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If you like Indonesian food, Kintamani should definitely be on your list, if not already. After all, it is a well-known institution established since 1985 (older than me!) and offers traditional Halal Balinese cuisine over either a buffet spread or savoury ala carte menu.

Just the tahu telur (tahu = beancurd; telur = eggs) alone will bring me back to Kintamani in an instant. Wonderfully crispy and eggy on the inside, moist and meltingly soft on the inside, drizzled with a rich peanut sauce, so good! Both the charcoal grilled red snapper and deep-fried buttered prawns tossed with egg yolk and curry leaves were fresh and worth a try too.

The only dish I didn’t like was the slipper lobster coated with chilli – the sauce was sweet instead of spicy, and lacked an oomph factor.

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Tahu Telur Surabaya ($12++)
javanese beancurd, omelette, shredded cucumber, carrot, spicy peanut sauce

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Udang Galah Sambel Belado ($28++)
fried slipper lobster, chilli

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Ikan Bakar Jimbaran ($32++)
charcoal grilled red snapper, jimbaran sauce “sambel matah” chilli

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Udang Goreng Mentega ($28++)
deep-fried buttered prawns, egg yolk, curry leaves

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My thanks to Li-lin and Jun for hosting dinner!

Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant
Furama RiverFront
405 Havelock Road
6333 8898

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A quintessential Japanese winter dish, oden is traditionally served in a pot of light dashi and a mixture of 4-5 ingredients such as boiled eggs, fish cake and daikon. To me, it is simply the Japanese equivalent of yong tau foo and HAN has taken one step further to modernize it by serving each ingredient in individual courses, allowing the distinctive taste of each component to be highlighted in every dish.

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Go all out and opt for the (comprehensive but expensive) HAN’s Oden Kaiseki ($160++) which includes an appetizer, sashimi, 7 kinds of oden, 1 grilled course, 1 fried course, a choice between udon or ochazuke and dessert. That may sound like a lot of food but at the end of my dinner, I felt comfortably full as the entire meal was generally light and clean-tasting.

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With versions of oden differing according to region, HAN has chosen to serve Kansai-style oden, native to the southern-central region of Japan’s main island of Honshu. This region spans the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Okayama and uses a light shoyu in their oden. Although Executive Chef Seiichiro Arakawa’s interpretation of oden reflects the style of cooking in Kamigata, Osaka, his version uses a white shoyu which yields an even clearer broth and sweeter taste.

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According to Chef Arakawa, the best oden is guided by three principles. The first is to ensure precise seasoning so that the ingredient itself has a specific taste. The second requires the dish to be accompanied by a sauce or condiment (e.g. miso or mustard). Lastly, cooking must be used as a vehicle to bring out the natural and purest taste of each ingredient used.

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I like that the oden is cooked and prepared right before the guests seated at the dining counter. Each dish is handcrafted before being placed into simmering oden pots and cooked for a precise length of time. Chef Arakawa uses seasonal ingredients from Japan and incorporates Kaiseki techniques inspired by his training at Kitcho, a Michelin star traditional Ryotei in Kyoto. His oden soup base is prepared with a blend of kelp, dried bonito, white shoyu and mirin while a selection of sauces and condiments are chosen to complement and enhance each dish.

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Menu highlights include fried beancurd cake with mustard which looks and sounds simple but has multiple steps involved – Chef Arakawa presses and mashes the tofu to form a paste, combines it with ground yam, finely diced cloud ear mushrooms and carrots, forms the mixture into balls, fries them and then cooked in the broth before serving! My favourite is definitely the Hokkaido king crab leg, so naturally sweet and succulent that I was almost moved to tears! #dramamama

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Before oden and for the past three years, HAN specializes in kushikatsu, i.e. skewered meat/seafood/vegetables dipped in batter and panko (breadcrumbs) and deep-fried in oil. I have never believed in frying fresh seafood but at least these were expertly fried and not oily at all!

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After all the seafood dishes, the wasabi ochazuke and fresh seasonal Japanese melon/peach were a refreshing change!

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P.S. Those looking for the complete oden experience can select HAN’s Oden Omakase ($120++) which includes an appetizer, 12 different types of oden (truly for the oden lovers!), 2 palate cleansers, a choice of udon or ochazuke and dessert. Alternatively, ala carte oden is available at market price.

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Special thanks to Ada for hosting dinner!

HAN Cuisine of Naniwa
#01-04, Odeon Towers
331 North Bridge Road
+65 6336 2466

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I sat down for dinner with minimum expectation as I had read mixed reviews about Bread Street Kitchen, the highly anticipated restaurant and bar by Gordon Ramsay at Marina Bay Sands. Offering classic British European fare, the signature dishes include pork belly, shepherd’s pie, roasted veal carpaccio, as well as the BSK burger with melted Monterey Jack cheese and spicy sriracha mayo in a brioche bun. Sound delicious on paper but we had none of those.

Instead, we chose what we know we will like – crispy flatbread topped with naturally sweet butternut squash (must try!), seared bouncy scallops, roasted black cod for me and a hearty slab of rare Irish rib-eye 28 days aged for K. Every dish was well-executed and thoroughly enjoyable! The only misses were the bland Alaskan king crab cocktail and Chinese/Korean-ish spicy tuna tartare which we would not recommend. Maybe the salmon ceviche next time?

Our last course was excellent – again, as with the savoury, we decided not to go for much-publicized-on-blogs sweets such as the treacle tart with crème fraiche ice-cream. We scored with the expertly prepared desserts – the chocolate fondant had an impressive flow of rich dark molten lava; the cheesecake was light and a perfect match with roasted balsamic strawberries; and the coffee white chocolate parfait? Simply lovely!

Pick wisely and I’m sure you will have a great time here.

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Flatbread ($20++)
butternut squash, taleggio cheese, mushrooms, pine nuts, basil pesto

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Alaskan King Crab Cocktail ($28++)
apple, pink peppercorn

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Seared Scallops ($24++)
carrot purée, treacle cured bacon, apple, celery cress

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Spicy Tuna Tartare ($19++)
chilli, garlic, sesame oil, wonton crisps

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Roasted Black Cod ($44++)
crushed potatoes, salted capers, artichoke, red wine, lemon sauce

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Irish Angus Rib-eye Steak ($68++)
12oz 28 days aged grass fed, green peppercorn sauce

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Half Lobster (supplement $25++)
make your own surf and turf with any grill

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Chocolate Fondant ($20++)
salted caramel, mint chocolate chip ice cream

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Monkey Shoulder Cranachan Cheesecake ($18++)
roasted balsamic strawberries

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Coffee and White Chocolate Parfait ($18++)
poached blackberries

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My thanks to Philicia for arranging dinner!

Bread Street Kitchen
Bay Level, L1-81
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
+65 6688 5665

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I’m sure you already know – Epicurean Market 2015 opens tomorrow and will run till 16 August. I’ve been to the previous two events and no way am I going to miss the latest third edition! These are the dishes which I’m eyeing from the celebrity restaurants:

Adrift: californian heirloom tomato toast with vanilla and turmeric, and its signature King crab melt with pimento cheese (pineapple tamarind glazed pork ribs sound interesting too);
– Long Chim: grilled eggplant salad with dried prawn (meaty dishes include beef skewers, charred rice noodles with pork and yellow beans, and deep-fried chicken with plum sauce);
– Waku Ghin: marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar which is a familiar favourite (though I think the menu is quite boring and repetitive every year);
– Osteria Mozza: grilled octopus (there is also a new cold pasta dish – squid ink chitarra freddi with sea urchin, fresh crabmeat and jalapeno pesto);
– Spago: spicy tuna tartare (looking forward to this the most as it’s a sneak preview ahead of its official opening!)

Stay tuned by my Instagram tomorrow evening for my thoughts on the hits and misses!

Credit: Marina Bay Sands

Credit: Marina Bay Sands

Besides food, the other highlights are:

– Over 35 masterclasses from celebrity chefs and various experts
Farmer’s Market with the freshest produce, including Chef Daniel Boulud’s famous Epicerie Boulud
– Fine wines, spirits and premium coffee
Cocktail Bar and Whisky Lounge by Diageo with mini-workshops by experts
After Party on 14 and 15 August 2015
– Exclusive tasting sessions of LOUIS XIII de Rémy Martin and Single Malt by Glen Ord Distillery
Instagram contest: share your most instagrammable moment with us and stand to win an experience for 2 at the cheese and chocolate bar!

Credit: Marina Bay Sands

Credit: Marina Bay Sands

Epicurean Market will be held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Basement 2, Hall D & E from 14 – 16 August 2015.
Priced at $28 per person for a three-day pass, tickets include a complimentary pair of Schott Zwiesel red wine glasses.

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The existing menu of modern tapas at Salt Tapas & Bar has been revived with the arrival of Executive Chef Ronald Li. Formerly from KU DÉ TA (now CÉ LA VI), Chef Ronald has created a menu celebrating hearty, slow-cooked fare. More impressive is that although this is essentially still a “bar”, he pays close attention to presentation – every plate arrives on the table looking beautiful and artistic.

Menu highlights include the grilled eryngii mushrooms on a bed of chive aioli which I love. There’s minimal seasoning so the natural sweetness of the juicy mushrooms shines through. Even though the menu has supposedly an “Australian twist”, I find that there’s a bit of Middle Eastern influences too – curried roast pumpkin with labneh and dukkah; golden and red beets with ricotta and fresh figs; haloumi paired with eggplant and chickpea. All three were very tasty and I can see myself coming back for more!

Out of the new “mains to share” section, the “fish to share” features a 400g slab of grilled barramundi. Accompanied by tangy mango salsa and sautéed broccolini, the moist and delicate fish is simply grilled with a dash of yuzu to highlight its natural delicate flavor. I heard another noteworthy main to share is the paella with lashings of creamy saffron rouille but I gave that a miss since I’m not keen on carb-heavy rice dishes.

If there’s only one dessert I can have, it’s definitely going to be the gooey chocolate tart crowned with a scoop of mango sorbet. I can never resist dark chocolate – especially when thin buttery crust and non-icy sorbet are part of the deal. And be warned, get the dulce de leche semifreddo only if you have an extreme sweet tooth!

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Grilled Eryngii Mushroom ($9++)
chive aioli

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Taco of Tempura Prawn ($12++)
pineapple salsa, chipotle aioli

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Beets, Ricotta, Fig ($15++)
pickle green chilli, honey & thyme dressing

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Haloumi, Eggplant, Chickpea ($13++)
dried tomatoes, herbs, tahini dressing

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Curried Roast Pumpkin ($14++)
capsicum, labneh, dukkah & coriander

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Scallops, Pancetta ($25++)
green tomato, chutney, apple & chives

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Fish to Share – Grilled barramundi ($60++, 400g)
mango salsa, sautéed brocolini

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Gooey Chocolate Tart ($14++)
mango sorbet

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Dulce de Leche & Salted Pecan Semifreddo ($13++)
strawberries, coconut wafer

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Thank you, Ada, for hosting dinner!

Salt Tapas & Bar
#01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
6837 0995

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Over a year in the re-making, Coriander Leaf marks its 14th year in the business by reopening at CHIJMES with a brand new look and diverse Asian “small plates” menu, which is categorised into five distinct flavour verticals of Fresh, Familiar, Spicy, Umami and Sweet.

Salads are predictably under the Fresh column – if you are a fan of coconuts like me, definitely try the refreshing marinated prawn salad tossed with crisp, snow white grated coconut. Next is Familiar – a list of popular dishes from the old Coriander Leaf such as no-fail miso cod and a very tasty grilled eggplant casserole that is reminiscent of the classic parmigiana. Classified as Umami is the wonderfully addictive soft shell crab covered in silky salted duck egg yolk sauce and fragrant curry leaf. Not to mention a potent bisque-like prawn sauce topped with creamy sea urchin and scrambled egg and K’s favourite meat of the night – oven roasted angus paired with an intriguing spicy dip and fish sauce.

On the Sweet end is Halo Halo, a novel Chinese and Japanese inspired dessert of Filipino origin, with old-school White Rabbit candy and condensed milk ice cream, shaved ice, leche flan, sweet potato, jackfruit, and frosted flakes. I love everything about it except the corn flakes – they add a crunchy texture, yes, but seem to cheapen the dish hmm. Substituting with nuts will be a win, I reckon. Another not-quite-there-yet dessert is the spiced lava cake with teh tarik ice cream. The latter is faultlessly creamy and rich but the cake… No flow, sigh.

I want to be back, as I have not explored much of the Spicy selections! Plus, there is that gorgeous cooking studio that is putting ideas into my head… Company social event, hehe.

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FRESH
marinated prawn salad, grated coconut ($15++);
rice noodle salad, roast duck, mint, coriander leaf, vietnamese basil ($12++)

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FAMILIAR
grilled eggplant, chickpeas, browned butter ($12++)

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FAMILIAR
miso marinated silver cod ($28++)

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SPICY
wok fried tiger prawns, japanese momotaro tomatoes, chilli padi ($24++)

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UMAMI
sea urchin, scrambled egg, prawn sauce ($25++)

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UMAMI
oven roasted, kecap manis rubbed cape grim angus, spicy dip, fish sauce, lime juice, coriander ($35++)

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UMAMI
soft shell crab, salted duck egg yolk sauce, curry leaves ($16++)

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UMAMI
nepalese minced chicken momo dumpling, roasted tomato relish, szechuan pepper ($10++)

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SWEET
white rabbit condensed milk ice cream, mango granita, leche flan, sweet potato, jack fruit, frosted flakes, shaved ice ($15++)

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SWEET
spiced lava cake, teh tarik ice cream

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My thanks to Charissa for hosting dinner!

Coriander Leaf
#02-01 CHIJMES 30 Victoria Street
6837 0142

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After reading so many mixed reviews, I was ready to write off Paddy Hills as just another hipster cafe with form over substance but our brunch was really enjoyable! Perhaps we were there on a good day, perhaps we picked the right dishes, who knows? It’s obvious that much thought has been put into making sure that the menu stays unconventional – no to eggs benny, yes to kimchi fried rice! The latter is rather average, though very photogenic ha. Another unexceptional item is the beautifully fried but bland cauliflower fritters which need more seasoning. “The Maze” is well-loved by K – smooth creamy mash with generous portions of tender and non-gamey lamb meatballs. And I sneaked a bite of BFF’s “Hash Hash” – a rich baked egg-ish pan of tomato, chorizo and sauteed mushrooms, delish! Not forgetting my browned and crispy rosti with seared moist sea bass, of course. The potato is sliced sooooo thinly and resembles mee sua! Love this much.

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Cauliflower Fritters ($12++)
paprika salt, masala yogurt

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Potato & Fish ($22+)
rosti, seared sea bass, sous vide egg, sauteed mushrooms, deconstructed bagna cauda

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The Maze ($22+)
creamy mash, lamb meatballs, cauliflower fritters, polenta chips, crumbled manchego, sous vide egg

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Kimchi Fried Rice ($20+)
hanger steak, ito togarashi, negi, nori, sous vide egg

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Hash Hash ($24+)
toasted bread, roasted baby potatoes, chorizo, sauteed mushrooms, beef shank, polenta chips, shaved fennel, sous vide egg, baked egg

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Paddy Hills
38 South Buona Vista Road
6479 0800

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It was such a privilege to meet Chef Cat Cora in person when she was in town to introduce the new seafood dinner set menu at Ocean Restaurant. Fangirl moment aside, I really did enjoy the new menu more than the previous one!

I’ve never cared for oysters so when the 6-course menu ($168++) started with the amuse bouche of fresh oyster, I wasn’t too excited. Luckily the sautéed langoustines which followed was perfect – firm juicy flesh served alongside crustacean cream and baby fennel, delicious! Likewise the torched brown trout which Chef de Cuisine Yew Eng Tong recreated from his win at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Asian by pairing it with smoked eel and then rounding off with refreshing crunchy cucumber and caviar vinaigrette.

My favourite was hands down the charred corn soup – something different yet comforting. One of the restaurant’s signature ingredients, the blue swimmer crab was made into a crispy fritter and and the thick hearty soup had an alluring smokey flavour. Final main course was a moist slab of sustainable cod fillet from New Zealand – I still remember the layer of brittle scales! For dessert, the rocky grand cru chocolate was a dreamy chocolate creation. The elegantly plated dish had a base of bitter chocolate, passion fruit creme at the side, and various textures of chocolate in sponge and mousse forms, so good!

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Fresh Oyster
passion fruit, watermelon salsa

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Torched Brown Trout “Fabio”
smoked eel, crunchy cucumber, caviar vinaigrette

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Sautéed Langoustine
crustacean cream, baby fennel, leek, soft herb

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Charred Corn Soup
beignet of blue swimmer crab, bacon crumble

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Cod Fish
chorizo, smoke potato

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Rocky Grand Cru
bitter chocolate rock, passion fruit creme, textures of chocolate

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Will never tire of this view!

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Many thanks to Charmaine and Lavinia for hosting dinner!

Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora
8 Sentosa Gateway
S.E.A. Aquarium, Level B1M
6577 6688

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Fellow unagi lovers, you won’t want to miss the summer unagi festival “Doyo No Ushi No Hi” at Mikuni!

Celebrated in Japan during the sweltering summer season, referred to as “Doyo”, the Japanese believe that the consumption of nutritious eel helps to increase stamina and beat the summer heat. So from now till 31 August 2015, Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo will showcase a resplendent display of traditionally cooked unagi dishes through a specially curated lunch and dinner set menu. Live unagi can be seen swimming in the huge tanks at the entrance – imported live from the Aichi prefecture and all ready to be eaten *evil laugh*

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Complemented with the season’s freshest items, the delectably presented dishes are a treat for the senses. Although the 5-course lunch is a subset of the more luxurious 8-course dinner, it looks no less impressive!

Mikuni Eel Special Summer Lunch ($120++)
chef’s seasonal selection of zensai, sashimi, sunomono moriawase, grilled eel on rice, kyushu peach ice cream

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My favourite on the dinner menu ($220++) is the appetizer of delicate barbecued eel jelly with tamago accompanied by tangy smoked salmon yuzu, eel yahata maki burdock and addictive crispy eel bone. All parts of unagi can be eaten and this dish demonstrates exactly that – skin, meat and bone are all creatively utilized!

Chef’s Seasonal Selection – 3 Kinds of Zensai
bbq eel jelly, smoked salmon yuzu, eel yahata maki burdock, eel bone

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Out of the 8-course menu, only the soup and dessert have no unagi in it (I’m not complaining). Warm and comforting, this bowl of beancurd skin and shreds of snow crab seems like a savoury version of the Chinese ginkgo beancurd 腐竹 dessert!

Soup
fresh beancurd skin, hokkaido snow crab, mushroom, yuzu

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No words needed when there’s fresh fatty toro and creamy uni! *bliss*

Seasonal Sashimi
hokkaido sea urchin, aori ika, toro, yellowtail, sea bream

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Beautifully presented in a shell, the plump and delicate grilled “salted” eel is far from salty but naturally sweet and luscious! Have to admit that I’m not a fan of the chewy abalone though.

Grilled Salted Eel
abalone, mikuni sauce, wasabi, daikon

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Each well-seasoned skewer of beef is deep-fried in panko before being topped with a piece of unagi, mustard caviar, flying fish roe and uni. Not for the faint-hearted, these golden skewers are Chef Moon’s take on the traditional Japanese recipe!

Skewers
kagoshima wagyu beef kushikatsu, black truffle, mustard caviar

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My seafood version was equally decadent!

Skewers (Seafood)
salmon, scallop, crab, asparagus

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Sunomono Moriawase
eel, scallop, shrimp, ginger flower, seaweed, tomato

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Highlight of the lunch and dinner menu is definitely the unadon (鰻丼), a.k.a. charcoal grilled eel on rice. Presented in an exquisite lacquer box, the finely grilled and aromatic eel takes center stage with its succulent and tender meat. Incredibly soft!

Charcoal Grilled Eel on Rice
mixed japanese pickle, kyushu shijimi freshwater clam miso soup

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Peaches (momo) are in season now so I was not surprised to see it being featured on this limited-time-only menu. Ripe and juicy Kyushu peach goes extremely well with the smooth ice cream made of peach and yogurt! Wonderful and refreshing end to one of the most memorable meals at Mikuni so far!

Dessert
kyushu peach, raspberry, peach ice cream

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Thank you for hosting dinner, Ruth and Laureen!

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

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Three dinners at Candlenut later, I’m convinced that this is now my favourite Peranakan restaurant in Singapore. We have tried most of the seafood (and a couple of meat) dishes on the menu and here’s my list of what (and what not) to order:

Must try:

1. Wing bean salad: had this thrice and still loving the refreshing combination of crisp wing bean, crunchy cashew and herbs tossed with tangy lime dressing!

2. Buah keluak: you can’t leave before trying this classic Peranakan “black gold”! The “buah keluak” or black nuts are soaked and scrubbed for a minimum of 5 days (phew!) and the filling is extracted to form an exquisite marinade. K loves the chicken version, done traditional style with buah keluak sambal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf but I think the wok tossed crayfish rendition is lovely too! And then there’s the homemade earthy buah keluak ice cream, oh my. Made with 80% Valhrona chocolate, served on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble and chilli specks, and topped with warm milk chocolate espuma, this is one unforgettable dessert.

3. Yellow coconut crab curry: the thick creamy gravy infused with turmeric, galangal and kaffir lime leaf is one flavourful bomb on the palate and the blue swimmer crab meat is so fresh! The presentation and taste remind us of Nahm Restaurant’s (similarly named) coconut turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab in Bangkok.

4. Assam sotong: you know me, I don’t like squid usually but the sautéed squid with squid ink, chillies, tamarind and crispy shallots is too good to resist. I’m always amazed at how tender they are! The other squid item on the menu, sambal “choking” sotong (because apparently the kitchen “chokes” every time this smoky, spicy dish is fried), pales somewhat in comparison.

5. Sambal kacang petai: either you love this or you hate it. I belong to the former camp obviously – the stir fried petai beans with tamarind and chilli sambal are not stinky but fragrant! My friends refused to touch them (it’s the smelly tofu syndrome), all the more for K and myself yay!

Worth trying:

1. Coconut charcoal grilled wild caught red snapper: I only ordered this on my last visit and regretted not trying this earlier! The fish fillets are meaty and go very well with the fiery dried shrimp samba.

2. Candlenut satay: the grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers are tender but what steals the limelight is the rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce on the side. I love it so much and make sure that there’s always an extra serving on our table. They charge an additional $1.50++ per serving but whatever, just take my money, I want to dip all my food in it!

Skip:

1. Omelette chincalok: fermented blend of salted baby shrimps and folded with spring onions, this omelette is easily replicable and average at best.

2. Chap chye: Nice homely dish of braised cabbage with mushrooms, sweet and dried bean curd, pork belly and black fungus in rich prawn stock gravy, but nothing exciting.

3. Gula melaka king prawns: the coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka is delicious but $24++ for two prawns? Nah, I’ll pass!

4. Chendol cream and durian soup: Nothing can go wrong with coconut custard, gula melaka sauce and pandan jelly or potent durian ice cream with feuilletine and fresh durian purée right? True, but I find that the portions are too small. Can get better and bigger ones elsewhere!

2015_05_29

Wing Bean Salad ($14++)
salad of wing beans with prawns, crispy fish, baby red radish, lemongrass, chilli flakes, cashew nuts, mint, coriander with lime dressing

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Candlenut Satay ($10++)
grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers served with rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce, cucumbers & red onions

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Sambal Kacang Petai ($14++)
stir fried stinky petai beans with tamarind & chilli sambal, crispy shallots

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Yellow Coconut Crab Curry ($24++)
blue swimmer crab meat, turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf

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Sambal “Choking” Sotong ($14++)
wok fried squid with tomatoes, red onion, sambal chilli

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Gula Melaka King Prawns ($24++)
coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka, lemongrass & roasted coconut, fresh herbs & chilli

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Buah Keluak Local Crayfish ($18++)
wok tossed crayfish with sambal, buah keluak, & kaffir lime

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Candlenut
#01-03 Dorsett Residences
331 New Bridge Road
8121 4107

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