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Archive for March, 2016

Hokkaido Izakaya has potential. Not everything I tasted was great, but there’s enough to make me happy enough to want to make a repeat visit.

Certified by the Hokkaido City Council to promote Hokkaido produce in Singapore, Hokkaido Izakaya gets its produce from just four cities – seafood from Yakumo Town (a town which faces both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean); vegetables and cheeses from Furano City (that lavender place!); wines and beef from Kamishihoro City (where cows outnumber people); and oysters from Akkeshi Town, the leading oyster producing area in Japan.

So, authenticity checked?

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Authentic or not, two appetizers didn’t agree with my palate – scallop liver with sesame oil and cubes of cream cheese marinated with miso. Too creamy but to be fair, if you like shirako and ankimo etc, you will probably enjoy these.

Scallop Liver ($9++); Cream Cheese ($7++)

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Actually, make that three unimpressive appetizers. The cucumber slices dressed with konbu were fine but certainly nothing interesting to warrant an order.

Cucumber ($5++)
with salted konbu seaweed

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Served warm, the potato salad uses Hokkaido potatoes and is mixed ‘live’ with egg, shredded vegetables and a generous spoonful of mayonnaise. Check out the video here haha.

Potato Salad ($9++)

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Chicken wings = essential bar grub I suppose.

Chicken Wing ($6++)

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I love tamago so naturally I love this! So soft and fluffy, good stuff. Will have to ask for butter on the side next time because smothering it with butter is overkill after a few bites.

Japanese Omelette ($10++)
mixed with milk

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While not the best value-for-money dish in the house, the grilled scallop was tasty nonetheless.

Grilled Scallop ($10++)

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I’m usually not a fan of starchy food but Hokkaido potatoes are really delicious! Especially when fried like these croquettes.

Potato Croquette ($8++)

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Hokkaido is famous for its milk and other dairy products so don’t be surprised when your hotpot comes with a milky broth. This comforting pot overflowing with salmon and vegetables is perfect for a cold rainy day. We also had smoked salmon belly (not pictured) which was excellent too!

Milk Hotpot ($18++)
salmon, assorted vegetables

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The lunch menu comprises of their signature soba, handmade in the restaurant using 100% buckwheat flour imported from Hokkaido. The kakiage tempura soba has a great presentation but the kakiage was quite a letdown as it was not as crispy or airy as expected.

Hot Soba ($14++)
kakiage and prawn tempura

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By the end of dinner, I had enough of potatoes but dessert also involved this prized commodity! Served with butter and vanilla ice cream, the steamed potato was a heavy ending, not recommended unless you are still hungry. There’s vanilla ice cream with corn sauce on the dessert menu which I’ll try next time and report back.

Steamed Potato ($7++)
vanilla ice cream

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My thanks to the Food News team for hosting dinner!

Hokkaido Izakaya
95 Tanjong Pagar Road
6221 7118

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Inspired by the artisanal brasseries lining the French Riveria which gives diners a beautiful riverfront view, Kwee Zeen similarly offers a dining experience with an unrivalled backdrop of the South China Sea.

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It took me a moment to realize that this used to be The Terrace where we had a superb gourmet Sunday Champagne Brunch a couple of years ago. Like The Terrace, Kwee Zeen has upped the champagne brunch game by introducing a Magnifique Sunday Champagne Brunch, featuring an extravagant spread of epicurean indulgences and free flow of premium Taittinger Champagne.

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Highlights include a hearty selection of succulent live seafood, foie gras cooked a la minute, fromage and charcuteries, tandoor, and not forgetting desserts on trolley and handcrafted truffles of unique flavours!

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There’s even a DIY caviar counter complete with blinis, ikura, creme fraiche and other garnishes.

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Don’t miss the interesting cured salmon marinated with coffee! I wouldn’t have imagined this pairing but it works.

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Even the gourmet cheese selection was overwhelming. 32 variations, take your pick!

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Okie, the highlight of brunch for me was not the champagne, not the oysters, not the lobsters, not the caviar, not the cheese…

It was the one and only DUNGENESS CRAB!!!

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I was planning to try all the different kinds of crabs available but the chef helming the crab station confidently placed one whole crab on my plate and told me “just try this, you won’t want to try the others after this”. I nodded and smiled but was secretly thinking I’d be back to try the others after this! Well, I was wrong, she was right! This huge dungeness crab was amazing!!! Super meaty and that fresh roe!! I polished off two of these monsters and didn’t have much tummy space for anything else but…

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Desserts, what else!

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Compared to The Terrace, the sweets selection has definitely been pared down. There’s the usual cakes, mousses, jellies, ice cream, crepes etc, nothing particularly memorable.

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That said, I do love the assorted truffles here! So much so that I probably downed 15 of these handmade and of good quality chocolates oops #whatdiet Black sesame, oolong, durian, coconut, dulce de leche, those are some of my personal favourite flavours!

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Magnifique Sunday Champagne Brunch is available every Sunday, from 12.30pm to 3.30pm:
$168++ per adult with free-flow Taittinger Champagne & wine
$138++ per adult with free-flow soft drinks & juices
$58++ per child (aged 5 to 11 years old) with free-flow soft drinks & juices

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Our thanks to Pearly for spending Sunday with us!

Kwee Zeen
Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
2 Bukit Manis Road Sentosa
Singapore 099891
+65 6708 8366

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Bochinche may be an Argentinian restaurant but trust me when I say that pescetarians (and even vegetarians) can dine very well here too. It’s not all about meat on the dinner menu as Head Chef Fabrice Mergalet has added several new items, including three vegetarian small plates. Granted, they may be intended to complement Bochinche’s popular meat dishes but the sweet roasted beetroot with goat’s cheese and grilled pumpkin with braised kale and yogurt are tasty enough on its own. There’s also a refreshing salad of watermelon paired with mozzarella cream and sun-dried tomato.

Other new small plates menu items include the Hokkaido scallops tiradito with an intriguing pairing of tomato water and for meat eaters game for bold flavours, perhaps go for the crispy chicken skin with liver parfait, candied walnuts and grape chutney – I wish there’s a pescetarian version! Old hot favourites such as the classic provoleta with almonds and oregano honey (a must for cheese lovers!) as well as the signature veal sweetbreads are still available on the menu.

Please don’t leave without ordering the crab croquettes – moreish fried balls of tightly packed crab meat with spot on seasoning, major love! It was my favourite that evening and that alone makes me decide that dinner is indeed more exciting than brunch! Don’t get me started on the tender meaty grilled octopus and delicate dover sole. Just go!

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Roasted Beetroot ($16++)
goat’s cheese, tarragon, oats crumble

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Hokkaido Scallops Tiradito ($21++)
tomato water, avocado, yuca

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Watermelon Salad ($14++)
mozzarella cream, sun-dried tomato, pumpkin seeds

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Iberico Cold Cuts ($22++)
selection of lomo, chorizo, shoulder 30 months

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Crispy Chicken Skin ($18++)
liver parfait, walnuts, grapes

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Crab & Humita Croquettes ($16++)
spicy criolla sauce

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Classic Provoleta ($17++)
almonds, oregano honey

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Grilled Octopus ($19++)
green peas, mussels escabeche

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Catch of the Day (market price)
dover sole, lemon

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Ojo de Bife ($55++)
300g rib-eye

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Dulce de Leche Creme Brulee ($17++)
banana split ice cream

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Milk Cake ($14++)
passion fruit sorbet, toasted almonds

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My thanks to Pamela for inviting and hosting dinner!

Bochinche
22 Martin Road
6235 4990

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It’s all about girls and dolls on Hina Matsuri, a day traditionally celebrated in Japan on 3 March when families wish their daughters success and happiness in life. In line with this time-honoured festival, Mikuni pays tribute for the 4th time through Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo’s culinary interpretation – an impressive lunch bento thoughtfully arranged to be a feast for the feminine eye and palate that’s only available from 1 to 10 March.

Starter
organic japanese green salad, snow crab, orange, blueberry, black sesame

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Priced at $120++ per person for lunch, the Hina Matsuri bento features an array of elegantly crafted dishes in a dainty tiered box and a complimentary glass of amazake (sweet rice beverage). When the three tiered boxes were carefully served, everyone went “waaaaaaa!” as they were indeed a sight to behold. I wanted to take mine home but Chef Moon said the box is really expensive lol. What I could take home was the menu – prettily printed and designed as a bookmark.

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Pulling out the three drawers was like opening a treasure box filled with edible gems! The top drawer housed a beautiful layer of Mikuni’s signature truffle kanpachi served with a distinctively indulgent black truffle sauce. I’ve tried this before during the past Savour events and the top notch quality has never changed. If it’s your first time at Mikuni, this is a must try!

Sashimi
kanpachi sashimi, truffle soy sauce

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The second drawer is a showcase of eight traditional Japanese appetizers with my favourites such as grilled miso cod, unagi and tamago. Be on the lookout for one quail egg – it’s been cutely disguised ha. The most surprising element for me was the abalone. I usually don’t like abalone because of the chewy texture but I have to say that this slow-cooked version was not rubbery at all. In fact, quite delicious I say.

Assorted Appetizers
8 traditional hassun: grilled miso cod, slow-cooked abalone, eel, octopus, umeboshi plum, asparagus, japanese pickles, miso egg

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I felt sad when the third drawer was revealed as that meant that the end was near. The default chirashi don unveiled is Miyazaki wagyu beef on rice but Chef Moon pampered me with uni instead since I’m a pescetarian. So fresh and creamy! The medley of colours artfully decorated atop sushi rice was lovely too.

Rice
uni chirashi don, seaweed, shrimp, tamago

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The tempura was not oily but not as impressive as the other dishes for sure. I’m generally a big eater (when I want to) and this bento filled me up nicely about 80%. Just right for lunch without the food coma afterwards, I guess.

Tempura
prawn, sweet potato, fish, pumpkin, green bean

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Rounding off the meal is Chef Moon’s rendition of a sweet ending with premium Shizoka musk melon and salt ice cream. The tinge of saltiness in the ice cream seamlessly enhanced the sweetness of the melon, interesting!

Dessert
shizoka musk melon, salted ice cream

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My thanks to Chef Moon and the Fairmont team for hosting us!

Mikuni
Level 3, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
6431 6156

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