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Archive for April, 2010

Chinois by Susur Lee

It’s no secret that I’m no fan of Chinese cuisine but the family loves it so much that it’s impossible to avoid it at times. So here’s my first and hopefully last post on Chinese restaurant of 2010: Chinois by Susur Lee, which is strategically located at Hotel Michael in Resorts World Sentosa. Besides ala carte, there are a few set menus available and we settled for the 8-course menu at $80++ per person (minimum 2).

First up was Chinois’s version of amuse bouche: cucumbers wrapped with chilled sliced pork and minced garlic; chilled vegetable rolls with sesame peanut sauce; lobster and ham salad on a spring onion pancake; and egg-potato cake wth cheese. I like the last two a lot cuz of the great flavours and textures. And it doesn’t hurt that they are, well, so un-Chinese too, hah.

I love soups, though I don’t drink them often enough. Unique to the local Chinese culture, the double-boiled Ginseng consommé was a big hit! Crystal-clear and so light. Plus, the large pieces of shark’s fin and bitter ginseng sealed the deal for me.

Another deftly prepared dish was the steamed spotted garoupa on a bed of bean curd knots. The preserved vegetables and X.O. sauce were not too salty and didn’t overwhelm the natural sweetness of the tender fish.

The next 4 dishes were so humdrum that I wonder why they are even on the menu in the first place. Oven-baked tiger prawns swathed  in a too heavy Asian spices sauce; so very average crispy fried chicken cutlet with mango salad and sour plum sauce; pathetic portions of sauteed wild shell mushrooms with spinach and braised egg noodles with crab meat.

Fortunately, desserts pulled the score safely back to a draw of 4 hits and 4 misses. Though I don’t like Chinese cuisine, desserts are another matter entirely. I love mango sago pomelo, yam paste, black sesame paste, and anything pumpkin is sure to get a thumbs-up from me, like this chilled purple rice topped with pumpkin and pistachio nuts. The golden liquid is very bland but eaten together with the vanilla ice cream, the sweetness is just right. Refreshing!

The complementary chocolate cake was surprisingly good! Smooth and not too dense or rich.

I like that Chinois offers a different perspective on Chinese cuisine, with a hint of European fusion. As with any restaurant, especially newly opened ones, there are hits and misses. Understandable, but I’ll learn not to go back again with such heightened expectations, just cuz of the branding “Susur Lee”.

 

Chinois by Susur Lee
28 Sentosa Gateway
Lobby Level, Hotel Michael Resorts World Sentosa
6884 7888

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2am: Dessert Bar

2am: dessert bar is such a popular hang-out spot in Holland Village that it’s quite impossible to get a seat without making prior reservations. We didn’t make any and were told to return the table by 2345. Just 45 minutes? No problem at all. Cuz the desserts were small enough to be polished off within 5 mins flat.

The interior looks good, very minimalist and chic but the reclining couches are uncomfortable, especially for girls wearing dresses or worse, mini skirts. This is also a place where one can get high on both sugar and alcohol cuz all the so-called designer desserts on the menu are paired with a selection of wines.

I thought of getting Araguani H2O but went for Purple ($14++) at the last minute cuz the latter sounds more exotic. A combination of purple potato puree, blackberry parfait, “leather”, and fruits of the forest sorbet. Though the interplay of textures is interesting, I couldn’t really discern the different flavours for what they are. Should have gone for good old chocolate instead, darn!

Another not-too-wise choice is Strawberries & Sweet Milk ($14++): macerated strawberries, panna cotta, sweet milk  gelee, grapefruit marshmallow. Maybe this will be impressive to some but personally, I’m not into panna cotta or sweet milk. Translation: didn’t like this either.

Artfully messed up. Therein lies the “beauty” of deconstructed desserts.

 

2am: Dessert Bar
21A Lorong Liput
Holland Village
6291 9727

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Epicurious

If you’re a regular blog-hopper like me (though I haven’t been one lately, what with about 1001 things to do -__- ), then you must have heard of Epicurious since so many blogs have reviewed it already. It’s popular for brunch, especially on the weekends when expats just swarmed the tiny little joint filled with a charming mish-mash of vintage memorabilia and furniture. There seems to be 2 camps: those who love it, and those who don’t. The former raves about everything from the food and service to the vibe and location, while the latter just scoffs at whatever the former gushes about Epicurious.

For those with a low tolerance for anything sour, you may want to pass the two-egg ratatouille omelette ($12++) cuz it’s filled with a super tangy tomato-eggplant-zucchini stew. Personally, I do like the appetising sourish tinge. Now, I have to express skepticism and disagree with the “great service” that Epicurious is known for. I requested for no Parmigiano-Reggiano but of cuz, they had to top the omelette with such a generous sprinkle; I wanted wholemeal toast and naturally, white toast was served and they even charged me for the additional bread when I pointed out their mistake. Huh, what do I need so much bread for?

The Epicurious burger ($18++) defines normalcy, from the house-made beef patty to the sautéed onions, mushrooms and fries. Makes me wonder why it’s one of the signature items on the menu. And it became an open face sandwich instead cuz they ran out of buns, tsk tsk. 

Beware if the waitress comes back to the table after the order is taken and asks an innocent “you want cheese right?” That’s an additional $2++ if you don’t know that it’s excluded from the price stated on the menu. Ya, it may come as a surprise, but we don’t memorise the menu’s description, do we.

I actually thought of going without desserts. For about 5secs. I ignored the waiter’s recommendation for the apple crumble cuz the “even newer!!” sticky date cake ($8++)  was calling out to me. I’m not going to compare this with Marmalade Pantry cuz it’s just going to end up on the losing end. But on its own, it didn’t disappoint! Very moist and chewy in a kueh-like manner and surprisingly not too sweet even when drenched with butterscotch sauce. Love the creamy vanilla ice cream too. If I have to nit-pick, it’s that the cake wasn’t served warm so it didn’t have that temperature contrast I was looking for.

Remember the 2 camps of Epicurious I mentioned earlier? While I like the concept of dishing out hearty and wholesome food made from scratch, I’m inclining towards the latter group cuz the food was just so-so and I really don’t like the way they go about implementing ridiculous additional charges! No loss to them, I suppose, since they already have a loyal troop of regulars. And certainly no loss to me either.

 

Epicurious
60 Robertson Quay
#01-02 The Quayside
6734 7720

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Restaurant Ember #2

Went back to Ember for another fanta-bulous meal! I pretty much knew what I wanted  so ordering was a breeze. Had the crispy tofu with foie gras-mirin sauce and white truffle oil ($16++) again and I’m happy to report that it’s still as uberly delicious as before. Ember should just bottle up that power sauce and make millions from it hah. I’ll be the first in line to buy me some.

A toss-up between the chilean seabass and the black miso cod ($32++), and the latter won just marginally cuz I wanted to compare it with Saint Pierre’s. Coupled with unadorned herbed potatoes and sugar snap peas, Ember’s lusciously rich and buttery cod is ambrosial but the too-strong barbeque-like glaze somewhat covers the natural flavour of the fish so I’m gonna give my vote to SP for creating a milder but no less powerful dish!

The beef tenderloin ($38++) was one of the day’s specials and off the menu. Didn’t hear any complaints about it so apparently it’s quite good. Spotted this on quite a few other tables too!

I’m kicking myself for saying that Ember’s desserts are weak! They are not, I just picked the wrong ones previously, sheesh.

I really like the nice creamy mouthfeel of the homemade tiramisu ($13++), essentially a spruced up version with lovely rum soaked cherries, mini chocolate balls for texture and topped with a scoop of chocolate sorbet.

Tell me, why why WHY didn’t I order the coconut panna cotta ($13++) the other time?! This has a wonderfully rich but not overwhelming flavour from the coconut, tempered with a fragrant sweetness from the gula melaka, and the crunchy red rubies contrast nicely with the silky smooth texture. A perfect example of an “oohs and ahhs” dessert!

I’m probably not gonna post on Ember anymore cuz I’ll order and rave about the same stuff anyway: crispy tofu for starter, chilean seabass or the occasional miso cod for main, and the tiramisu and or and panna cotta to end. There, done. Easy peasy!

 

Restaurant Ember
50 Keong Saik Road
Hotel 1929
6347 1928

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Black Earth

This is a post long long overdue. Black Earth was so new at the point of visit that it didn’t even have a signboard yet. Nor was there any NETS/credit facility, a big no-no since there’s only plastics and zilch cash on us. Amazingly, Roy (I’m guessing he’s the manager) welcomed us warmly and his “just come in and try the food, don’t worry about the money!” had me admiring his trusting nature and lack of respect concern for the bottom line.

It’s easy to overlook Black Earth since there’s only a small blackboard positioned near the entrance to draw your attention to the attractively priced 3 course set dinner which ranges from $16++ to $22++. Great since it was already after 9pm and we just wanted a quick fix dinner.

A moment of silence as we slurped up the warm and comforting onion soup and polished off the crispy garlicky toast.

I can only remember that the poached snapper fillet ($18++) was overcooked and the ginger lime sauce too oily. But hungry people can’t afford to be choosy.

The poached chicken roulade ($16++) and mushrooms were bland but saved by the refreshing mango sauce.

I barely touched the coffee cake, mainly cuz of the cream that’s obviously from a spray can. That really ruined it for me.

At this sort of pricing, the food is decent, of average quality and good value. So why not give Black Earth a chance instead of joining the queue at nearby Astons, fellow easties? At the very least, you will be rewarded with nice ambience, unhurried service and lovely presentation for your food! Which is more than what I can say for Astons, really.

P.S. We really left without paying a single cent and I did a fund transfer to Roy days later. How cool is that haha.

 

 

Black Earth
367 Joo Chiat Road
6346 4558

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Le Bistrot Du Sommelier

Le Bistrot Du Sommelier has been making a name for itself by dishing up comfort French food and hearty bistro cuisine associated more with a country kitchen. Although Chef Patrick was previously the executive chef of Au Petit Salut, the menus offered at APS and LBDS are starkly different. While the former showcases classy French fare, the latter is focused on rustic French cooking. Think hearty and heavy.

The waitress recommended the chicken liver pâté with port wine ($12.50++ for 100g) to share. Probably not a good idea when your dining partner refuses to touch it haha. Served with hard crusty baguette, this is enough to fill up more than half the stomach even before the main arrives.

The Belgium endives salad ($14++) with chopped green apples and walnut dressing is very light, slightly tart, and the combination of endives (a.k.a. chicory), Granny Smith and walnuts lends a nice crispy texture to the dish.

Just look at that block of terragon butter sitting on the grilled hapuka ($30++) and imagine it melting, flowing and seeping into the firm and soft fish, infusing it with the fresh taste of herbs and rich flavour of butter! That’s how good this is. Wonderful pairing with the celeriac mash too, mellow and not as heavy as the usual mash potatoes.

Beef lovers will be happy to know that there are quite a few beef items on the menu. I spotted beef cheeks, beef beef onglet, beef shank and there’s a sautéed beef tenderloin ($30++) with mushrooms, shallots in a rich white wine cream sauce and mash potatoes on the side.

Desserts turn out to be good too. The profiteroles ($12++) are gigantic, just slightly bigger than my fist (I have small hands but still). Soft and chewy choux buns stuffed with vanilla ice cream, drenched in warm chocolate sauce and topped with sliced almonds.. I don’t have to spell out how rich this is, do I? =)

Even better than the profiteroles is the Cappuccino Glacé ($12++): 3 scoops of coffee and chocolate ice cream with strong espresso and lots of hazelnuts for that extra crunch. Somewhat like an affogato, simple but gratifying. 

Even though the menu is very limited for pesce fans (there’s only a catch of the day), I like this place. It’s small, cosy and service is efficient though not very warm but that’s ok since the food is tasty and of good quality.

 

Le Bistrot Du Sommelier
46 Prinsep Street
#01-01 Prinsep Place
6333 1982

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Nadaman

Nadaman has an established reputation as the premier choice for businessmen and ladies of leisure seeking an extravagant Japanese meal. While I’m far from either, it’s a joy that I could lunch out with my favourite person at one of the top Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Comprising 7  bite sized and beautifully presented courses, the mini kaiseki ($45++) is undoubtedly the top pick food-wise. We also tried the teppanyaki set B menu ($55++) which is a pretty good deal as there’s variety and portions are rather generous.

Menu for the mini kaiseki changes weekly. I had boiled garland chrysanthemum and a soy bean milk-sesame mousse for appetisers, followed by a clear and light-tasting soup with yomogi fish cake, chef’s selection of fresh tuna and sea bream sashimi and a simmered dish of prawn tempura and eggplant with radish sauce. Everything tasted great, especially the mousse and fish cake cuz I love their texture, the former smooth and the latter soft and chewy. So far so good!

For the teppanyaki menu B, appetiser was the same garland chrysanthemum sans the mousse for appetiser, chawanmushi with my favourite ginkgo nut hidden at the bottom, a sizzling hot plate of silver cod, prawn and scallop which was delicious and an easily forgettable mixed greens salad.

Both set comes with fried or steamed rice with wild vegetables, pickles and miso soup. My main for the mini kaiseki was a nicely grilled swordfish with teriyaki sauce, meaty and firm. As for the teppanyaki, it’s a choice of either lamb or beef with fried mixed vegetables.

Desserts were so boring that Aoki’s sweet trio flashed into mind immediately! Custard mousse for mini kaiseki and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (no vanilla bean specks sighted) for the teppanyaki set.

A peek at the dinner ala carte menu is not for the faint hearted. Prices can easily run up to 3 figures! I’ll just stick to lunch happily.

 

Nadaman
Shangri-La Hotel
Lobby Level
6213 4571

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