb fondue but it was sold out =( 

So pan seared Seabass Fillet it is then. What makes this delicious is the herb crusted skin. A liberal use of herbs, salty and extremely crispy. It definitely helps that the seabass is not overcooked too.

Beef Burger with sliced tomato, gherkin, mesclun salad, melted cheddar cheese and frites served with Béarnaise sauce. I think Chef Teng has a penchant for using lots of herbs for seasoning cuz as with the seabass, the frites are also heavily sprinkled with herbs.

While the crêpe is not as thin as I’d like, the filling of poached apple and lemon curd are good! Tangy, not too sweet and the vanilla ice cream is even better, very smooth and creamy with specks of vanilla beans.

Table 66’s homemade cheesecake with berries compote. I don’t like cheesecake so I’m not gonna comment =)

The dinner menu is completely different from that of lunch (no ala carte, only set) so I’m just that slightly tempted to come back for dinner another day!

 

Table 66
66 Tras Street
6225 6690

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Otto Ristorante

Otto is a restaurant I can easily love.

It’s not just the superb food; it’s the seductive combination of classy ambience, relaxed vibe and excellent service, all delivered within the elegant-contemporary restaurant decked in light hues of cream and white. To my delight, our waiter doesn’t mumble and speaks clearly without rambling on at a breakneck speed (unlike many other restaurants I’ve been to) while introducing each dish knowledgeably. Great, lunch is already off to a good start!

The 3 course set lunch menu ($35++) changes every week and always updated promptly (I know cuz I check every other week just to salivate over the menu haha) on their website.

Otto offers 4 different varieties of bread and the one topped with onions (standing tall and proud at the back) is the best out of the lot. It helps that I’m partial to onions too.

Complimentary amuse-bouche is a cauliflower gratin, just a little tidbit to tease the palate.

The starter is so me: smooth, not-too-salty smoked Scottish salmon with ultra crispy croutons and slightly coarse chickpea hummus with a distinct sourish tang. So many different textures and flavours, all in one bite!

Soup of the week is a thick and hearty fennel soup.

I had my main changed to the Atlantic cod “Tagliata” (supplement $15++) from the ala carte menu and she’s one gorgeous chick fish! Leaning sexily on a bed of spinach and adorned with a black olive crust and sundried tomato pesto, she’s amazingly tender and delicate. Gosh, I love fatty fish! 

Though it’s still nice and good, the Malabar snapper so doesn’t stand a chance against my cod haha. The crust and pesto are inverse to that of the cod: sundried tomato for the former and black olive for the latter.

All I have to say for desserts is ‘meh’. But I’ll gladly close one eye to it since it’s a set lunch after all (adjusted expectations) and the lovely courses previously have already made me a happy girl.

Coffee panna cotta served with white chocolate and grappa “nonino” sauce. FYI, grappa = an Italian grape-based brandy. Which I can’t detect at all, hmm.

2 scoops of Otto’s vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with fruits.

“Otto is a restaurant I can easily love”?

I’ve changed my mind. I already love Otto.

 

 

Otto Ristorante
28 Maxwell Road
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building
6227 6819

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The 1-Rochester Group has introduced a new dining concept, Roast, at its One Rochester establishment recently. The brainchild of Chef Christopher Millar, Roast’s main selling point is its new communal menu, which is based on the belief that a delicious meal is even more perfect when shared with loved ones. Remember: Sharing is Caring!

Here’s how the communal menu works ($65++ per person, min of 2 diners): In addition to a nibble platter and desserts, 2-3 persons can select 2 dishes from Pasta & Mains categories; 4-6 persons get 4 dishes; and if there’s 7 or more persons, it’s the full set of dishes on the menu. Confused? Don’t be! Just check out the menu here.

The al fresco dining area is beautifully surrounded by mature trees and walls of lush tropical greenery. Think Dempsey Hill but without the cars, noise and pollution. One Rochester is an oasis of calm personified.

Being a gastrobar, One Rochester has a comprehensive list of cocktails. While the Berry French Martini ($15++) is so-so, the Temasek Smash ($15++)  has bold flavours that appeal to the palate. The queer mix of red chili, ginger flower, gin, mango, pineapple, and cucumber works amazingly well together.

The ‘Nibble’ Platter is such a clever idea to start the meal with. There’s herb crumbed stuffed olives, foie gras parfait, pork & rabbit terrineprosciutto, and raw veg crudités with a thick and rich olive tapenade for dipping. 

I personally vouch for those moreish little potato skins! Filled with sour cream and ocean trout caviar (which pops in the mouth, awesome), they have “eat me!” written all over them.

This is one of the chef’s recommendations for salads: Tiger prawn salad with cous cous, mint and Persian feta. I don’t really fancy lettuce but this is a nice combination, especially with gems of pomegranate adding a dash of colour and sweetness to liven it up.

We had differing views on the smoked sea urchin risotto. I thought it’s a tad undercooked; she thought it’s perfect and practically polished off the whole dish by herself. A matter of personal preference, I suppose. But the plump and succulent seared king scallops had us nodding in agreement.

My favourite tonight (after those killer potato skins) is the roasted cod fillet. Simple with no surprises, but not boring either as it’s so tender and juicy. I particularly like the fennel, blood orange and pistachio salad too, which goes very well with the fatty fish.

What didn’t impress was the grilled yellow fin tuna loin which was too fishy for our liking.

Consistent with the theme of communal dining, the ‘Grande Assiette‘ is a selection of 5 petite desserts meant for sharing. 

My personal favourite is the coconut ice cream, chockful of toasted bits of shredded coconut that make it so much more fragrant. A pity that this is not on the menu!

The rose perfumed panna cotta with poached pear is light, without any unnatural ‘bandong’ aftertaste.

A cold lemon and lime soufflé (more like a mousse), wild honey & pistachio nougat parfait with cherry compote, and a Devils flourless chocolate, mascarpone & raspberry ripple cake complete the ‘Grande Assiette’ and our lovely evening at Roast.

My special thanks to Ms Audrey Rabarot, marketing manager of the 1-Rochester Group, for the kind invitation!

 

Roast at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
6773 0070

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