Sunday, October 29, 2006

Menotti Part 2

Stopped by Menotti after our dinner at Zambuca for desserts as the 50% discount on all desserts after 10pm offer was still valid. Ordered the Musa, Soffiato and Diplomatica to share.


Musa (Bottom right of picture) – Pancake wrapped chocolate cream with banana flambé
Rating:6/10
I found the Musa’s pancake a little too chewy and tough. The chocolate was a little bitter, which was nice. However, I couldn’t detect any taste of banana. A nice dessert, but not nice enough to warrant high marks.

Soffiato(Bottom left of picture) – Warm dark chocolate cake with chocolate chip ice cream.
Rating:6.5/10
I like this dessert best as it has nice sweet chocolate embedded within a chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream. However I do have some grouses. Firstly, the embedded chocolate was supposed to be liquid and ooze out when I cut into the cake. Instead it looked pretty solidified. Secondly, the cake wasn’t warm at all. Talk about misrepresentation. I digress a little. The Soffiato tastes and looks exactly like the Chocolate Soufflé. I’m guessing that they are the same, just termed differently in different languages. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks!

Diplomatica (Top of picture) – Puff pastry and sponge cake layered with hazelnut custard and chocolate
Rating:5/10
Honestly, I feel that the Diplomatica is just plain gross. It tastes familiarly like Bonjela, the clear gel that is sold in pharmacies and used to treat mouth ulcers. If you like that taste, then by all means try it.

$10.45 for the 3 desserts is a steal, which will serve to motivate me to come back again and again for their after 10 special. They need to buck up ALOT on their service though. Though not unfriendly, the waiters need to learn a little on being pro active and attentive, especially with the 10% service charge being levied.

Zambuca



Met up with my good friends for dinner at Zambuca last night. Managed by Michelangelo’s, it is located on the third floor of Pan Pacific Hotel. I made a reservation for 2015hrs and was allocated a circular table with nice comfy sofa seats. I instantly look a liking to the place. The lighting was soft and the unobtrusive wait staff spoke in hushed tones, which made for a very romantic ambience. (A pity about the company =P)

My friends had the Linguine Tandoor – Linguine with specially marinated Tandoori chicken and spinach in rose sauce and the Snapper Lombata – Pan fried baby snapper loin with deep fried soft shell crab and grilled caviar crusted langoustine served in a pool of mirin and wasabi broth, while I went for the Porcini Risotto – Italian Arborio rice sautéed with porcini and button mushrooms, deglazed with Chardonnay and cream. We shared a side of Bruschetta done the traditional way – Basil, Tomatoes and Olive Oil.

The Bruschetta was nicely toasted with the tomatoes finely diced and not too overpowering. Together with the olive oil, it was light on the taste buds and made for a good appetizer. I understand that Bruschetta is supposed to be made with Tuscan bread, however I honestly can’t really taste the difference. My Porcini Risotto was great, not too heavy on the cream yet packing in the flavours. The Risotto’s texture was rich and done just right. I had a bite of my friend’s Linguine Tandoor and found it pretty appetising although I do not fancy rose sauce very much. But having said that, I doubt I’ll ever be ordering that for my personal consumption. My friend liked it very much though and he can be quite demanding when it comes to food, so I guess it means something. I also had a go at the baby snapper, which was nicely pan-fried with a lingering taste of butter. My other friend liked it as well.

Bill came up to about $160 for 3 pax - $24+++ went to the 3 glasses of pretty normal fruit punch that we ordered. Bottled water, be it sparkling or still, is complementary. (In our case at least) Price isn’t too expensive considering that Zambuca is pretty upscale and it does deliver on the quality. A romantic place to bring your significant other for that special occasion or just a normal dinner. Service is impeccable as well.



The exterior



The interior



Wine storage



The menu



The Bruschetta



Linguine Tandoor



Porcini Risotto



Snapper Lombata



The bill



Calling card




Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10
Service:8/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.75/10

Address: Pan Pacific Level 3.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Min Jiang @ One North



Last night's dinner was an extravagant affair, to me at least. My gf and I paid a visit to the newly opened(a few months old) Min Jiang @ One North, a visit long overdue. Nestled in the posh enclave of Rochester Park, Min Jiang is housed in a colonial bungalow at the end of Rochester Park. For those who didn't know, Min Jiang actually has 2 branches, with the main one situated at Goodwood Park Hotel. However, the main branch serves fine Cantonese cuisine, whereas the branch at Rochester specialises in Sichuan cuisine, with its Peking duck being the most noteworthy. Opting for black chic over traditional red unlike most Chinese restaurants, Min Jiang @ One North oozes solemn appeal and pure sophistication.

I had made a reservation for 1900hrs but we got there a little early and we were shown to our table in the tiny indoor area. (There was this nice big dining room on the 2nd floor but I believe its only for large groups)The interior replicated a nobleman's dining hall from the ancient China era. Now down to the food. We had half a Legendary Peking Duck(which I preordered the day before because I couldn't fathom waiting 45mins whilst the chef slow roasted my duck), the chef's Appetizer Platter, Spare Ribs in Lemon Grass Infused Honey Sauce, the famous Lobster Noodles, the famous Durian Pudding with Mango Spring Roll and Sichuan Pancake with Vanilla Ice Cream.

First up was the Chef's appetizer platter, consisting of Crispy Diced Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorn, Wok Tossed Lobster Medallion Crusted in Spicy Egg Yolk Crumb, Cripsy Eel coated with Vinegar Sauce and Sesame Seeds and Deep Fried Scallops stuffed with Minced Shrimps in Thai Sauce. The Crispy Diced Chicken was pretty normal and tasted a little like Twisties (Chicken Flavour). But to give it credit, it was nicely battered and fried. The Lobster Medallion was, if I may say, truly wonderful. The egg yolk provided a slightly salty taste which blended well with the sweetness from the lobster. I would have liked more of this, but unfortunately its madly expensive!

I've always shunned from eels, but this eel had me wanting for more. It was crunchy, a little sweet with no traces of that eel taste which I absolutely abhor. A very nice snack! The Deep Fried Scallops were nicely done, though they didn't seem deep fried to me. The minced shrimps were embedded within the scallop and I liked the whole package. Pity about the slightly overpowering Thai sauce though.

Next up was of course the Peking Duck. I was terribly excited by this dish as I had been having cravings for it the last couple of weeks. The chef personally carved the duck up for us and recommended that we tried it with sugar and then with sweet sauce, cucumber, sliced leek and radish and lastly, with garlic paste. All 3 combinations were so good that I don't know where to begin. The crispy duck skin was carved from the neck and there were no fats whatsoever, leaving just the crackling skin which went extremely went with the sugar. This is the first time I'm eating the skin with sugar and I must say its really good. The second option with the cucumber, sliced leek and radish was just as good, with the paper thin crepes wrapped around. This time round, the skin had quite a substantial amount of meat attached to it, unlike the ducks at most places. The third option was pretty appetising as well, with the mild garlic taste complementing with the crepe and the delicious duck. I honestly never knew there were so many ways to eat Peking Duck!

We were recommended the Spicy Minced Duck with Lettuce Wrap for the remainder of our duck and we duly complied. It was commendable, though not entirely fantastic. The whole dish tasted like Char Siew wrapped in lettuce, which I do like, but nothing out of the blue or mind blowing.

The Spare Ribs in Lemon Grass Infused Honey Sauce was plain terrible. The lemon grass taste was way too strong and left me and my gf revolting at the taste of it. The Spare Ribs were also a little too tough for my liking. The Lobster Noodles which came shortly after was much better. The noodle was springy, but a little lacklustre as compared to the one I had at Li Bai. Although one whole lobster was given, it was pretty small in size. However, taste wise, it would be hard to beat. The lobster was very fresh and perfectly done. Not undercooked nor overcooked.

I eagerly awaited the desserts to round up the whole meal. The Sichuan Pancake with Vanilla Ice Cream was pretty unique in the sense that unlike most restaurants, its pancake is wafer thin and doesn't have the secondary layer of smooth pastry. So its basically just the crust and the red bean filling in it. Some might like it, some might not. I personally like the ones with the secondary layer. However, Min Jiang's rendition is quite good also. The Durian Pudding has always been a legend in Min Jiang and rightly so. The pudding is pure smoothness and creamy with pulps of D24 durian. Once you start, you can't stop! I was crazy enough to want to order a few more bowls of it, but (un)fortunately, my gf kept me in check. The accompanying Mango Spring Roll tasted weird though. The mango was hot and sour, presumably because they chose to use unripe mangoes.

The very hearty meal for 2 pax cost about $191/- which is expensive. But food quality is evident and I'll put Min Jiang @ One North on the highly recommended list if you have spare cash to burn. Service generally was faultless except for a small blip where I had to ask the waiter to refill my ice water. Ambience is also tops here which makes it a very ideal place to bring your date.



The map of Rochester Park



Back door of Min Jiang facing ACJC



Front entrance



Interior part 1



Interior part 2



The menu



Chef's Appetizer Platter



The Sichuan chef with the lovely Peking Duck



No fats under the Peking Duck skin



Peking Duck skin with sugar



Other variants of the Peking Duck



Spicy Minced Duck with Lettuce Wrap



The oven that was used to roast the Peking duck



Spare Ribs in Lemon Grass Infused Honey Sauce



Lobster Noodles



Sichuan Pancake with Vanilla Ice Cream



The thin crust of the pancake



Durian Pudding with Mango Spring Roll



Close up of the lovely Durian Pudding



The bill



Calling card




Final Verdict:
Ambience:8.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:8/10 (8.5/10 for the Lobster Medallion Crusted in Egg Yolk, 8.5/10 for the Peking Duck and 9/10 for the Durian Pudding)
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.625/10

Address: 5 Rochester Park. Valet parking available for Min Jiang guests @ $6/entry. Small ERP carpark available at the beginning of Rochester Park as well. Reservations highly recommended.

ps: Sorry for the lengthy post, but a short post just wouldn't do this place justice.

Menotti



After our dinner at The Tent, a short and leisurely walk saw us at Menotti @ Raffles City for some desserts. Actually we were drawn by the fact that the place was offering 50% off on all its desserts after 10pm.

Menotti was nicely furnished, apparently with casual chic in mind. However, I did find the place a little squeezy and noisy because it was quite packed and the walls formed a n arc and of course the pretty low ceiling. Other than that, the use of mirrors was a nice touch to try to make the place look bigger.



The interior




The menu

There were only 7 desserts left so we ordered 6 of them to share.



Strudel - Apple pie with golden raisins, pine kernels and vanilla ice cream

Rating:5.5/10

The Strudel came with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream and was stuffed with apple and some other stuff which I didn't quite make out. The ice cream was smooth, but I've tried better. The Strudel itself was way too sour with the crust being too thick.



Cassata Siciliana - Smooth Ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and citrus fruits enrobed in pistachio marzipan

Rating:6/10

The Cassata Siciliana was pretty normal, nothing to shout about(Not that I've tried it before). The Marzipan that came with it tasted like sweet chewing gum that you could swallow.



Cannoli - Tube shaped chocolate pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese, citrus fruits and pistachio nuts

Rating:6/10

This one is nothing fantastic either and it tastes familiarly like those little biscuits with lemon filling in between which I used to eat when I was a kid.



Tiramisu - Mascarpone cheese cake with ladyfinger biscuits, coffee and cocoa

Rating:6.5/10

I personally don't really like Tiramisu because it has this weird cream taste that I dislike. However this one was actually not that bad. The cake was soft and rather pleasing.



Crostata - fresh exotic fruit tart

Rating:6/10

I didn't find this too fanciful and only tried the bottom crust which I feel was ok. Didn't get to try the Raspberries(?) on the top though.



Duomo - Mascarpone & spicy cream with olive oil sugar dough.

Rating:7/10

This is the best dessert by far and rightly so. The chocolate within oozes out and the custard like top(taste and appearance) has a slight tinge of cinnamon, which literally spices things up. The base seems to be of a biscuit type which is commonly found at the bottom of cheese cakes. A nice little package all in all.



An overview


Total bill for dessert came to a grand total of $20.20, which is a steal really. However, I can't really find any good reason to return in the absence of the 50% discount. Even $5.50 for the exquisite Duomo just doesn't quite cut it.

The Tent



It was the second outing for the forum people and this time round we tried The Tent @ Clark Quay, which supposedly served Mongolian food steamboat buffet style. Having never tried Mongolian food, I was pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing. After some wrong turns and confusing streets, we finally made it there at about 1945hrs. First looks, the whole place didn't look Mongolian in any way but the setting was pretty nice I must say. And there weren't many people around when we arrived, which was a good thing. (People started filling in at about 8+ though)

How this place works is this. You choose your ingredients(rice, meat, prawns, vegetables etc) and toss them into a big bowl and you place your sauces(Teriyaki, BBQ, green curry etc) into a small bowl, after which you give them to the chef together with a metal token with your table number on it and he will cook your food for you and have it served to your table. In case you are clueless as to how to choose your sauces from the 40 or so varieties available, there are some 20 recipes that the chefs have come up with to simplify things.

Food wise, I can't really judge because they all pretty much tasted the same(the ones I had) and it really depended more on what sauces you add, in what quantity etc. Well all in all, it cost us about $151 for 5 pax. Honestly speaking, it was reminiscent of Seoul Garden, albeit a better but more expensive eatery. The "experience" is also slightly different from what you would get outside. However having said that, I don't think I'll be coming back anytime soon. $26+++/pax is just too much to pay for food that is a mix and match of everything. Oh and not forgetting the oil smell left on my shirt.



The interior



The cooking area



The drinks and ala carte menu



My first attempt



My second attempt



My third attempt



The bill



Calling card




Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:/10 (Can't judge this time round)
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:6.33/10 (Food is not included)

Address: Blk 3D Clarke Quay. #01-02.