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Archive for December, 2013

Nara Thai Restaurant

I reckon the best thing about Nara Thai Restaurant is not the food per se but its fabulous location in ION Orchard, and the seemingly endless menu! So it’s really important to know what you like and be strategically smart when ordering. Otherwise, just pick off the chef’s recommendation menu and chances of hitting a meh dish are pretty much minimized.

My personal favourites are the appetizing pomelo salad and the yellow curry soft shell crab! But if you prefer savoury stuff, stay away from them as they tend to be on the sweeter side. To balance the sweetness, I like the Tom Yum Kung and the fried dill omelette patties soup, both spicy enough to make me sniff (just a little haha). Skip the crab meat omelette, which was an oily disaster. For a fun and colourful DIY dessert, the coconut ice cream is a must!

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Yum Som O ($13.90++)
pomelo salad

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Phunim Phad Pong Karee ($18.90++)
stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry

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From top right, clockwise:

Kaeng Som Cha Om Kung Sod ($17.90++): hot and spicy soup with prawns and fried dill omelette patties;
Kaeng Kiew Wan Gai ($13.90++): green curry with chicken;
Kai Jiew Nua Phu ($12.90++): crab meat omelette;
Tom Yum Kung ($19.90++): river prawns in spicy lemongrass and lime soup;
homemade red rubies with jackfruit strips, young coconut and thai milk tea.

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Nara’s Coconut Ice-cream ($8.80++)
condiments: corn, red ruby, chendol, nata de coco, roasted peanuts, sticky rice, sweet potato, atap seed

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My thanks to Karina for hosting dinner!

Nara Thai Restaurant
#B3-21, ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
6634 5787

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Teppei Japanese Restaurant

3 hours after K’s birthday lunch at Jaan, we were waiting outside Teppei Japanese Restaurant for dinner. Reservation was made for 6.30pm (which I think is better than the 8.30pm sitting) about 4 months ago (yes, the waiting list is legendary!) and I almost had second thoughts of turning up because of the mixed reviews I’ve been hearing and reading. In fact, K was more excited over Teppei than I was, and so I went with my expectations managed till lower than low.

2.5 hours and 23 dishes later, I conceded.

Teppei deserves the long wait.

Other than a couple of nonsensical one-stick items, everything else was good. Not fantastic, but satisfyingly good. I couldn’t find fault with the freshness, quantity and quality for the price ($80++ omakase with “upgrade” of sashimi and premium beef), though I did cringe a few times as the chef (not chef Teppei) ineptly and roughly sliced the sashimi right in front of us. Especially impressive was that all the chefs and waitresses didn’t mix up our dietary preferences (mine was no tako, no ika, no shellfish except scallop, no meat) and even made an effort to introduce each dish to us.

Definitely going back again, but maybe once a year?

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From top left, clockwise:

tofu salad with sesame dressing, simmered daikon (K didn’t like this so I had double servings yay!), chawanmushi, negitoro hand roll (I kept nudging K and telling him that I want to snatch the whole container packed with minced fatty tuna from the chef haha), grilled edamame, assorted sashimi (mekajiki, hotate, sake, maguro, otoro!!)

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From top left, clockwise:

fresh oyster, garlic with miso (boring), rice pops (boring x2), aburi chutoro over rice, seaweed (boring x3), grilled hamachi collar (soft and fleshy!)

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From top left, clockwise:

smoked radish (boring x4), scallop and uni over rice, baby yam with tuna, chicken soup, japanese tomato (boring x5), monkfish liver (my first time eating this! Quite cheesy~)

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From top right, clockwise:

sashimi rice (I don’t understand why would anyone choose soba or garlic rice over this as the “carbs” option!), tuna steak, grilled beef, more rice pops (boring x6), yuba (a.k.a. tofu skin), black sesame and green tea ice cream

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Teppei Japanese Restaurant
#01-18, Orchid Hotel
1 Tras Link
6222 7363

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Jaan

I was a tad worried that K wouldn’t enjoy his birthday lunch at Jaan as he’s more of a sushi than foie gras type of guy.

Thankfully, the food was nice (read: very pleasant without any wow factor), service was quite good (well, they did forget one request) and of course, dining 70 levels above ground with an amazing view made this a meal to remember!

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Amuse Bouche #1
homemade hummus, flaxseed crackers, smoked eel, chicken pastille (in K’s words: “mini curry puffs”), some cheese thing which I can’t remember the name

The hummus was the most interesting as I’ve never had one with chestnut puree in it before! More sweet than savoury, I’m glad K didn’t like it as much as I do, meaning all the more for me yay!

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Amuse Bouche #2
wild mushroom tea, cep sabayon

One word: INTENSE.

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I was pretty subdued when Jaan’s famous smoked egg with all the dry ice theatrics was served with a flourish at our table… Guess seeing so many pictures of it online took away the excitement, ha! Moral of story: don’t read food blogs?

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55’ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg
smoked rattes, hokkaido corn, buckwheat

There’s a reason why Jaan is known for this and your palate will thank you for ordering it, trust me. Smokey, wobbly, runny, creamy, I wish K can whip this up at home heh heh.

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Arctic Char ‘Cochonaille’
‘le puy’ lentils, cévennes onion

Fresh fish with crispy skin, my favourite lentils and a lovely quince paste… Flawless!

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Choconuts
guanaja mousse, karukera sorbet, nuts

Snickers and Mars bars rolled into one and then deconstructed? Don’t know, don’t care, just eat and prepare to love this!

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Clementine ‘Gourmandise’
wholemeal shortbread, guanaja, chestnuts

I was eyeing K’s choconuts with envy and kicking myself for picking such a mild fruity dessert (plus I hate meringues). Luckily this seasonal creation grew on me gradually and I enjoyed the jellied chestnuts so much!

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Petit Fours
chocolate clusters, chocolate rosemary lollipops, espresso tarts

We’ve already made a reservation for a special dinner in March so see you then, Jaan!

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Jaan
70F, Swissotel The Stamford
6837 3322

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Petite Menu deserves a queue longer than the one at Saveur for all these reasons and more:

1. Gorgeously plated food prepared with finesse and techniques as if from a fine dining kitchen… Espuma, emulsion, sous vide, confit, coulis, anyone?

2. Affordable price tags with the most expensive item on the menu being $20++ for a torched ribeye steak! Believe me.

3. Fabulous playlist (remember Joey McIntyre’s Stay the Same??), though I’ve been fairly warned that the songs they play depend on the mood of the staff haha.

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Trio Petitisers
fried baby shrimps, bak kut teh terrine, tempura softshell crab with salted egg sauce

By default, salted egg softshell crab fettuccini is one of the mains on the menu but when Chef Nixon knew that I’m not a fan of pastas, he threw in a pasta-less version as an appetiser. I’m already biased towards anything softshell crab, but when paired with a buttery and aromatic salted egg sauce? Pure unadulterated bliss. I had to forcibly stop myself from drinking the sinful sauce even after the softshell crab was long gone. Yes, it was that good a winning dish!

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Lavender-Scented Pumpkin Soup ($8++)
puffed pumpkin seeds, wakame salad, granny smith apple balls

There was a lot going on in this soup. On its own, the wakame salad was too salty, the pumpkin soup too flowery sweet. Together, the taste was interesting, for want of a better word. I can’t say I’ll order it again, but you may?

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Late Breakfast ($10++)
mesclun salad, sous vide chicken egg, truffle dressing, butter brioche

Two words: butter brioche.
Two more words: must eat.

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Smoked Duck Salad ($11++)
mesclun salad, home-smoked duck breast, balsamic shallots, ume dressing, crème fraiche

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Chicken Confit ($15++)
braised purple cabbage, sweet potato puree, spiced chicken jus

There’s plenty of duck confit around but a chicken version? 12 hour brined chicken leg slow-cooked in its own fat and shallow-fried, I’ve got feedback that this was tender and juicy.

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Pan-Seared Seabass ($15++)
ratatouille, quinoa salad, lemon & kaffir lime confit, lapsang sauchong tea leaf emulsion

Stunning presentation right? It’s a shame that this is the only fish dish on the menu; hopefully Chef Nixon will introduce more main courses for pescetarians soon! I’ll be the first in line.

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Yogurt Parfait ($8++ for full portion)
elderflower yogurt, granola, fresh berries, blackcurrant coulis

This is actually on the all-day breakfast menu but Chef Nixon cleverly served it as a lovely pre-dessert. I’m a yogurt fanatic (I make my own yogurt at home cuz with the amount I’m consuming, the grocery bill was getting more and more expensive) and I approve this!

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Blackforest ($8++)
belgian chocolate mousse, brandied cherries, hazelnut soil, caramel ice cream

No doubt, the piece de resistance of Petite Menu. I don’t even like blackforest to begin with but this deconstructed version was so sooooo good! Everything just clicks. And $8++ for such a fancy dessert?! Sold.

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Kaya Toast Mille Feuille ($7++)
kaya cream, kopitiam toasts, attap seed tartare, fresh blueberries, mint espuma, warm kopi-C sauce

Ok, this was a tad too deconstructed and confusing for my palate. Definitely go for the blackforest!

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Special thanks to Li-lin and Chef Nixon for the kind hospitality!

Petite Menu
Level 1, Aqueen Lavender Hotel
139 Lavender Street
6395 7782

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