Fat Cow @ Camden Medical Centre – Holy Cow of a Set Lunch

6 10 2014

What I miss most about student life is the ability to partake in unhurried set lunches at “atas” establishments, at a fraction of the price of dinner service. Though even back then, it wasn’t easy to find restaurants that actually had set lunches worth going for, as the less dear set lunch prices usually meant getting certain items that were a poor excuse for a course. That’s what was so amazing with my first lunch visit to Fat Cow, a not so well kept secret of a Japanese Beef atelier. A typical dinner here easily runs into the $150-$300 range per pax, while set lunches are priced extremely reasonably between $26-$48++, which includes a salad, miso soup, chawanmushi, a choice between 12 main courses and dessert. Better yet, the set lunch is also available on Saturdays!

I first heard of Fat Cow from J almost 3 years back, after it had taken over the premises from Le Figue, a reputed French restaurant back in the day. It’s regretable that my first experience had come so late, for this is a gem that one should always keep close to heart.

*If you are planning on dining ala carte here, do download the Entertainer Singapore 2014 App, which contains three 1-for-1 vouchers on Main Courses here. The use of 1 Voucher already saves more than the 1-year subscription cost to the App.

Reception Area / Bar

Below is what a typical set lunch here looks like, with a partially eaten salad and sans the dessert. As mentioned above, there are 12 main courses to choose from for set lunches here, ranging from Tempura Dons, Chirashi, Sushi, Miso Cod, Kurobuta Tonkatsu, Beef Curry but most popular would be the Fat Cow Donburi (below) and the Fat Foa-gura Don.

Set lunch with half eaten salad and sans the dessert

The Fat Cow Donburi ($39++/set) comprised of A3 grade Charcoal-grilled Wagyu laced with truffle oil, with a perfectly poached onsen egg on the side. Freaking orgasmic is all I can say.

The Fat Cow Donburi

I really enjoyed the Fat Foa-gura Don ($43++/set) as well, which was grilled wagyu and glazed foie gras over rice. The beef is served in cubes with slightly more bite compared to the thinly sliced beef from the donburi and I feel that this allowed for a greater realization of how tender the beef actually was. The oily, decadent pieces of foie gras was executed expertly and not overcooked, definitely something I would consider ordering if it was available as a standalone side dish. While I could go at this all day, some might find this dish slightly unctuous. Well, that’s their loss.

Fat Foa-gura Don

Feedback from E was that the Chirashi ($48++/set) was decent as well, though from her facial expression, I could tell that her pleasure points fell short of the ecstasy I was feeling. Lucky for her, we also ordered some ala carte grilled wagyu, so not all was lost that day.

We tried the grilled Grade A3 Sirloin ($120++/150g) from Saga prefecture which is on the northwest part of Kyushu island and the grilled Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye ($120++/150g) from Shiga prefecture. Unanimously, we all preferred the ribeye because the marbling was evidently better and had a richer flavor compared to the sirloin.

Now some people might ask, why do I pay in excess of $200 for a wagyu steak at those fancy schmancy restaurants when the same wagyu steak only costs $50 at Astons? The reason is because most likely, they aren’t the same. There are 3 things to look for when getting down and dirty with wagyu that might explain this price differential. Firstly, is it a cross-bred wagyu from Australia/US or pure-bred wagyu from Japan? Drilling down even deeper, wagyu really refers to Japanese beef, of which there are multiple breeds from the different prefectures (best known would of course be kobe) and each commands a different premium.

Secondly, assuming it is a purebred Japanese wagyu that we are looking at, the meat is then categorized by 2 grading metrics, one that looks at the yield of the meat (ratio of meat to the total weight of the carcass) and one that looks at the quality (marbling, meat colour, texture, fat colour).

For the yield metric, the beef is categorized either as A, B or C, with A (having the most yield) usually derived from a purebred Japanese wagyu. For the quality metric, the beef is then scored from 1-5, with 5 being the best. In addition, there is also a beef marble score (BMS) that is related to the quality metric, that scores the marbling on a scale from 3-12, where an A5 wagyu would have a BMS of between 8-12, an A4 wagyu would have a BMS of 5-7 and an A3 wagyu would have a BMS of 3-4.

Top: Saga Grade A3 Sirloin ($120++/150g), Bottom: Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye ($120++/150g)

Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye

Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye

To end off our set lunch, we were provided with a scoop of Honeycomb Ice Cream and it was delish. Again, something that I wouldn’t mind ordering ala carte if it wasn’t part of the set lunch.

Given the flawless and reasonably priced set lunch, I can openly say that this has now become my top 2 favourite set lunches locally, the other being Ember (though I haven’t had the chance to revisit after Chef Sebastian left earlier this year).

 Fat Cow

1 Orchard Boulevard, #01-01/02 Camden Medical Centre, Singapore 248649

Tel: +65 6735 0308

Website: http://www.fat-cow.com.sg/





Salt Grill & Sky Bar – Where Memories are Made to Last

8 06 2014

You have to agree that to a large extent, the best litmus test of what constitutes a great restaurant lies in whether or not one remembers the food eaten there, a couple years down the road.

Having been at Salt Grill & Sky Bar two years back for restaurant week, the vivid image of an amazing appetizer, the crab omelette with enoki mushrooms is still left imprinted in my mind. It’s no wonder it’s been kept on the menu through the years as one of the restaurant’s signatures.

I was back here again for an unraveling of the restaurant’s new menu offerings and post-renovation works. Shan’t bore you too much with the nitty gritty details and let the pics do the talking of the restaurant layout. Essentially, the key difference is the repainting of the pillars to a more rustic hue and the relocation of the Sky Bar from the 56th storey (where in its place is now a private dining area) to the mezzanine level (between the 55th and 56th storey).

Private dining area on the 56th storey (2nd level of the restaurant)

As mentioned above, the restaurant is perched on the 55th and 56th floor of Ion Orchard, providing a spectacular view of the Singapore skyline. You can even see MBS in the distance. To access the restaurant, diners will have to take a private lift from the 4th storey of Ion.

Evening view from the restaurant

As this was an invited tasting, most of the dishes served today were tasting portions rather than full portions, just in case you are wondering why the portions look so petite.

The complimentary Bread selection here is made in-house and served with olive oil and dukkah (a mix of Macadamia, Cashhew, Sesame, Cumin, Coriander and Salt).

To kick off our meal, we had the Coconut broth with Sydney spice (Kaffir lime leaves, Lemon Myrtle, Tumeric, Ginger, Galangal, Chili, Garlic and Salt), which tasted much like an amalgam of a rich frothy seafood bisque and green curry. An interesting blend that definitely aroused my appetite.

One of my favourite dishes that night was the Sashimi of Kingfish, ginger, eschalot & goats feta ($33++). While the preparation for the dish is seemingly simplistic, the flavours brought forth were in perfect symphony. I liked how clean the sashimi tasted, indicating it’s freshness. The sweet ginger also paired well with the fattiness of the kingfish. I would already have given it full marks without the feta, as I felt that the pungency of the feta added little extra value.

While not terrible by any standards, the Baby vegetables, goats curd, ginger bread crumbs, dried black olives ($31++) came across as the least impressive among the dishes I had that night.

As a blast from the past, the ‘Glass’ Sydney crab omelette, enoki mushroom & herb salad, miso mustard broth ($33++) remained stellar as ever, with sheets of velvety omelette encasing slivers of sweet crab meat that complemented the briny broth well. The earthly enoki mushrooms also added a nice crunch to the overall texture of the dish.

The Tea smoked quail, almond cream, prunes, grains, grilled shallot, sorrel ($31++) was noteworthy too, made even more impressive by the fact that well-executed quail can be rather hard to come by. I particularly like the flavours of the Earl Grey Tea that was infused particularly well onto the glaze, interestingly it reminded me of the deepness your senses perceive from a Garrett’s Caramel-flavored popcorn sans the sweetness.

In the case where diners are interested to order a steak, the staff may wheel out a trolley of the different cuts available, facilitating the decision making process for diners. For ourselves, we had the 300-day grain fed Sirloin from Rangers Valley, New South Wales, which was marinated with Moroccan spice and served with sauté spinach, eggplant puree and red wine sauce ($74++). With a marbling score of 2+ (out of a possible 5) based on Australian grading standards, what I got was an average quality cut of beef that wasn’t extremely marbled and still required some chewing. Personally, I thought this was appropriate for such a cooking style and as a main course, as an overly marbled piece of beef often leaves one feeling awfully oleaginous after just a few slices.

Another one of Luke’s signatures that we tried was the Liquorice parfait, lime ($18++). While I’m not fans of liquorice, overall the dessert proved to be a success. The outer layer of the parfait was liquorice flavoured but the inner core of the dessert tasted somewhat like an extremely mild frozen cheesecake which effectively toned down the liquorice.

From the various drinks I tried, I would highly recommend the Salt cooler ($14++), a mocktail concocted from Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lychee, apple, cranberry juice and lemonade. Extremely refreshing without the envisioned tartness nor astringency from the berries.

The restaurant’s signature cocktail is known as The Australian by Luke Mangan ($18++), made from Lime segment, lime leaf, ginger, cognac, gin, cranberry, shaken with Luke’s syrup. Found it a little on the strong side with strong hints of lime.

Cocktails of the day are sold at $15++ and the one featuring that night was The Chocolatini, made from Vodka, white chocolate sauce, green apple syrup and creme de cacao white (Usual Price, $18++). Similar to The Australian, I found this a little on the strong side. On the plus side, this Chocolatini was really thick, unlike some watery versions I have had in neighbourhood bars.

Before calling it a night, I would also recommend having a Grasshopper ($18++), a cocktail made from Creme de menthe, creme de cacao white and milk, tasting much like an “After Eight chocolate” and minty like Colgate, leaving your palate cleansed from the hearty meal.

Grasshopper (Left), Chocolatini (Right), Half-drank Salt Cooler (Far right)

Special thanks to Salt Grill & Sky Bar for the invitation. You made my Wednesday night.

Salt Grill & Sky Bar

2 Orchard Turn, 55 & 56 Floor Ion Orchard, Singapore 238801

Tel: +65 6592 5118





The Sushi Bar – Best Chirashi in Town

25 04 2013

You can call it what you like, cramped or intimate but nothing will change the fact the The Sushi Bar is easily one of the best no-frills Japanese eateries in Singapore. I refrain from saying it’s the best just because I have yet to try every no-frills Japanese eatery in Singapore but frankly, it’s currently my joint favourite place to satisfy my Jap cravings, on par with Aoki.

What I mean by no-frills is not that you have to self-serve but just that it’s the kind of place where non-essentials like expensive furnishings are done away with and letting the reasonably priced food speak for itself. Don’t expect super cheap prices however. It’s still going to be a tad more expensive than places like Sushi Tei but the experience and the quality of food you get here is on a totally different level.

I would highly recommend starting of with one of their signatures, the Scallop Mentaiyaki ($13.90++). Scallop is one of my favourite sashimi but top it off with a rich savoury mentaiko (pollock roe) mayo sauce and poof, heaven on a plate.

Other favourites here would be the Chirashi (sashimi on rice). There are 3 types available to cater for people on different budgets and preferences priced at $18.90, $24.90 and $34.90 respectively. The difference would mainly be the type of sashimi used and maybe the thickness of the sashimi.

For the most affordably priced variant, you get Salmon, Swordfish, Yellowtail, Tuna, Crab, Seared Tuna, Seared Salmon Belly, Ika (Squid), Tako (Octopus), Ebiko (Shrimp roe), Ikura (Salmon roe) and Tamago (sweet egg).

Chirashi ($18.90)

For the $24.90 variant, the main difference is that you get more Ikura and Scallops!

Chirashi ($24.90)

Lastly, for the Premium $34.90 variant, you get additional Uni (Sea Urchin) and a Sweet Shrimp as well. Seriously, what more can you ask for in a Chirashi. The chef is quite flexible so do sound out if you don’t like stuff like tako and seared tuna and they will replace it with similar priced items.

Premium Chirashi ($34.90)

Given that 2 of my friends ordered this again (on top of their Chirashi), it’s safe to say that the Salmon Aburi Roll ($13.90) is worth a try as well.

2 Portions of Salmon Aburi rolls

The Tofu Cheesecake ($4.50) is their sole dessert option on the menu. Not as good as Sun with Moon’s but should still prove to be a delightful ending to an extremely satisfying meal.

Oh another plus point is that all prices here are nett. Queues can get quite long so do try to make reservations.

The Sushi Bar

14 Scotts Road, #03-89 Far East Plaza

Tel: +65 9625 0861





&Made by Bruno Menard – Not Making the Cut

12 08 2012

Waking up at 11.30am and far too lazy to make any reservations, I met up with R in town for our usual nice meal routine. Being a weekday, it was inconceivable that Salt Grill & Sky Bar would run a full house but alas, it was so even as we trotted in late at 1.30pm.

So, it was a mere coincidence that we ended up at &Made for lunch on this eve of National Day. While a friend had highlighted its existence to me just the day before, I had no idea it was conceptualized by a man holding 3 Michelin Stars, Chef Bruno Menard. I guess it’s good that I was unaware of this fact as one tends to form unrealistic expectations and set unobjective standards in such instances, even if it’s just a casual burger joint.

Truthfully, I have little respect for burgers. Too many eateries have frivolously used the term “gourmet burgers” for something far too mediocre, leaving me increasingly wary. In addition, too many anti fast food movies like Food Inc have unveiled that a meat patty might not purely be derived from a nice cut of meat but from the many random nooks and crevices of an animal carcass. So you really can’t blame me for thinking poorly of burgers.

Even amongst the Top 10 Burgers rated by IS Magazine, not all of them make the cut in my book. In fact, one of the more impressionable burgers I have had to date, The Foo Works from Foo House Cafe & Bar, is sadly missing from the list.

The big question today however, is whether or not &Made’s burgers make the cut.

Housing approximately 40 pax with the dining concept of gourmet burgers in a casual setting, &Made prides itself in creating ingredients and fillings for its burgers from scratch, which explains the origin of the eatery name.

The food menu is simple enough, compacted into a single sheet of paper for easy reference.

I had The Lamb ($25++), a burger that is made from a Lamb spiced patty, Fresh coriander, lime pickled sauce with curried raisins & onion jam. This burger fumbled on many aspects. There was just way too many flavours going on at the same time that left my palate confused. I felt that the curry didn’t go well with the caramelized onions and deconstructing the burger didn’t help much either, as some elements such as the lime picked sauce was far too sour and left me cringing.

I was sadly mistaken thinking that the Truffle fries (add $3 for upgrade from normal fries) would be a respite from the disappointing burger. The fries were overfried, soggy and tasted stale.

&Made categorizes Shakes and Smoothies under 1 section but as best explained by reluctantwwfoodie.com, there’s some differences between the 2.

“A smoothie is typically made with fruit – frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, etc. It’s not a dairy affair. It’s a fruit party. A shake (“milkshake” being the source of the word), on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made with ice cream, milk or both. The thickness of either does not change the name; as long as you can suck it up through a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.”

Given the 1 mouthful I tried, I couldn’t tell if the Banana & Honey ($9++) served here was a smoothie or a milkshake but I wouldn’t put much extra thought into it, since a return purchase is unlikely. The drink was just too thin and not rich enough for my liking.

Sticking to The “B” Burger ($19++) is a far better choice. It’s less fancy than some of the other burgers on the menu but what you get is a respectable and moist dry aged beef burger with onion confit, caper garlic sauce & Comte Cheese.

Most other food blogs have glowing reviews of &Made so I guess I’m pretty much alone on this one, as overrated and overhyped pretty much sums up my impression of &Made.

&Made

9 Scotts Road, #01-04/05/06 Pacific Plaza

Tel: +65 6732 9808





Bistro Du Vin II – 2nd Time’s the Charm

12 05 2011

One of Les Amis’s staff came across my previous lunch post on Bistro Du Vin, and left a comment saying that they would  look into the aspects of the set lunch I felt could be improved upon. This definitely sets the gold standard for customer service; addressing customer’s feedback outside of their restaurant setting. And it is restaurants like this that deserves a revisit should the 1st visit prove unsatisfactory or have fallen short of expectations.

I like the setting of Bistro Du Vin. It exudes a Parisian feel that is uncharacteristic of Singapore. Well-heeled tai tais were scarce today, with the crowd consisting mainly of middle-aged women in their casual tank tops. After all, this isn’t fine dining but traditional french fare, where sharing of foods is to be encouraged rather than frowned upon. As usual, service was attentive and the staff seemed rather happy going about their business.

The complimentary bread came toasty and warm and stood well with me but my bread-discerning friend C commented that the pores of the bread wasn’t large and airy enough. But it’s free bread so 免费多吃!

The 3-Course Set Lunches are priced at $30++, though do expect to pay closer to $40++ if you intend to choose some of the more popular course options.

The Salmon Trout Gravadlax with Dill, Citrus & Radish was just a fancy name for smoked salmon. Not as salty as pre-packed supermarket versions and so, there wasn’t any problems eating it straight up.

French Garlic Sausage & Celeraic Remoulade on Toast. 

Pan-Fried Foie Gras with Prune Compote (supplement of $6). It came as a really large slab, probably the largest I have come across in any set lunch. However, it was throughly drenched in oil, similar in fashion as my previous visit. The problem with the residual oil is that it sticks to the throat which is really irritating. I also felt that the searing could have been executed better. Personally, I think that Ember’s Mirin Foie Gras is the benchmark to beat right now, and rumour has it that Gunther’s Candied Almond Foie Gras ($40) is something to watch out for as well, but at $40 (when Gunther’s set lunch is $38), it’s quite a hard pill to swallow.

Pan-Fried Red Snapper with Lentils Vinaigrette. I have had quite a few bad experiences with Red Snapper as unlike Cod , it’s a pretty lean fish and so, there’s a lot of room for error, especially if the flesh isn’t seasoned well or overcooked. But the Red Snapper here deserves commendation. The fish is fresh and the fish skin is fried to a nice crisp.

Braised Pork Belly with Lingot Bean Stew. I liked the succulent belly pork with its hearty bean and carrot stew. Normally, I would suggest sharing a pot of pork belly but surprisingly, it wasn’t cloying as I had expected it to be and I could have easily polished it off on my own.

French Duck Leg Confit served with Croucroute (supplement of $3, but chef waived it because he deemed the size of the duck leg smaller than usual. A pleasant surprise when the bill came). The duck confit was well done, with the meat left juicy and moist.

Guinea Fowl Confit served with Choucroute. While it looks similar to the duck confit, I much prefer the duck. Guinea Fowl tastes much like chicken, though with a drier and less fatty texture which I find less delectable.

Profiteroles (supplement of $3) are definitely crowd pleasers. I find the ones here adequate, though a notch down from the ones at Au Petit Salut.

The Lemon Meringue Tart was a little too sour for my palate and the tart base could definitely be improved upon.

The Banana Crumble with Coconut Ice Cream is an interesting dessert. The caramelized bananas being a suitable companion to the coconut ice cream.

Creme Brulee was pretty average.

I had a much more enjoyable meal compared to my first visit. Hopefully the 3rd one proves even more so.

Bon Appetit!

BISTRO DU VIN

1 SCOTTS ROAD, #02-12 SHAW CENTRE

TEL: +65 6733 7763





Culinary Workshop @ Din Tai Fung Paragon

8 05 2011

*This workshop was sponsored by Dai Tai Fung

Originating in Taiwan originally, Din Tai Fung has since expanded around the world and was awarded a Michelin 1 Star in Hong Kong’s 2010 Michelin Guide. It’s secret to success…no doubt their renowned Xiao Long Baos.

The Din Tai Fung branches found in Singapore is franchised by the Breadtalk Group (who is also responsible for franchising Carl’s Junior and Ramenplay, in addition to owning Toastbox, Bread Society and Food Republic), and the chefs here are apparently required to undergo a 9-month vigorous training program in Taiwan to ensure that standards of the franchisees remain on par with the Taiwan and Hong Kong branches.

With regards to their Xiao Long Baos, strict guidelines have been set such that the xiao long bao skins must be within 5.8g to 6.2g and there must be 18 folds on each xiao long bao.

We were first given a demonstration with explanation on the ingredients used to make the Xiao Long Baos and how to fold the 18 folds.

After the mass demonstration, it was time for a hands-on! Each table of 4 participants were allocated with a personal Xiao Long Bao instructor to guide us in making the highly elusive 18 folds. I failed miserably 😦

After which, we were treated to high tea, a 10-course one at that!

Cucumber wrapped in Pork Belly in Chili Oil.

The Caucasian lady sitting on my table mentioned that this was her son’s favourite dish at Din Tai Fung. It’s not difficult to see why with the generous stuffing of springy shrimps in this dim sum inspired Shrimp Pancake.

Din Tai Fung is also famous for their Ginseng Chicken Soup which packs some umami flavour though I still think that it lacks the appeal of a home-made soup showered with motherly love.

Xiao Long Baos here are definitely competent but there are competitors around whom I actually prefer. They are Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant and Hand in Hand Beijing Restaurant, both located along Jalan Besar.

The Black Truffle Xiao Long Bao is only available at 2 Din Tai Fung outlets in Singapore (Paragon and 1 other outlet which I can’t recall now). I’m not sure if something is wrong with me but truffles don’t appeal to me much, so I’d much prefer the original Pork Xiao Long Baos which doesn’t come with such an earthly taste. On the other hand, the Caucasian women sitting next to me were deeply enamoured by the robust flavours bursting from the truffle xlb. To each his own I guess.

Pea Shoots stir fried with Sunflower Oil.

Dan Dan Noodles.

Snow Fungus with Red Dates and Papaya.

This is the first culinary workshop I have attended and I have to say it’s really good fun.

On a side note, Din Tai Fung will also be flying in Red Bean Rice Dumplings from Taiwan in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival. It will be sold at $4 per dumpling from 9 May to 6th June 2011, and DBS/POSB Card holders will enjoy a complimentary dumpling with minimum spending of $50. 

A very special thanks to Din Tai Fung for the invitation.

Bon Appetit!

DIN TAI FUNG

290 ORCHARD ROAD, #B1-03 THE PARAGON

TEL: +65 6836 8336





Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Prime Rib Dinner with an OMG Freaking Awesome Creme Brulee!

28 03 2011

Before it shifted over to Mandarin Gallery, Lawry’s used to be housed within Paragon. Back then, I was throughly intrigued by its tasteful decor, which resonated a sense of class and elegance. Of course, these  same vibes do emanate from the new outlet as well. Without so much as a glance at the menu, one would still know that this was a place patronised exclusively by the upper echelons of society…and occasionally by foodies with 1-for-1 main course vouchers here to celebrate a birthday.

Contrary to popular belief, Lawry’s isn’t that unaffordable, especially so during lunch where there’s a 1-for-1 main course promotion going on for DBS cardholders (so you can possibly do lunch here at less than $30) and high tea where there’s a $15/pax high tea set which includes one sweet and savoury course each in addition to coffee or teas (there’s a pretty good tea selection).

Today being my virgin visit to Lawry’s, the signature Roast Prime Rib was in order. Coming in a variety of cuts catering to individual appetites, the smallest cut (for dinner)  would be the California Cut ($62.90++), followed by the English Cut ($72.90++), the Lawry’s Cut ($82.90++), the “Diamond Jim Brandy” Cut ($106.90++) and lastly, a behemoth Beef Bowl Cut ($154.90++). If I’m not mistaken, there’s a smaller cut that’s available during lunch called the Singapore Cut.

C and myself both went for the Lawry’s Cut and I’d say that I severely overestimated my appetite once again, which has been a major issue ever since I stopped exercising regularly 3 years ago. The Prime Rib Dinner is inclusive of the Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad, Yorkshire Pudding and Idaho Mashed Potatoes with an option to make it a set dinner which we did. The add-on includes a glass of wine, dessert and coffee/tea at an additional $20 odd.

We were served with a decent tray of complimentary bread, of which I especially enjoyed the white bread which was infused with cheese.

I guess it’s just theatrics that the waitress came over and tossed our salad in a silver spinning bowl but the salad turned out great nonetheless! Love their croutons.

Not sure where I read it from but I think the reason why Lawry’s rib roast is so tender and juicy is because they age their meats. This allows some time for the enzymes within the meat to start breaking down the protein fibres which makes for a more tender texture. Like I said earlier, do opt for a smaller cut like the English or California Cut if you are getting a set dinner. Uncommon in Singapore, this is actually the first time I’m having Yorkshire Pudding, though I think it’s nothing more than a fried batter of flour, eggs and milk and so resembles a thinner, crispier French Toast. The mash was decent as well, going well with the thick brown gravy.

For desserts, the English Trifle was unspectacular, tasting much like a really soft Strawberry sponge cake. It wasn’t not bad, but just felt a little cheap coming from a supposed chichi restaurant. Because it was C’s birthday, we were given an additional English Trifle on the house and had pictures taken by the staff as well, which they printed out and handed to us at the end of the meal. A very nice touch there.

On the other hand, I had the most OMG freaking awesome Creme Brulee ever in my life! The type where the consistency is just right (sadly I have seen too many a creme brulee which reminds me more of a chawanmushi), with the sweetness held in check by the berries. It’s the only time I was left yearning for more after devouring the entire dessert myself.

For tea, I selected the Pink Rose Bud. I’m a flower tea person 🙂

Ended the meal with some luscious Hazelnut Chocolates. I’m a happy man.

I really have to commend on the level of service here, where apart from treating us like royalty throughout the meal, managed to do so in a sincere and authentic fashion. Definitely one of my best experiences ever, sans the overeating.

Bon Appetit!

 

LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB

333A ORCHARD ROAD, #04-01/31 MANDARIN GALLERY

TEL: +65 6836 3333





Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge – Royal Feasting without the Princely Sum

9 01 2011

The life of a Tai Tai really rocks. I can just imagine myself waking up at 10am, with no work commitments apart from personal financial investments, having my nails and hair done after a yoga or gym session, then driving down to town for a facial and spa, followed by High Tea with my fellow Tai Tais at Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge, while waiting for Hubby to finish work and bring me out for an extravagant dinner. I just can’t think of any better way to spend the day…

Sadly I’m no tai tai, so I guess I will just have to make do with being that Hubby who slogs at work all day while my tai tai wife squanders away all my hard earned money…

At the risk of sounding gay, I have to confess that I did a basic manicure recently while waiting for some friends as they did theirs. Of course, I didn’t colour my nails, just the basic filing and varnishing and it felt oddly liberating! I totally couldn’t take my eyes off my shiny nails for the whole day (or was it weeks?)! If there are any guys reading this post, don’t be too quick to judge. Seriously, go for a manicure yourself and then come back and chastise me if you feel I’m talking nonsense. There are really some nail care activities that are difficult to accomplish at home such as trimming off the excess skin btw the nails and the flesh. Other than that, I think there’s also the allure of being pampered, even if it’s for the most trivial of activities…


My first encounter with Royal Copenhagen was in Sydney, a shop selling homemade ice cream but apparently there’s no affiliation with the one found here in Singapore. I was astounded to discover that the main branches in Denmark (where Royal Copenhagen originates) are actually porcelain shops integrated with a cafe. So, it’s no surprise that Taka’s Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge utilizes porcelain plates for their dishes and desserts, and customers can even buy these porcelain pieces home should they catch their fancy.

Most of the awards won by Royal Copenhagen comes from Women’s Weekly which isn’t much of a surprise, considering such Tea Lounges are primarily meant for tai tais.

Even on a weekday afternoon, friends K, CJ and myself were almost denied of a seat, though the crowd thinned as it approached evening. Having come from a heavy brunch, we decided to share Her Majesty Tea Set  ($29.90), comprising of 2 Mini-open Face House Sandwich, 2 Pieces of Homemade Scones, 1 Slice of Cake, 1 Slice of Homemade Baked Quiche, and 2 Cups of Tea.

For the Open Face Sandwiches, we got the Prawns topped with Tobiko and Tuna topped with Caviar. Nothing special, it actually kind of reminds me of what you would get in the appetizer dish in an airplane meal.

Although I’m not a Green Tea fan, I hid any misgivings I had and ordered the Green Tea Tiramisu, which K had his eye on since stepping into the shop. It turned out surprisingly better than expected though it still has lots of room for improvement. The Mascarpone was thick and creamy, but the moistness of the cake layers was inconsistent.

If you like pies, you would definitely like the concept of a Quiche. Basically an open face pie, meaning there’s no pastry shell covering the fillings, it’s somewhat like a hybrid pizza pie and it’s French so I guess its kind of sexy.

The Homemade Scones was definitely our favourite dish for the day. Leonardo da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Eaten together with Strawberry Jam which I suspect to be homemade as well, whipped cream and butter, the sophistication lies in Royal Copenhagen’s ability to transform a commonly eaten simple Scone to a remarkable tea time snack. In addition, the jam was so good we asked for seconds at no extra charge!

Instead of having the plain old tea, we requested to change our 2 cups of tea to the Fruit Tea of the Month which was mildly fragrant.

We also order a pot of Flora Tea($8.90). I preferred this to the Fruit Tea because it had a more distinct scent. I would definitely recommend this.

With a strong signal of wireleess@sg being detected by my laptop, I really wouldn’t mind just dropping by after school for some light reading and tea.

Bon Appetit!

ROYAL COPENHAGEN TEA LOUNGE

391 ORCHARD ROAD, #02-391A NGEE ANN CITY TOWER A

TEL: +65 6735 6833





Hua Ting – Dim Sum Brunch

7 01 2011

One of my most favourite dimsum places in Singapore has to be Hua Ting, a Chinese Restaurant with an illustrious background situated in Orchard Hotel. It also does help that my parents subscribed to the Millenium Group of Hotel’s privilege card aka ala carte card, which gives a 50% discount to participating hotel restaurants when dining in 2 pax, 33% off when dining in 3 pax, 25% off for 4 pax and 20% off thereafter. Participating hotels under the Millenium Group include Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Copthorne King’s Hotel, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, M Hotel and Orchard Hotel. I think it’s a pretty good card to subscribe to as you get 1 night’s stay in any of these hotels for the year and a stack of vouchers to use for these hotels, in addition to the dining benefits. If I’m not wrong, it costs around $500 odd for a year’s subscription.

With this discount card in hand, dim sum lunches over at Hua Ting has always been rather affordable affairs, and I would normally spend in the range of between $15-$20 when I go in 4 pax. Just imagine what the price would be if I had just gone in 2 pax, though there would be the inherent disincentive of being unable to order a wider variety of dim sum.

One good thing about Hua Ting is that they price their dim sum by individual piece so you can opt for 4 pieces of dim sum in a basket which conventionally comes in 3 pieces. I shall keep this post short and sweet, focusing only on the more delectable items.

I really liked the Har Kows here, the skin isn’t too thick. The prawns are fresh and succulent.

CJ enjoyed the Char Siew Buns the most of all the dishes today. I have to admit it’s pretty good. The bun is airy and the char siew is a nice mix of sweet and savoury.

The Deep Fried Yam Pastries with Minced Pork and Prawn was fair.

Deep Fried Bean Skin Roll with Prawns was a tad dry, nothing special.

Deep Fried Prawn and Mango Rolls was not uncommon either.

Steamed Carrot Cake with Conpoy was pretty good. I preferred this over the Pan-fried version.

Steamed Cheong Fan with Sliced Fish is pretty special since the filling is usually Char Siew, You Tiao or Prawns. I thought this was very well executed, the cheong fan having the texture of smooth pig fats and sliced fish going well with the light sauce.

Steamed Siew Mai with Pig Liver, just a minor tweak to the steamed Siew Mai though I didn’t think the liver added any value to the Siew Mai.

Steamed Siew Mai with Fresh Scallop was great. Lots of crunchy prawn fillings and a nice umami flavour. I find Hua Ting really does well in delivering it’s dim sum staples.

Steamed Chicken with Dried Fish Belly. Wasn’t taken by the steamed chicken but I liked how the sauce complemented the springy fish maw.

Pan Fried Carrot Cake with Conpoy

Steamed Custard Buns were really good. I seldom order this during dim sum brunches but this has definitely made me a convert. Another dish that has a healthy balance of sweet and savoury with a strong hint of salted egg yolk. Really really yummy…

Traditional “Lo Mai Kai” wrapped in Lotus Leaf was unsatisfactory. The rice was too dry and tough.

Hua Ting has revamped its dim sum menu since my last visit and though I’m missing some of the “old” dishes that are unavailable now such as the Char Siew Sou and the Steamed Mushroom stuffed with Scallop, Hua Ting still does a great job with the dim sum essentials, (essentially anything that is steamed with prawn).

Bon Appetit!

HUA TING

442 ORCHARD ROAD, ORCHARD HOTEL

TEL: +65 6739 6666





Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant @ Goodwood Park Hotel – Affordable Lunch Bento Sets!

29 12 2010

Barely a month ago, I patronised Aoki in what I felt was one of my most memorable meals this year. Rival Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant lies a 5 minute stroll away, and I was hoping that I would get a meal there comparable to the one I had at Aoki.

Dinner at Tatsuya doesn’t come cheap. A pair of ala-carte Tuna Belly Sushi will set you back by $30. Even the most basic of sushi like the Salmon or Tuna Sushi costs an exceeding $10 per pair.

Lucky for budget conscious students like me, the set lunches here are a different story and a viable option within my spending threshold.

News of the affordable lunch bento sets at Tatsuya seems to have gotten around and it proves to be a popular lunch spot for the well informed. Reservations are highly recommended and if you want to get the full blown Japanese dining experience, request for a counter seat so you can marvel at the culinary skills of the Chefs as they artfully craft their sushi masterpieces.

While Tatsuya is considered a fine-dining Japanese Restaurant, the layout isn’t exactly posh. The aisle for the counter seats are rather cramped and only allows one person to walk through at a time but if claustrophobia is an issue, dining al fresco is also available though there isn’t much of a view. Unlike Aoki where you get undisrupted viewing pleasure of the Chefs at work while sitting at the counter seats, the refrigerations units used to store the Sashimi here is quite a visual hindrance for those who are vertically-challenged.

My lunch kaki today was ex-JC classmate Shiwei. It’s weird that we only became closer after school’s out, I think food might have been a contributing factor. So there you go, no 1 perk of being a foodie; you get to rekindle friendships as you meet up for lunches!

Shiwei had the Sashimi Unagyu Bento($30.90), comprising of Chawanmushi, Sashimi(Salmon, Tuna & Yellowtail), Tempura, Unagi over Rice, Miso Soup and Fruits. Special mention goes to the smooth Yuzu Flavoured Chawanmushi, which held a mildly sweet citrus flavour. The Tempura was good too with a light crisp batter.

I had the Sushi, Yakizakana Bento($28.90), comprising of Chawanmushi, Potato Salad, Tamago, Assorted Sushi, Grilled Cod with Mentaiko, Miso Soup and Fruits. The Sushi was fresh and compact. I really hate it when my sushi starts falling apart after I grab it and dip it in Light Sauce but this problem was not evident here so I was quite pleased. I found the Grilled Cod pretty addictive, bearing a tasty smokey flavour made savoury by the Mentaiko.

Overall, Tatsuya serves a set lunch which is definitely worth visiting but personally, I rather top up a few more dollars for Aoki because the ambience is more elegant, the quality and variety of sashimi given in the set lunches are better and they include a trio of desserts within their set lunch as well.

Bon Appetit!

TATSUYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT

22 SCOTTS ROAD, GOODWOOD PARK HOTEL

TEL: +65 6887 4598








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