Sunday, May 27, 2007

Eden Cafe



Cosmopolitan club street has a new entrant - Eden Cafe, which opened its doors to a soft launch only last Wednesday. New as the cafe may be, the man at the helm, Clement Ronald, is certainly no stranger to the culinary scene, having appeared in many television and magazines write ups in the past year due to his unique blend of cooking which involves plants, dubbed "floral cooking". He used to preside over the kitchen at Helios Cafe at Marina Square, but unfortunately that space is available only for private functions now.





Occupying a small unit just opposite liberty insurance, Eden Cafe threatens to be overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbours like Senso, Indochine, Spizza, Jerry's, just to name a few. The interior is tiny (I'm guessing about 20pax) and simplistic, opting for a more laid back setting with soft music in the background.



Jumbo prawns wrapped in Bacon

Prawns wrapped in bacons are always nice. Ideally the saltiness from the not too fatty bacon should complement the raw sweetness of the prawns. However it didn't happen in this case. The prawns were smaller than I had expected and the bacon wasn't grilled throughly enough, resulting in a softer than I would have liked texture. But overall still a rather decent dish, especially with the freshness of the tomato salsa salad by the side.



Saffron Cream Sauce Salmon

I don't usually like salmon because they have this raw fishy taste which I detest. Not this one however. The salmon's meat was firm minus the fishy overtones and together with the buttery and flavourful home concocted gravy, made for a light yet pleasing dish. However I could detect some inconsistencies in the dish, with some parts of the salmon being a lot saltier than others. The whole portabello mushroom that came with it was good for lapping up the tasty gravy, just that it was a little too soft for my liking.




Red Wine Beef

I would have liked this dish quite a bit if it wasn't that raw. The meat slab was thick which probably explains the rawness in some areas. The red wine sauce had a nice sweet red wine taste (naturally!) without being too overpowering. There was garlic in it, but I couldn't quite make it out. The mashed potatos were great with the sauce by the way.

We had one other main, the Rosemary Chicken, which I unfortunately do not have a shot of because I stupidly deleted it by accident and data recovery doesn't seem to work. Well I have asked around and hopefully someone has it so that I can post it up if they are willing to send it to me. That aside, as the name suggests, the chicken was cooked with rosemary and lavender, which gave it a rather fruity/leafy slant. The chicken was rather tender and moist but certain parts could get quite strong on the rosemary taste, especially the outer layer, which I personally couldn't quite take



Crème Brûlée

According to Clement, the Crème Brûlées are made from real vanilla beans, not vanilla essence or extract like most other places. The little black dots within are proof of that. Clement personally handled the melting of the sugar atop and I must complement his technique as the layer of sugar was thin and evenly coagulated. The pudding was soft and wobbly and didn't come across as too sweet. Definitely one of the better Crème Brûlées that I've tasted.



Brandy Chocolate


Now this is one sinful dessert with rich and unadulterated chocolate. Nothing fancy, just pure milk chocolate with brandy. However I couldn't quite make out the brandy which was a bummer really. Definitely not for the health conscious!



Tiramisu

The Tiramisu was covered by a layer of rich chocolate, very different from others I've eaten. But that doesn't not necessarily mean that its better. I could barely taste the cake in it and overall it was very dense with quite a strong rum taste in certain areas. My guess is that the mixing wasn't done thoroughly enough.



Hibiscus Cheese Phyllo

Undoubtedly the star of the desserts (at least for me), the Hibiscus Cheese Phyllo (or filo if you so wish) came looking very much like an egg omelette. The filling looked like yam ice cream instead of cheese, which was really quite interesting. Texture and taste wise, it reminded me of a partially melted cheese flavoured ice cream with a slight fruity connotation. A delectable dish but one not one I would recommend to consume too much of as the cheese taste can be a little overwhelming after a while.



Total bill for 8 pax with drinks cost about $337, which is definitely not expensive given the quality and amount of food. Dinner is unhurried and pleasant with great service from Clement himself as well as the other wait staff. There is this little herb garden in which Clement grows his own flora for use in his dishes. Do ask to see it if you happen to dine at Eden's. How about an encore folks? Seedless grape chicken? ;)



Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10
Service:8.5/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.5/10

Address: 54 Club Street

Contact: 65361181

Website: www.edencafe.com.sg

Comments: Please remember to call to prebook your meals at least 2 days in advance. For the menu, please call to check.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Iggy's



Voted as one of the top restaurants in the world (60th) by the prestigious British magazine, Restaurant, Iggy's is the top ranked restaurant amongst the only 3 restaurants that made the list in Singapore, or South East Asia for that matter. Dining at Iggy's is by reservation only and there is no ala carte menu. Diners choose the number of courses they so wish to have from the set menu of the day. Word has it that this place is packed during dinners and reservations are quite difficult to get. For a restaurant to wear that kind of hat, the food should definitely be of a certain standard, shouldn't it?



Exterior & Interior

Located at the posh and exclusive Regent Hotel, it appears unassuming and rather boring from the outside, nothing to suggest its grandeur or exclusivity. Walk through the small passageway and be ushered into a tiny space (of almost claustrophobic proportions) which doubles up as a bar counter seating area and a small private enclave. (Un)fortunately, we got a table in the private area which was fine by us as it was really cosy, but a tad stifling if you ask me. The bar counter seats would have been better though, as you get to see your food being prepared by the chefs. No shot of the bar counter as there were just too many people seated at the bar and it would have been pretty obvious if I just stood there to take a photo.



Menu



Olive Bread & some Pumpkin Puree with Soy




Clockwise from left :Linguini with black truffle salsa, poultry jus and Parmesan, Vanilla panna cotta with candied tomatoes and basil ice cream, Prawn croquette with watercress and soy tarragon butter & Breaded Kurobuta pork Schnitzel with tarragon salad



Champagne jelly and sorbet with elderflower foam

I didn't taste enough of the above items (my friends ordered them) to give a fair review so I shall just leave you with the pictures.



Sakura ebi cappellini with konbu and home made scampi oil

Finally something that I ordered. I had to steal it off the more expensive set menu as the set that I was going for didn't offer it as one of the appetisers. The waiter was nice enough to allow it and I am grateful for that. Why so? Because this dish is one of Iggy's signature dish and I'm quite impressed by it to say the least. The cappellini was cooked to perfection with the right about of bite and the tiny but fresh sakura ebi, together with the scampi oil, provided the necessary saltiness and fragrance. Just a short introduction about sakura ebi. It is a tiny shrimp found exclusively in the waters of Suruga Bay in Japan, which explains its price. Overall an excellent dish, but I must say that it reminded me uncannily of maggi mee, albeit a finer version.



Home made Wagyu beef burger with white truffle sabayon

Wagyu beef and white truffle sabayon - now that combination is enough to make me dribble all over my shirt. Sadly, it didn't turn out the way I hoped it would. For one, the wagyu beef was minced up and made into a patty, which is a sheer waste for such an expensive beef. I honestly couldn't taste any difference between the wagyu patty and a normal beef patty. The white truffle sabayon didn't impress me much either, coming across as rather tasteless. The bread was nice and evenly toasted though.
Top marks goes to the side of thick cut fries though, which were nicely stacked up and a tad hard on the outside yet moist, steaming and smooth on the inside.
On a side note, the burger was really small and reminded me of a toy burger. Such was the size of it and its colour homogeneity.



Baked chocolate molten cake with Java vanilla ice cream

The chocolate cake was very spongy yet compact and came across as light on the palate. It could do with more molten chocolate in the core and a more concentrated one at that. I personally found the Java vanilla ice cream quite good as it had a tinge of the Java bean. Nice and smooth as well.




Bill

The lunch bill for 3 pax came up to about $157, which is ridiculously expensive for the portions of food that we ate. Food quality was definitely quite good, but I don't think it was good enough to deserve its ranking. Honestly we went to Iggy's hungry and left hungry. The free flow of Olive bread didn't help. But its an experience nevertheless, an experience I wouldn't want to relive, unless of course I'm insanely rich.



Final Verdict:

Ambience:8/10
Service:8/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:7.375/10

Address: Level 3, The Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road

Contact: 6732-2234

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pier Eleven



Waterfront dining is the rage nowadays, a concept made popular by Italian restaurant, Il Lido. Imagine a breathtaking view of the sea as the sun slowly sets in the horizon. As darkness falls, the stars and the shimmering sea play company. It definitely doesn't get anymore romantic than that. Pier Eleven is one of the latest restaurants to jump on the bandwagon to offer dining by the sea.
Hidden at the tip of Marina South in the Marina South Pier, an area synonymous with cheap steamboat buffets, one would hardly expect to find any form of fine dining.

Entrance

The restaurant honestly didn't look like much from the outside. It reminded me of normal cafe with translucent curtains at the front door acting as a veil against prying eyes. But as I stepped in, I was quite amazed by the transformation. The interior, though sparsely furnished, had a brightly lighted corner for art appreciation and funky wavy looking chairs that are not half as uncomfortable as they look. What impressed me most was the dim lighting and cosy corner tables, which my gf and I had the privilege to sit at (of course water side seats would have been better, but they were all taken up. Not to mention it was a little warm that evening, so air conditioning would have been preferred).

Interior

Menu & Ice Lychee Tea


Complimentary bread

Bread, bread and more bread. I didn't quite fancy the complimentary bread as they tasted pretty much like your run off the mill kind. On a positive note, the bread was warm and soft on the inside.


Chef's creation of Caesar Salad with Poached Egg, served warm

Looking like your ordinary Caesar salad with the exception of a poached egg atop, I really didn't expect too much out of it. Surprise surprise, it was actually quite good. The poached egg added a tinge of rawness to the slightly salty salad gravy (I suspect its watered down soya sauce) while the cheese slices gave it a much needed cohesion. Think of it as a catalyst to harmonise the flavours. The vegetables do need a little sprucing up though, appearing tired and a shade dull at times.


Garlic Prawn Soba

A chef's recommendation, this dish was clearly a winner in the making (for me at least). The larger than normal prawns were crunchy and carried a slightly grilled taste. Simply delicious. It helped that the chef was generous with the prawns. I didn't manage to try out the soba noodle as it was gone before I could try it. The dipping sauce tasted to me like a watered down version of Miso soup and it didn't quite make a difference. A stronger rendition might have done wonders.


Fillet Mignon with Portabello Mushroom & Shallot Red Wine Sauce

I am impressed with the steak. I guess that just about tells you how good it was. It certainly wasn't as good as Morton's, but definitely better than the one I had at Jaan and mind you, Jaan's rendition was really quite good (Okay there is really no basis for comparison as Jaan's is of a different cut. However, culinary skill wise, I'm more inclined towards Pier Eleven's). The meat was succulent and a little charred on the surface to give it that slightly burnt taste. Done just right. the meat thoroughly soaked in the shallot red wine sauce and exuded a certain sweetness without the noticeable taste of red wine. Not that I'm complaining though. The mushrooms were well, normal, as were the mashed potatos, which were grounded to a pulp.


Baked Chocolate with Vanilla Gelati

Served on a pretty looking flat glass dish with inscriptions on it, this dish was an art in itself. Beautifully presented, it really looked too dainty to be eaten. The chocolate cake was moist on the outside and molten on the inside. Oozing thick chocolate broke forth as the outer shell succumbed to the external pressure from our spoon. A worthy rival to Morton's I dare say. The only let down was the ice cream, which was nothing to shout about. One peeve though. How do you eat a cake with molten chocolate in it on a flat plate? I think common sense should prevail over aesthetics.


Bill


A lovely meal with friendly and great service to boot cost about $90 (before discount). Worth the money in my humble opinion, especially with the ambience you are getting and the quality of food. Sure portions are a tad small, but can be quite filling, as evident by my bursting waistline at the end of the meal. Do give this place a try, but remember to make reservations if you want to sit outside. As for me, I can see myself as a regular customer in the not too distant future.



Final Verdict:

Ambience:8.5/10
Service:8/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.625/10

Address: #02-07 Marina South Pier, 31 Marina Coastal Drive

Contact: 65326950

Operating Hours: 1130am - 10.30pm

Comments: Its best if you drive, as parking is plentiful. If you don't, you can take bus 402 from Marina South MRT

PS: Please pardon my grainy pictures as it was really quite dim where I was sitting. Its the best my lowly camera can manage.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sticky Rice



This would have been a perfectly normal writeup on Sticky Rice, a Thai food joint that has outlets in AMK hub and Serangoon Gardens, except that it has pretty much turned into a complain from dissatisfied customer post due to their inexcusable service as well as the banning of photography taking in the restaurant. For starters, one senior waiter shouted across the dining area that no photography was allowed when he saw me taking photographs. Wouldn't it have been better if he had walked up to me and told me in a quiet tone? After that incident, the other senior waiter put on a black face whilst waiting for us to make our orders. Ironically it was the temporary wait staff who exhibited better service.

Food wise, the Phad Thai was not too bad, but a little on the oily side, meaning that you have to consume it before it turns cold or else you will be left with a lump of almost unpalatable glass noodles. The pineapple fried rice was quite fragrant but came across as rather bland. Again, it was a tad too oily. For desserts we had the sticky rice mango and sticky rice durian. I guess I still have some getting use to because I simply couldn't stomach the warm durian and mango puree. Also, the durian was sour but the chef denied that it was spoilt. He was nice enough to waive it off the bill for us though.



Honestly speaking, a review with pictures is just a bunch of words that don't make sense, so please forgive me. To conclude, the food at Sticky Rice is actually decent, with reasonable pricing to boot, but the service is a total turn off. I'm not sure about the AMK hub branch, but if the Serangoon Gardens branch is anything to go by, I'm better off elsewhere.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:5/10 (6.5/10 for the temp wait staff)
Food:6/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:6.125/10

Address: 5 Kensington Park Road & Level 1 AMK Hub

Marutama Ramen



Tiny Singapore recently saw the opening of Central, a SOHO building sitting atop Clarke Quay MRT station. Boasting a cluster of Japanese dining outlets on the third level, it is probably the only mall in Singapore to house so many Japanese eateries under one roof. Marutama Ramen is one such eatery within the cluster and that was our choice for dinner that evening.



Interior



Menu



Deep Fried Garlic

Marutama's interior is quite small and can be rather uncomfortable at times due to the close proximity of the tables as well as the lack of open spaces. Seating capacity should hover around 30 pax or so and the decor is kept clean and simple. If you so happen to get a table with a window, you are in for a stressful session as the only thing that seperates you from the queuing customers outside is the window. Imagine people peering at you and your food. Not a nice feeling if you ask me.



Aka Ramen - Seven kinds of nuts soup base Ramen with Coriander

This soup base was supposedly of a limited nature aka while stocks last. It was a little spicy and tasted very strongly of coriander. Honestly, I couldn't make out the taste of any of the seven nuts and it was really salty, not to mention "sweet" from all the MSG in it. It was quite bad really. I had to down glass after glass of water just to get rid of the MSG induced thirst. That aside, the noodles were quite springy, but tasted rather flat. From what I understand, the soup base is supposed to be flavourful to make up for the flat ramen, but its really like two extremes coming together but not exactly jelling well.

I had added on a side of Char Siew and it was simply fabulous. The fatty portions of the Char Siew literally melted in my mouth and the meat was tender and flavourful. I've honestly never tasted Char Siew like that. The only bummer was the not too generous servings. Please note that it is not your usual Char Siew that you can buy from the marketplace. In case you are wondering what are those balls in the picture, its some kind of a meat ball with a weird taste to it. Nothing fancy or impressive though.



Marutama Ramen - Chicken Base Soup Ramen

This soup base came across as slightly heavier and tasted rather common. As with the Aka Ramen base, it was heavy on the MSG and way too salty. The additional side of pork belly was good though. Quiveringly tender, it dissolved ever so readily in my mouth. This is definitely as good as the Char Siew.


Bill

Considering that it was only 2 bowls of ramen with an additional 2 sides, $40 is heck of a lot to pay. The noodles and soup base were not to our liking, but the Char Siew and pork belly could prove to the biggest draw. Having said that, I don't think I'll be back in a hurry, especially with the mad queues.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:6/10
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10 (8/10 for the Char Siew and pork belly)
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.375/10

Address: #03-90/91, The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Contact: 65348090

Had ice cream nearby after dinner.





Not too bad, but pretty expensive!