Pine Court - The flagship Chinese restaurant of Meritus Mandarin hotel and a name that used to be synonymous with quality Chinese food at a mind blowing price. However in recent years, due to a change in its chefs and other reasons, its standing in the culinary circle has pretty much dropped a notch. I can't say the same for the pricing though. I guess the crux of the matter here is, how does the food fare now? Hence the visit to Pine Court with my gf.
View from our table
Teacup & Teapot
The 35th floor is a long way up and it took us approximately 20 secs in the lift. Greeting us at the concierge of the decidedly posh looking walkway was a smartly suited lady who promptly showed us to our table, one which offered a wonderful view of the adjourning Orchard Road. I wasn't quite taken by the interior at first, with its squarish outline and high white brick ceilings. However, as the night grew on and the skies turned to black, its charm became obvious. The soothing glow of pinkish lights illuminated the place, complementing the custard warm tones by several overhanging oriental style lamps. A pretty sight at night it surely is.
I like it when I get complementary stuff. I mean, who doesn't? I couldn't quite make out what the appetiser was, but it sure was good. The sweetness from the lychee contrasted starkly with the saltiness of the other mystery ingredients. As they say, opposites attract. A small serving, but satisfying nevertheless.
Renowned for its Peking Duck, Pine Court's crepes are what sets them apart from the rest of the competition. Green in colour with an ever so slight taste of mint, it is thicker than usual and pan fried till the outsides are slightly charred, very much like roti prata. This has the effect of making for a more filling but less nausea inducing crepe. I did find the crepes a little too thick though but the faint mint taste was rather refreshing. Interestingly, everything from the skin to the meat is wrapped together with the crepes, unlike the traditional ones whereby only the skin is wrapped and the meat is used to cook other dishes. The only grouse I had with the meat was that it tended towards the dry side and with the crepe dry as well, it became a little hard to swallow after a while.
Braised homemade Beancurd served with Bacon and Hongshimeji Mushrooms
The beancurd was quite a disappointment. Rough both on the outside and inside, it wasn't exactly what I had been expecting. Sure, the roughness goes to show that its homemade, but only how badly made. If Hai Tien Lo or Li Bai can do it, I don't see any reason why Pine Court, with all its culinary expertise, can't. The gravy with the bacon and Hongshimeji mushrooms was quite good though. Not too starchy, tasty and full of bite. If there's anything that can save this dish, its the gravy.
Simmered Seafood with scrambled Egg White
I've been eating this dish very frequently of late and I'm still not tired of it. Pine Court's rendition is all egg white with no milky smoothness to it, which departs slightly from the usual milky smooth ones, like the kick ass version fromPrima. All in all, a nice dish which is light on the palate yet delivers on the flavours.
Pan Fried Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin Steak in Chef's secret recipe
Check out the marbling
A special offering from Pine Court for a limited time only, the pan fried Kurobuta pork was simply out of this world. It is the equivalent of the kobe or wagyu in the pork hierarchy. Evenly marbled and pan fried with a touch of rawness in the center, the succulent and tender meat was every pork lovers dream come true. This is definitely a must try! Watch out for the price though.
Chilled Avocado Cream and Sea Coconut topped with Walnut Ice Cream
I detest Avocado and so it is only right I refrain from commenting on this dessert. But my gf had it and liked it. So take your chances there.
Chilled Purple Glutinous Rice with Orange Peel topped with Coconut Ice Cream
Interestingly named, but less than interesting when it arrived. Its just another fancy name for pulot hitam with a side scoop of Coconut ice cream. Gee. No comments on this dessert translates to average tasting.
I must admit that I'm rather impressed by the quality of food, given that I've heard so many negative comments about Pine Court. Pricing wise is comparable to most of the top hotel restaurants, standing just shy of $150 for 2 pax. In all honesty, none of the food really stood out, save for the Kurobuta pork and to a certain extent, the peking duck. Service was very good but can be rather inattentive at times, as evident by how long my tea pot stood empty. I would like to come back someday and dine in the privacy of a private room which is located just up a flight of stairs. There's the question of money though. Sponsors, anyone? ;)
Food:7.5/10 (8.5/10 for the Kurobuta pork)
Value for money:6.5/10
Address: 35th floor, Meritus Mandarin Singapore, 333 Orchard Road